7 Reasons to Study in Italy
In 2017, I left Russia for northern Italy as I had enrolled in a master's program in Brescia. Here are seven reasons why I think Italy is a great place to study.
Scholarships for Foreign Students
Universities in Italy are pretty generous when it comes to granting scholarships to foreign students, especially those in master’s programs taught in English. The vast majority of universities have some funding schemes to offer.
For example, in 2017, I won a LMINT scholarship from the University of Brescia. This is a scholarship for students who have a degree obtained outside the EU. The scholarship, which was 5,500 € per year, covered the study costs.
Italy boasts a system of special-purpose scholarships for different categories of students. For example, the Polytechnic University of Bari offers a STEM scholarship to girls applying for engineering degrees. Those who aspire to develop their own projects are welcome to take part in Invest Your Talent in Italy. Excellent students are invited to join the TOPoliTO contest at the Polytechnic University of Turin.
Also, there are scholarships for students from low-income or war-torn countries, like S.T.A.R – Students At Risk from the University of Brescia.
The Italian government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and regional authorities provide financial support for students too. Every year, they announce several scholarship contests. For example, there are annual grants awarded by the Italian government. There was no chance to apply in 2021 because of the COVID-19 quarantine, but it's only temporary.
Low Cost of Studies
Even if you don't have a scholarship that would cover your study costs, you can still afford to study in Italy. One program can cost a couple of thousand euros per year for one student, while another student will only have to pay a couple of hundred euros for the same one. How does it work?
If a student wants to pay less in Italy, they have to provide a package of documents indicating the financial situation in their family. These can be housing documentation, salary certificates for all family members, documents on movable and immovable assets, etc. Based on these documents, students are grouped into four categories depending on how much the annual household income is. Each category breaks down into a large number of subcategories. Even a couple of hundred euros do count, when determining which subcategory an applicant qualifies for.
If the annual household income is below a certain amount, which is generally from 12,000 to 15,000 € per person, a student will only have to pay a regional tax. It's usually around 150 €, but the exact amount is determined by each region individually.
The higher the annual income gets, the more a student has to pay. Students in the third and fourth categories usually pay around 3,000-4,000 € per year. Students in the fourth category are not that many though, because to qualify for this one, a family's income has either to be higher than 60,000 € per year, or a student has to fail to submit documents for income calculation. In this case, a student will automatically have to pay the highest rate. Most people from Russia and post-Soviet states pay the minimum amounts up to 400-600 € per year, including a regional tax.
To get an idea of how much you would have to pay, you can go to university websites and use special summary tables. At the University of Brescia, for example, you need to go to the Quanto Costa Studiare section on their website. Besides, more and more universities introduce online calculators that will help you find out the approximate cost of your studies.
Degree Recognition by Other Countries
In 1999, the Bologna declaration was adopted. Back then, European countries started to ensure standardization and comparability of academic qualifications in different states. The idea behind the agreement was to increase the competitive ability of students, enhance academic mobility, and improve students’ opportunities to get a job abroad.
The Bologna process is still on, and new countries keep joining it. Among them is Kazakhstan, the first country in Central Asia to become a member of the declaration. Thanks to the agreement, a graduate of an Italian university can apply for a job in a range of countries without having to verify their degree.
Solid Platform for Learning Natural, Engineering, and Medical Sciences
Every year, Natural Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering are fully packed, providing tough competition for economy programs. Those having degrees in these majors have good chances to get a job not only in Italy but also in other countries.
Another reason why you should probably consider applying for these majors in Italy is the profound networking activities of universities here. Each university has partners. No matter how big a university is, it can be partners with the world's leading players.
For example, there are only 14,000 students and four departments at the University of Brescia. However, it does not prevent it from being partners with Harward, MIT, the Sorbonne, Lund University in Sweden, and King’s College London. I know people who had their practical training in these universities as students and then, after having completed a master’s or a postgraduate program, were offered a job there or got into further academic study there.
If you want to go on with your academic career in Britain, the US, or, say, Scandinavia, Italy could be a perfect transit hub for you. The advantages are clear: the range of scholarships is richer here, while life is cheaper. So, if you've failed to find a scholarship for a major you pursue in these countries, Italy is certainly a destination to consider. Why not start here to go to your dream country after you finish your studies?
Residence Permit and Employment Upon Graduation
If you study in Italy, you don't have to renew your visa in your home country every year, as you do in the US, for instance. D-Visa, or a long-stay visa, is granted to you once when you first come to the country to study there.
Then, a residence permit is issued based on this visa and a number of other documents (application, insurance certificate, a letter from your university, and a document confirming that you have a place to live and your income meets the minimum living wage requirements). This residence permit has to be renewed every year, but you need no visa for that already. Also, you can convert your student residence permit into a residence permit for work purposes without having to go through visa procedures.
Another advantage of this policy is that your residence permit can be prolonged for another year after you graduate. The aim is to give foreign students an opportunity to find a job in Italy after they finish their studies.
Everything in Italy is permeated with the history of the Roman Empire. Almost every building is imbued with the spirit of the Medici, the Farnese, Garibaldi, and other personalities whose names have gone down in the history books forever.
Italian culture is one of the things I appreciate most here. I still can't believe I’ve been lucky to see the Colosseum, the Cinque Terre, works by Titian, da Vinci, and Michelangelo. This is just an incredible feeling. It helps me keep my spirits up in those rare moments, that all immigrants experience from time to time, when I feel like I want to give everything up, pack my bags, and just leave.
The Italians truly love and are proud of their past. For them, preserving history is not just a contribution to tourism, but something much more personal. A great example is the Brescia Metro. Several years ago, construction works had to be delayed there because sites of ancient architecture had been discovered when building a tunnel. As the original plan was interfering with these locations, the project had to be redesigned.
Italy is a never-ending culinary journey. Italian cuisine is popular all around the world. After all, have you ever met anyone who had never tried pizza or pasta?
Every region has its unique cuisine. Bagoss cheese made in Brescia, fried seafood from Liguria, or Trentino traditional spaghetti in tomato-apple sauce – Italian cuisine is not limited to Margherita pizza and Spaghetti bolognese.
Italian cuisine may seem to be high in calories, but that’s not entirely true. Most of the dishes are well-balanced and slow-carb. Fresh vegetables are rich in fiber, while meat, seafood, and cheese provide proteins. The Mediterranean diet and active lifestyle are the Italian keys to living a long life.
Most of the Italian recipes are pretty simple. The main principle is to use fresh food products produced in the region, like fish for the coast, meat for mountain areas, vegetables (eggplant and tomatoes) for southern regions, and apples and root vegetables for the country’s north. Using quality local products is another secret that has brought Italian cuisine to the world’s top.
I love Italy so much, even though I realize the negative aspects of living here too. When I came here, I thought I would move somewhere to Denmark or Norway as soon as I finished my studies. Now I know I don't want to leave. It's warm, it's yummy, and it's comfortable here. Well, I sure miss winter and ice skating. However, there are many other joys that make it up for what I can't have here.
By Tatiana Pilipenko
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