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How to Get Scholarships in Italy – All You Need to Know

Are you looking to apply for scholarships in Italy for international students? This comprehensive article is for you.

Italy is home to one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Bologna (founded in 1088). Indeed, the word ”university” is said to have originated from there. With some 20 separate regions with unique identities: dialects, traditions, landscapes and delectable food, Italy’s multifaceted diversity offers its international students an exciting and assorted experience. Then there’s the tourist attractions (more on that later).

Beyond its socio-cultural allure, Italy has always been a center for higher education as evidenced by the number of ancient universities that can be found there: the University of Padua (founded 1222)and the University of Naples(1224).These days, although most Italian universities are state-supported, its  system of higher education is built provided by private, public and state-affiliated universities and a few post-secondary vocational institutions that cater to local and international students.

Applying For Admission

Universities in Italy operate based on a 3+2 framework known as the Bologna Process. Universities in Italy can be divided into 4 groups:

  • State-funded public universities. Most of the largest universities in Italy belong to this category. .
  • Universities funded by other public authorities like the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano.
  • Officially recognized private universities.
  • Superior graduate schools or Grandes écoles  are fully autonomous schools that focus only on postgraduate education, offering recognized national and international titles

Applying to Italian universities depends on your nationality (EU status) and the level of education you are applying to as each level has different entry requirements. Please note that certain study programs ( medicine, veterinary studies, education and architecture) in some universities require specific admission exams.  Here are the levels of university education in Italy. 

Laurea Triennale

Known as a “first cycle” degree, this is the equivalent to a Bachelor of Science. It is obtained after a three-year program of study with a requirement of the award of a valid post-secondary school diploma that qualifies you for higher education in your country and is recognized in Italy. Entry into this program might be restricted, open or subject to a test or entry examination. In addition, you will have to present proof of your proficiency in the Italian language.

Laurea Magistrale

This is a “second cycle” degree and is the equivalent of a Master’s degree. Entry into this level of education requires a relevant bachelor or an equivalent degree diploma. This should not be confused with Italian “Masters”: one-year specialist courses that provide practical education but allow access to higher degrees unlike the Laurea Magistrale which grants access to third cycle programmes like post-MA degrees or a Doctorate degree. Interestingly, certain courses at this level (Law, Arts and Music) offer a unique five-year degree “Laurea Magistrale Quinquennale” (Five-Year Master of Arts)

 Dottorato di Ricerca

This is the equivalent of a PhD degree. Candidates are required to have a relevant diploma or master’s degree qualification. Some Italian universities also required for applicants to present their research proposal.

It is important that you confirm your eligibility (grade wise) and entry requirements that you need to meet in order to study in Italy.

For European citizens and non-EU citizen’s resident in Italy with a current, valid “permesso di soggiorno“, applications can be made directly to the Italian university. Otherwise, students who do not have the permit have to apply through their embassy which sends them a Letter of Academic Eligibility and Suitability (Dichiarazione di Valoro in Loco/ DV),that their earlier foreign studies. The embassy then sends their documents to their university of choice from which they receive confirmation of acceptance or rejection.

It is different for non-EU citizens resident abroad who must submit a pre-application request along with the relevant documents to the Italian Embassy or Consulate where they reside. The Italian embassy or consulate will find out if your application meets the criteria for a visa to study in Italy. Once their eligibility has been ascertained, then the application process can continue. It is also important that you acquire the services of an approved translator who will translate your documents to Italian. In order to successfully apply to a university in Italy, here are the documents you are expected to provide:

  • A completed application form to receive a Letter of Academic Eligibility and Suitability (Dichiarazione di Valoro in Loco/ DV); 
  • A completed relevant pre-enrolment form;
  • A copy of your school leaving qualification if you are an undergraduate applicant, or copy of your undergraduate qualification certificate if you are a postgraduate applicant;
  • Transcripts of exams, including name of each passed exam and syllabi of each course attended;
  • Two passport-sized photographs, one of which you must sign;
  • Any other documentation that can support your application (translated into Italian);
  • Proof of proficiency in Italian language.

Living Costs

The overall living costs-accommodation, food costs, transportation costs, food costs and others sundry costs- for international students in Italy should be give or take €12,000 per year. However, this is largely dependent on location and lifestyle. Naturally, major cities and tourist centers are much more expensive than smaller towns. To illustrate the point, here are the living costs for three of the more student cities in Italy: Bologna ( 750 – 1,100 EUR/month); Florence(850 – 1,300 EUR/month); Milano(850 -1,450 EUR/month). Here is an overview of these costs on a monthly basis.

Accommodation

A lot of international students prefer to live outside their halls of residence so they spend about 35% of their monthly expenses on accommodation. But again that depends on the location and the kind of accommodation.

Food costs

Fortunately, groceries shopping in Italy can be inexpensive if you know your way around. Supermarkets like Penny Market and Esselunga have very low prices for their goods. Depending on the restaurants and choice of meals you may spend between 8 and 16 EUR. But you can get really inexpensive meals at university cafeteria or street restaurants for 2-3 EUR. Then what is known as the “Apertivo” offered by some restaurants where between 6 and 9pm you can get a free buffet if you buy a drink about 6 EUR. On the average, 200EUR should cover food costs for a month.

Transportation costs

Public transportation in Italy is an easy and convenient means of commuting for international students. Depending on the city, bus/tram/metro tickets for foreign students cost between 25 and 35 EUR/month. The rail network is also well coordinated encompassing about 15,000 miles of track with Milan, Rome, and Florence serving as major hubs so you move around Italy without draining your pocket. If you are into bikes, you could rent one in some cities for about 6 EUR a week.

Miscellaneous

The monthly costs for phone bills, entertainment and social activities and other utilities expenses can run to 250 EUR/month depending on your taste and spending habits.

Visa Application

EU/EEA students do not need a study visa to study in Italy. All they need to stay in Italy is a valid passport or ID card Italy with a valid passport or an ID card and are entitled to complete a degree in Italy without a visa for as long as they wish. However, it is imperative that they register with the police (Questura) to obtain residence permits.

It is different for non EU/EEA students. They first have to be accepted by an Italian university before they can start the visa application process. It is the letter of acceptance from the university that is used in the visa application process. The kind of visa you apply for is largely dependent on your course of study and invariably, the duration of your stay. Here are the options you have:

  • Short stay visa – type C – if you apply for a language course that lasts up to 90 days
  • Long stay (national) visa – type D, for study purposes – if you apply for any degree course that has at least 20 hours of courses per week (or 80 hours a month)

You will need to meet the following conditions before you can apply for a visa:

  • You must have a valid passport with at least two blank visa pages
  • You must provide a copy of your flight itinerary
  • You must not have a criminal record
  • You must not have been refused entry into Italy previously

 After meeting the conditions above, you can then proceed to apply for your visa at the Italian embassy in your country where a visa interview will be scheduled within four to six weeks in advance. After the interview, you should then apply for an Italian student visa at least three months before you arrive, although it only takes between 1-3 weeks for the application to be processed. In order to be issued a study visa by the Italian authorities, need to demonstrate the following:

  • Access to suitable accommodation in Italy;
  • Possession of  sufficient funds to cover all costs you might incur while studying in Italy (including tuition, accommodation, transport, textbooks and living costs) This is currently  fixed at €5,824,91;
  • That you have sufficient funds to be able to travel back to your country of origin at the end of your studies. Sometimes, proof that you have already purchased a return ticket will suffice;
  • Are entitled to medical care in Italy, either through private health insurance or an agreement between Italy and your native country;
  • Proof of certificate of payment in full for your degree program(optional) 

Although visa is essentially free; in certain cases there might be a need to pay a visa processing fee. In addition to the documents listed above, here are some other documents that you will also have to present:

  • Completed visa application form;
  • Evidence of having paid the visa application fee (if applicable);
  • Passport valid for at least three months after your course ends;
  • Two recent passport-sized photographs, one of which you must sign.

Also watch below: Top Best Countries to Get Longest Work Permit After Graduation

University Ranking

According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE), here are the top five universities in Italy.

 Sant’ Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa

Established in 1987 from previously existing institutions, this university is considered to be the number one university in Italy. However, its position on the world rankings is 149.It is a public university that specializes in Applied Sciences and offers degrees in the following courses: business sciences, economic sciences, legal sciences, political sciences, agricultural sciences, medical sciences, industrial engineering and information engineering. 

The university has very high standards that are strictly enforced by rigorous entrance requirements. Prospective students are expected to score high marks at the entrance exams in addition to the demonstration of proficiency in two languages. Most don’t. This is probably why the student population is less than 1,000. 

Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa

This university was found in 1810 as a satellite campus of the École Normale Superior in Paris. It operates from the Palazzo della Carovana which is its original building! Today as far as universities in Italy go, it  is the ranked as the second best. Ranked at 152 on the world rankings, the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, is a part of the Pisa University System, alongside the University of Pisa and the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies,. 

The Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa offer programs in both the humanities and sciences.

 University of Bologna

The third best university in Italy is believed to be the world’s first and oldest university. Founded in 1808, the University of Bologna has campuses in Bologna, Cesena, Forli, Ravenna and Rimini, and an international campus in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Its stature in the European higher education is evident in its conception of the Bologna Process-a series of agreements between European countries that aims at ensuring cooperation and comparability between European higher education systems.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Beckett, a number of popes, Nobel-winning inventor and engineer Guglielmo Marconi, Enzo Ferrari and Giorgio Armani are just a few of its illustrious alumni.

University of Padua

The University of Padua is the second oldest university in Italy, the world’s fifth oldest university and is jointly the fourth best university in Italy and is vaguely ranked between 201-250 on the THE world university rankings. It was founded in 1222 as a school of law and is made up of 32 departments and eight schools. It is part of the Coimbra Group, a network of historical research universities which also includes the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Heidelberg University, KU Leuven and the University of Salamanca. 

 Vita-Salute San Raffaele University

Irrespective of its toddler like status (it was founded in 1996) the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University is ranked fourth best university in Italy and somewhere around 201-250 on the THE world university rankings. Situated in the vibrant city of Milan,its mission is to answer the question, “Quid est homo?” which means “What is man?”, based on the belief that humans are biologically, psychologically and spiritually unique. Hence, it is specialized in three fields: medicine, philosophy and psychology.It became part of the Gruppo San Donato, Europe’s largest private hospital group in 2015.

Tuition

Owing to its high standard of education, Italy is a great place for academic pursuits. Interestingly, this does not mean that such education can only be acquired at the cost of high tuition fees or astronomical living expenses. You can get high quality education in some of the most renowned universities in the world that are steeped in history and culture, at very affordable prices.

Tuition fees in Italy are generally lower than it is in other countries in UK, US, Australia and other Western European countries. Institutions of higher education in Italy establish their own tuition fees, but in the case of university education, there is a legal minimum cost for enrollment and a maximum cost for student contributions, which cannot exceed 20% of state funding. According to government guidelines, the average tuition fees are between €600 and €4,500 per year for the three cycles in public universities. Certain universities, like the Sapienza University of Rome, offer lower tuition to students from considered to  be from, “poorer” countries.

Private universities in Italy are much more expensive and the majority of them have the same tuition fees for both EU and non-EU students. The average tuition fees in private universities range from 6,000 EUR to around 20,000 EUR/academic year.

 Some specialized courses may also charge higher fees for example the “master universitari” and other specialized degree courses. Doctoral students receiving a grant from their university of choice do not need to pay fees but non-grant holders are required to pay the tuition fees of their university.

 In most institutions of higher education, EU students also benefit from lower tuition fees compared to non-EU students and some of the state universities in Italy set the tuition based on the student’s parental income. Here is a list of some Italian universities and their tuition fees:

  • University of Siena – average tuition fees 1,800 EUR/year
  • University of Torino – average tuition fees 2,800 EUR/year
  • University of Padova – average tuition fees 4,000 EUR/year
  • Ca’ Foscari University of Venice – most tuition fees between 2100 and 6500 EUR/year
  • University of Bologna – average tuition fees 2,100 EUR/year
  • Polytechnic University of Milan – average tuition fees 3,300 EUR/year
  • University of Trento – average tuition fees 6,000 EUR/year

Tuition fees in Italy differ according to the level of degree. Prestigious public universities cost more than the less prestigious ones.The fees do not include accommodation and books.

Tuition Free Universities in Italy

Incidentally the top two universities in Italy are tuition free. Both highest-ranked and ultra- competitive institutions, the Scuola Normale Superiore  and  the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna do not charge tuition fees. Rather, they cover the living costs of their students. Indeed, they have been ranked as the cheapest university in Europe by the foreign exchange company known as FairFX.

The Scuola Normale Superiore is a public higher education institution with unique features. Firstly, it operates a system where students are selected based on merit and lessons take on the seminar format that intertwines teaching and research. Secondly, the integrated college life and the encouragement of international exchanges are based on the best European model of higher education. That is why lecturers, researchers and students of the university inhabit the same spaces and so teaching, experimental and laboratory activities and, cultural events are part of an amalgam that is properly meshed.

The Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies(Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna) is a special-statute public research university (located in Pisa) whose academic curriculum programs for highly talented undergraduate and graduate students are integrated with courses offered by the University of Pisa owing to its special status. Prospective undergraduates have to pass a rigorous public examination and only the very best are selected in order to ensure the best standards. This is why there are few students at the university as against what obtains in a traditional university. Students live on the SSSA campus and study free of charge.

The students of both institutions enjoy a total reimbursement of fees paid to the University of Pisa; free board and lodging and, an annual contribution towards expenses.

Scholarships

International students are eligible for the same scholarships and grants as local students. This is assessed by academic merit or financial needs that apply to scholarships, student loans, housing assistance, meal tickets and fee waivers. In Italy, the Italian government offers scholarships at the national and regional level for international students– for all degree levels, and for teachers of Italian as a second language. The scholarship duration may be three, six, or nine months.

Certain Italian universities such as Politecnico di Milano, University of Padova, Bocconi University, Bologna University, offer scholarship programmes for international students. These scholarships are usually between 5,000 and 12,000 EUR/year.

20+ Scholarships in Italy for International Students 2020

Students considering Italy are recommended to begin the application procedure 8-12 months prior to the intake although scholarship deadlines vary amongst institutions.

There are many funding and scholarships that are available to international students in Italy, some of which cover tuition fees and living costs as well.

International students can also Study in Italy through the Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree Scholarships. The Erasmus Mundus scholarships are offered by a consortium often made up of up to (or more than) 3 European universities and certain Italian Universities are part of some consortiums – offering scholarship spots to international students every year.

How to Apply for Erasmus Mundus Scholarship: Everything You Need to Know

However, these scholarships and funding are often based on merit after an assessment of the applicant’s previous grades. Below are some of the scholarships that are available to international students in Italy:  

The Italian Government Scholarships for Foreign and IRE Students: 

These scholarships are offered to foreign citizens studying in Italy, as well as Italian citizens studying abroad. They are available for a large number of program types. It includes tuition fees, health insurance and a monthly allowance. There are the 3months,6 months and 9months scholarships available.

Also see: Government of Italy Bachelors, Masters, PhD Scholarships 2019/2020 for Students with International Protection

and

Government of Italy Invest Your Talent Scholarship and Internship Program

Universita du Cattolica Scholarships

This is a partial scholarship (30%) driven by the Universita Cattolica. It was designed to facilitate the admission of international students who need help.

Luiss University ENI Scholarships

These scholarships are available to students particularly to international students from African countries who specifically enrolled in a full-time program at the Universities of Luiss.

University of Pavia International Scholarships for Developing Country Student

Like the name suggests, this scholarship is targeted at offering scholarships to outstanding international students from developing countries a  Master’s Degree Programme (taught in English) at The University of Pavia.

The Bologna University Study Grants for International Students:

 The University of Bologna awards 48 study grants to international students studying in Italian universities.

Politecnio de Milano Merit-Based Scholarship for International Students

This an annual merit based scholarship for the top international students who gain admission  to a Masters degree program in the Sciences.

 The Bocconi Scholarships in Italy for International Students:

 Before this scholarship is awarded, the economic conditions and the academic performances of the applicants are considered. It includes a full tuition waiver that is worth up to €12,700 per year.

Politecnico di Torino International Scholarships

Get in here if you are an engineering or architectural design student. The Politecnico di Torino has several scholarships for international students to study academic programs in Engineering or architecture fields. One of the scholarships, the Eni Project, is a 20,000 Euro funding for graduate students who are not Italian citizens to attend 2-year masters in Petroleum and Mining Engineering. There are several of these international scholarships. You need to apply early when they are open usually at the beginning of the year before April to win them.

EDISU Piemonte Scholarships

All Students including international students enrolling in a full-time Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD Degree courses at one of the Universities of Piedmont, that is, The Politecnico of Torino, the University of Torino, the University of Eastern Piedmont, can apply for EDISU scholarships if they meet the merit and economic requirements of the competition. Part-time students can apply if enrolled in a bachelor’s degree. The Scholarships in Italy for International Students varies depending on many conditions. Accommodation service can also be granted to non-resident students.

Padova International Excellence Scholarship Programme

The University of Padova offers Scholarships in Italy for International Students wishing to pursue a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree completely held in English in Padova. The scholarship includes a gross allowance of € 12,000, and a tuition fee waiver for 1 year.

Studying in Italy

Upon arrival in Italy, students (both EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA) have to apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno (a residence permit). Non-EU students who are on a long-stay student visa (more than 90 days) should  to apply for it at their local post office within eight days of arrival, while EU nationals could register at their local Ufficio Anagrafe (registry office) within three months of arrival.

All international students on a short-stay student visa (up to 90 days) are obliged to make a declaration of presence (Dichiarazione di Presenza) to the local police (Questura). They are to have this declaration of presence or residence permit on them at all times as security officers might request to see it at any time.

Then there is the thing about language barriers. English speaking international students in Italy do not need to worry about how fluent they are in Italian. This is because English is widely spoken in major cities like Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice, and Bologna and in many of the smaller towns too. Lots of menus, travel schedules and museum guides have English options so getting by while studying in Italy, should not be a problem.

Then there is the fun part about studying in Italy. Beyond having to study is some of the world’ oldest and most prestigious universities, international students get to explore the beautiful cities and the rich social life of the country. 

 There are so many famous heritage sites and architectural delights in the country that offer a unique cultural experience to people coming to Italy. Tourist attractions like the Colosseum in Rome, the Sistine Chapel, the Trevi Fountain and the Leaning Tower of Pisa(among others) are highly rated in tourist circles and lots of people travel from far and wide to enjoy the sights and sounds of Italy.

Just in case you are still wondering about where to study in Italy or maybe you need to know a little more about Italy, here is a short description of some of its more popular cities that you might want to explore:

 Rome

Rome is Italy’s capital city and has always been influential in world affairs since AD117 when it was the seat of power the Roman Empire. It is home to the Vatican City-the cradle of the Roman Catholic church- which is considered a sovereign entity, lots of historical and cultural sites and several prestigious universities. It is a popular study destination for international students all around the world because it offers great social life and quality education.

Milan

Although this city is popular for being one of the biggest hubs in the fashion and design world, Milan has the largest student community in Italy. It is home to Politecnico di Milano, Università degli Studi di Milano and the Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi which is known as one of Europe’s top business universities. It is the second largest city in Italy and is a hub for world fashion, media, finance and the arts. There are limitless opportunities for internships that available to international students

Venice

As one of the more popular tourist destinations in Italy because of its unique design, Venice offers daily sights of amazing Italian architecture and lots of tourist attractions. It is also home to renowned universities.

Bologna

Named by the UNESCO as A Creative City for Music, Bologna has a lively music scene that hosts tons of music from different genres of music and is home to a number of prestigious universities. The latter has earned it the nickname “la dotta” which is Italian for “learned one. Its small size also means that students who get admitted to any of these universities will enjoy low living costs. 

Florence

This is the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. It is a city that boasts of a strong influence in the fields of science and the arts. It also offers a locale that blends history, art, wine, culture, food seamlessly and allows access to lots of other cities.

Siena

This small city has been described as a work of art because of its splendor. It is home to tons of tourist attractions and top-notch institutions that offer globally recognized programs in histort, art and architecture.

Turin

Turin is Italy’s major center of industry and is home to some of the best(the Universta degli Studi)and oldest(the University of Turin) universities in Italy . It also boasts a rich culture and history, great social life, a humid subtropical weather and low costs of living.

Pisa

Home of one of the oldest tourist attractions in the world (the Leaning Tower) and two of the best and oldest universities in Italy, Pisa offers a modest, countryside lifestyle. International students get to study and live in an environment that is tranquil and picturesque. This is probably the secret behind the dominance of its universities.

Studying in Italy which is one of the most beautiful countries is a great choice. Why? The low tuition fees of  Italian universities will allow you to save money that could be used  to explore its vibrant cities (that are full of ancient monuments and mysteries) while enjoying its great weather. International students get to try some of the best food in the world at its restaurants while making taking advantage of great shopping opportunities.

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