Italian Higher Education: SSML

7. Non-University sector

7.1 Introduction

Traditionally, the state non-university sector mainly covered the arts but it has since expanded into other areas such as the interpreting and translating professions – now referred to as language mediation (mediazione linguistica) – as well as psychotherapy at postgraduate institutes/schools (Istituti/Scuole di Psicoterapia), courses at the military academies (Accademie Militari), higher technical education and training (Istruzione e formazione tecnica superiore – IFTS) as well as vocational post-secondary professional education and training by the Regions (Formazione professionale regionale FPR).

7.2 Education in the arts and music

This sector provides for the education and training of highly qualified professionals in artistic fields that have long played a significant role in Italian cultural traditions: music, figurative and applied arts, conservation and restoration of cultural assets such as ancient books, buildings, medals, mosaics, paintings, etc. as well as archiving, palaeography and diplomatics. Some of these fields are highly specialised and applicants must show a marked aptitude along with sufficient basic training to be admitted to the courses. Non-university higher education institutions in the arts and music are:

 

  • Academies of Fine Arts, and Higher Institutes for Applied Arts (Accademie di Belle Arti, Istituti Superiori per le Industrie Artistiche)
  • Music Conservatories (Conservatori di Musica) and other recognised Music Institutes (Istituti Musicali Pareggiati)
  • National Academies/Schools for Cinema, Dance, Drama and advanced musical studies (Accademie Nazionali and Scuole Nazionali )
  • Higher Institutes/Schools for Conservation and Restoration of cultural assets (Istituti Centrali per la Conservazione e il Restauro dei Beni Culturali)
  • Schools for Archiving, Palaeography and Diplomatics (Scuole di Archivistica, Paleografia e Diplomatica)

 

7.2.1 Reform in progress

The Academies of Fine Arts, the National Academy of Drama, the Higher Institutes for Applied Arts, the National Dance Academy, Music Conservatories, and the recognised Music Institutes make up the system for education and specialisation in arts and music and have the right to autonomous regulations as recognised in art 33 of the Italian Constitution. This area is currently undergoing a process of significant reform that began in 1999 with law no. 508 to create a system of higher advanced education and specialisation in the arts and music “Sistema dell’alta formazione e specializzazione artistica e musicale” or AFAM system. The new system is characterized by the following features:

 

  • Minimum educational requirement for access to all AFAM institutions is the Diploma di Esame di Stato/Maturità, the Italian school leaving diploma granting access to university studies, or a comparable foreign qualification.
  • Music Conservatories, the National Dance Academy, and the recognised Music Institutes have become Higher institutes for musical and choreographic studies (istituti superiori di studi musicali e coreutici).
  • All AFAM institutions are legally authorised to draw up their autonomous statutes as well as teaching, administrative and financial regulations, while the State has retained responsibility for overall co-ordination
  • AFAM institutions may set up higher education programmes and award qualifications in the first and second cycle (see Bologna declaration), as well as specialisation and research programmes.
  • Diplomas conferred before the reform remain valid both for professional purposes (teaching) and to pursue further studies; they have already been declared equivalent to first university degrees (3-year Lauree) for access to competitions for public sector posts, and for admission to second university degree programmes (Lauree Specialistiche) as well as to the new second cycle programmes in the arts and music that are being established (Law 268/2002).
  • The current university legislation for student welfare services is extended to AFAM institutions.

 

The reform also foresees the setting up of a National Council for art and music education (Consiglio Nazionale per l’Alta Formazione Artistica e Musicale ) with advisory functions in matters relating to:

 

  • teaching regulations of individual institutions
  • recruitment of teaching staff
  • planning of educational offerings in the art, music and dance sectors.

Full implementation of the reform will take a number of years since articulation of studies in cycles, reorganisation of curricula, and definition of new qualifications is still being debated.

 

7.2.2 Academies of Fine Arts (Accademie di Belle Arti)

The Academies of Fine arts provide education and training for traditional professions in painting, sculpture, decorative arts and stage design, and, as a result of the ongoing reform, also in a few applied fields such as conservation of cultural assets. Courses currently last four years (but this is changing with the gradual implementation of the reform). After passing the diploma examination, students are awarded the Licenza (Licence) in the specialist sector of their choice (eg. Licenza di Accademia di Belle Arti in Pittura, or in Scultura, etc.)
Access to fine art academies is now open to holders of the Italian school leaving certificate (Diploma di Esame di Stato/Maturità) or a comparable foreign qualification .
Additionally, most candidates must take an entrance examination consisting of a written essay, oral interview on a few general knowledge subjects such as art history, history, Italian literature, geography), and an aptitude test in their choice of specialisation. Foreign candidates must also prove their knowledge of Italian.

7.2.3 Higher Institutes for Applied Arts (Istituti Superiori per le Industrie Artistiche)

The Higher Institutes for Applied Arts provide education and training in fields that are closely connected with industrial production, such as graphics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, design and technologies of pottery etc. Institutes generally specialise in one or more of these fields. Courses currently last four years but this is now changing. In line with the Bologna Declaration pattern, three-year first cycle programmes followed by two-year second cycle programmes as well as by specialisation or research programmes will be the rule once the 1999 reform is in place.
The final qualification is called Diploma and mentions the specialisation obtained. The old diplomas had the same legal validity as the Licenza conferred by fine art academies, the ones awarded in conformity to the reform have the same legal validity as the corresponding university degrees.
Access is regulated by numerus clausus restrictions. Applicants must hold an Italian 5-year upper secondary leaving qualification (Diploma di Esame di Stato/Maturità) or a comparable foreign qualification; they must also pass a highly competitive entrance exam. The entrance selection is based on a written essay on general knowledge, aptitude tests related to the specialisation, an interview on general knowledge and on the candidate’s own work.

7.2.4 Music Conservatories (Conservatori di Musica) and recognised Music Institutes (Istituti Musicali Pareggiati)

Music conservatories are state institutions which, along with non-state legally recognised music institutes, offer education and training for professions in the musical sector – musicians, compositors, orchestra directors, singers as well as music teachers. Course length varies from 5 to 10 years depending on the different specialisations.
The final qualification is a Diploma [di Conservatorio] di… and indicates the specific musical field /instrument.
Traditionally, conservatories have organised only music programmes and students have had to make their own arrangements for their general education The minimum educational requirement has been the Italian diploma conferred on completion of compulsory education (Licenza di Scuola Media). Minimum and maximum ages for admission used to vary between 9-16 and 15-26 respectively, depending on the specific musical instrument or branch of the student’s choice. Applicants took an entrance exam which included an aptitude test.

According to the abovementioned AFAM reform, applicants will be required to hold a “Diploma di esame di Stato/Maturità” in music, which at present is offered only by some experimental sections at a few upper secondary schools (licei con sezione musicale sperimentale).

7.2.5 National Academies & National Schools (Accademie e Scuole Nazionali)

These academies and schools share the essential feature of offering highly specialised education and training but they differ considerably from one another in their specialisations, course level, length and organisation.

National Academy of Drama (Accademia Nazionale di Arte Drammatica “Silvio D’Amico” – Roma )
The National Academy of Drama offers courses for the training of stage actors and directors. Admission is based on competitive entry for candidates between the age of 18 and 25. Courses last three years and successful students are awarded a Diploma di Recitazione, for stage actors or Diploma di Regía for stage directors.
Applicants must hold a Diploma di Esame di Stato/ Maturità, or a comparable foreign qualification, as well as pass a national competitive entry selection open to both Italians and foreigners who are at least 18 years old. The maximum age is 23 for actors and 25 for directors. The selection procedure is as follows:
1. The first part, common to both specialisations, involves extemporary reading of an Italian text (poetry or prose), acting a part and reciting a poem by heart in Italian, an interview on topics of general knowledge and on history of the theatre.
2. The second part consists in a written essay on a topic concerning theatre or stage direction.
3. The third part takes place after a fixed period of course attendance and requires a stage performance or production.

National Dance Academy (Accademia Nazionale di Danza – Roma)
The National Dance Academy runs courses for the basic training and further specialisation of dancers, choreographers, and dance teachers. Course length varies according to the different specialisations. Students who successfully complete their course of study are awarded the following qualifications:

 

  • Diploma di danzatrice/danzatore solista (solo dancers);
  • Diploma di coreografo (choreographers);
  • Diploma di insegnante di danza accademica o moderna (teachers of classical or modern dance).

 

Admission requirements, including age limits and previous study qualifications, vary according to the type and level of course. In some cases an entrance aptitude test must be passed.

National Music Academy (Accademia Nazionale di Musica di Santa Cecilia – Roma)
The National Music Academy in Rome runs post-graduate advanced courses in musical studies, open to both Italian and foreign applicants. Courses have a maximum length of three years.
An advanced qualification (“Diploma di Perfezionamento in..”), comparable to postgraduate university degree, is awarded in a specific musical field or instrument.
Admission to the Corsi di Perfezionamento (advanced courses) of the Academy is subject to a selective competition. Candidates must hold an Italian Diploma di Conservatorio (or a foreign comparable qualification) in the musical field or instrument of their choice for their advanced studies, be under 30 years of age, and pass the mentioned competitive entrance exam.

National School for Cinema Studies (Scuola Nazionale di Cinema – Roma)
The National School for Cinema Studies offers education and training to future professionals of the film and TV sectors.
Admission is by a highly selective national competition which is also open to foreign candidates. Age limits are 19-26 years, (maximum 24 age for actors). Candidates must hold the Italian school leaving diploma (Diploma di Esame di Stato/ Maturità), or an equivalent foreign qualification, demonstrate previous education and training in the chosen specialisation and adequate knowledge of the Italian language.
The School offers two- and three-year programmes in acting, direction, production, management, screening, etc. for both cinema and television. The final qualification is a “Diploma” and the name of the specialisation follows.

7.2.6 Central Institutes for Cultural Heritage (Istituti Centrali per i Beni Culturali)

The central institutes/schools for the cultural heritage promote the preservation and restoration of national artistic assets and come under the responsibility of the Ministry for the national cultural heritage (Ministero dei Beni Culturali).
Central Institute for Restoration – School for Restoration (Istituto Centrale per il Restauro – Scuola di Restauro)
The School at the Central Institute for restoration offers three-year training courses in two specialisations: conservation of metals and other materials of archaeological finds; conservation of paintings and their supports, of architectonic surfaces and related materials.
Students who successfully complete their programmes are awarded a qualification, the “Diploma di idoneità all’esercizio della professione di restauratore”, entitling them to practise as restorers. Graduates may also attend a fourth year of advanced training (Corso di Perfezionamento) and receive an “attestato di frequenza” (statement of attendance).
Access to the School is open to holders of an Italian/foreign secondary qualification. Course admission, restricted by numerus clausus, is granted to Italians and non-Italians aged between 18 and 40 who win an annual national competition. The selection is based on the evaluation of previous educational and professional qualifications (e.g. diplomas in the arts, university degrees, periods of working experience or professional training), and on an entrance examination (a drawing test, an experiment on metals or paintings, an interview on art history.) Non-Italian applicants must also pass an Italian language exam.

School for Restoration of Mosaics (Scuola di Restauro del Mosaico)
The school offers specialised three-year training courses in restoration of mosaics. Successful students are awarded the qualification “Diploma di restauratore di mosaici”, entitling them to practise as mosaic restorers.
Courses are open to Italians and non-Italians aged between 18 and 40 with an Italian or comparable foreign secondary school qualification. Access is restricted and admission is based on an annual competition that takes into account previous qualifications (school leaving diplomas from an Italian artistic high school or art institute, higher education diplomas and degrees, work experience or professional training; proven practice in the profession as a restorer) and entrance examination results (drawing test, a mosaic exercise, and an interview on art history). Non-Italian applicants must pass an Italian language exam.

School for conservation and restoration of precious stone materials – Workshop for restoration (Scuola dell’opificio delle pietre dure e Laboratori di restauro – Firenze)
The Workshop has set up its own school which offers three-year training courses in different specialisations: stone materials, mosaics and works in hard stones, terracotta, metalwork (goldsmithing, bronzes and antique weapons), furniture and engraving, gilding and polychrome wooden sculptures, murals, paper, textiles (tapestries and cloths).
The programmes – all of them with restricted access – are open to holders of an Italian/foreign secondary qualification. Admission is subject to passing an annual competition, open to Italians and non-Italians aged between18 and 40. The competitive selection is based on the evaluation of previous qualifications from the Workshop and from the Central Institute for Restoration in Rome) as well as on an examination that consists of a drawing test, a practical exercise and an interview on art history and art techniques. Non-Italian applicants must also demonstrate their knowledge of the Italian language.
Courses last four years and successful students are awarded a final qualification in restoration of cultural assets (Diploma di restauratore di beni culturali).

Central Institute for the Restoration of Damaged Books (Istituto Centrale per la Patologia del Libro“Alfonso Gallo” – Roma)
At its own premises, the Central Institute for the restoration of damaged books runs short advanced courses open only to professionals who have already acquired a considerable level of competence in the sector. On the basis of a special agreement with the Regione Umbria, the Institute has also set up a basic course for the specialised training of prospective young professionals.

Foundation for the Conservation and Restoration of Ancient Books and Documents (Fondazione per la Conservazione e il Restauro dei beni Librari)
The two-year programme selects 15 candidates per year from the European Union. Candidates must be under 25 years old, hold an Italian school leaving qualification (Diploma di Esame di Stato/Maturità), or a comparable foreign qualification, possess adequate knowledge of written and spoken English and Italian, basic knowledge of Latin, knowledge of chemistry and physics, and pass a selective examination (written tests, interview, practical and aptitude tests).
After the two-year course of basic training, students may take a one-year advanced course (Corso di Perfezionamento) and receive a statement of advanced specialised training (Attestato di Perfezionamento) as restorers of ancient books and documents.

International Institutes for Cultural Assets (Istituti Internazionali per i Beni
Culturali)
While they do not belong to the Italian higher education system, it is nevertheless important to mention some renowned international institutions, located in Italy, which offer post-secondary specialised education and training in the conservation and restoration of the cultural heritage with the official consent of and in cooperation with the Italian authorities.
1. International Study and Research Centre for the conservation and restoration of cultural assets – Rome (Centro internazionale di Studio e Ricerca per la conservazione e il restauro dei beni culturali –Roma)
2. European University Centre of cultural assets – Salerno (Centro Universitario Europeo per i beni culturali – Salerno)
3. European Foundation Pro Venezia Viva – European Centre for the training of artisans in the restoration of architectural heritage – Venice (Fondazione europea Pro Venezia Viva – Centro Europeo per la Formazione degli Artigiani per la Conservazione del patrimonio architettonico – Venezia)
4. UNESCO – Course in technology of stone conervation – Venice

7.2.7 Schools for Archiving, Palaeography and Diplomatics (Scuole di Archivistica, Paleografia e Diplomatica)

Schools for archiving, palaeography and diplomatics are state institutions of university rank which come under the supervision of the Ministry for cultural heritage. They are established at the state archives of the following cities: Bari, Bologna, Bolzano, Cagliari, Florence, Genoa, Mantova, Milan, Modena, Naples, Palermo, Parma, Perugia, Rome, Turin, Trieste and Venice.
The main purpose of these Schools is to provide the necessary theory and practical experience to perform certain specific archiving functions or to carry out research in related fields.
Courses last two years and successful students are awarded a qualification in archiving, palaeography and diplomatics, i.e; the “Diploma di archivistica, paleografia e diplomatica”.
Candidates must hold an Italian school leaving qualification (Esame di Stato/Maturità), or a comparable foreign qualification. Admission depends on a selection based on the evaluation of applicants’ previous qualifications, grades obtained in Latin, other study qualifications or professional experience, if any. The competition is announced every two years (generally, in odd years).

7.2.8 Non-state artistic education

Quite a number of art sectors are not – or only partially – included in state artistic education, especially applied arts or more recent developments in such areas as advertising, communication, design (cars, jewellery, industrial, visual, etc.), fashion, photography, graphics (advertising, computer), multimedia, etc.
This has led to initiatives by local authorities (Regions, Provinces, Municipalities) as well as private bodies or individuals to set up institutions and/or programmes in these areas.
Courses generally have a strong professional orientation and last between one and three years, although there may also be intensive refresher courses that last only a few months.
Some schools may seek official recognition for their programmes but many others do not see recognition as essential. They prefer the freedom of being completely independent and in any case most professions in the art sector are not regulated by law. This means that employers are not so much interested in “legal” qualifications as in the actual competence of individual applicants.

7.3 Non-university higher education in other sectors

Further opportunities for non-university higher education in other sectors are the following:

 

  • Programmes in Language Mediation
  • Programmes in Psychotherapy (for professional psychologists)
  • Technical and socio-economic courses at Military Academies
  • Higher Technical Education and Training (IFTS)
  • A great variety of fields for professional post-secondary education and training under the responsibility of the Regions.

 

7.3.1 Higher Schools for Language Mediators (Scuole Superiori per Mediatori Linguistici)

Since 2002, the Higher Schools for Interpreters and Translators have been given the opportunity to reform their structure and programmes according to ministerial decree no. 38/02. The whole process is taking place under the supervision of the Ministry for Education, Universities and Research – MIUR. Once reformed, Higher Schools for Interpreters and Translators are renamed Higher Schools for Language Mediators (Scuole Superiori per Mediatori Linguistici).
The courses provide students with a solid mastery in at least two foreign languages and develop specific technical language skills both written and oral for professions in language mediation (interpreting and translating). The new programmes last three years and the degrees awarded are now equivalent to first university degrees in class 3 “sciences of language mediation” (scienze della mediazione linguistica) and give access to the second degree classes 39/S and 104/S for interpreting and translating.
Access requires an Italian school leaving qualification or a comparable foreign one. Admission may be subject to an entrance test devised to check that knowledge in both foreign languages and mother tongue is of a sufficient standard. The current university legislation for student welfare services is extended to all Higher Schools for Language Mediators.

 

7.3.2 Institutes/Schools for Psychotherapists

Quite a number of non-state institutes/schools offer postgraduate programmes in applied psychology and in psychotherapy which have been recognised by the Ministry for Education, Universities and Research – MIUR. Minimum admission requirement is a five-year Laurea in Psychology or, after the 1999 university reform, a Laurea Specialistica class 58/S (psicologia), or a comparable foreign degree.
These postgraduate programmes, whose main purpose to provide advanced education and training to professional psychologists wishing to specialise as psychotherapists, last 4 years for a total of 1,600 hours. They alternate theory (1,200 hours) with practical training and individual analysis (400 hours).
The successful passing of the final examination, which includes the defence of a dissertation, results in the awarding of a professional qualification (e.g. Diploma in Psicoterapia Cognitiva) with the same legal validity of the postgraduate specialisation degrees in psychological fields conferred by Italian universities.

7.3.3 Military Academies (Accademie Militari)

Activities for the education and training of military officers are offered by a number of military academies and/or higher institutes such as the Aeronautic Academy (Accademia aeronautica) in Pozzuoli, the Naval Academy (Accademia militare navale) in Livorno, the Army Academy (Accademia militare dell’esercito) in Modena, the Higher Institute for the Police (Istituto superiore di polizia) in Rome, the Higher Institute for penitentiary studies (Istituto superiore di studi penitenziari). All these higher education institutions run university-level courses in such fields as economics and management, engineering, political science which may be validated by Italian universities towards academic degrees in similar subject sectors.

7.3.4 Higher technical education and training (Istruzione e Formazione tecnica superiore – IFTS)

A system of higher integrated education and training (Formazione integrata superiore – FIS) was started as a pilot project in 1998. It had the main objective of re-qualifying the whole system of professional education and training by better exploiting existing resources and facilities, and by facilitating the transition from one educational pathway to another.
In 1999 a significant number of new programmes for higher technical education and training (Istruzione e Formazione tecnica superiore – IFTS) were established with the chief purpose of creating an efficient “second channel” of educational opportunities. They were aimed at those holders of a school leaving qualification who wanted to access a type of higher education other than the traditional, academic one provided by universities, but of a comparable quality standard.
The IFTS pilot project was turned into official course offerings by Article 69 of Law 144/1999. The following institutional bodies are allowed to offer IFTS courses, either independently or with one another:

 

  • state secondary schools (Licei classici, Licei scientifici, Licei artistici, Licei linguistici, Istituti tecnici; Istituti professionali, etc.)
  • regional centres for vocational education and training
  • state or non-state but legally recognised universities
  • public or private firms, small or large companies, often grouped in consortia.

Courses last a maximum of 4 semesters (1,200 – 2,400 hours). Curricula must include basic technical and scientific subjects, practical applications, training periods at private companies or public bodies, other professionally-oriented activities “on the spot”, and, at intervals, real work experience. Practical training periods must cover no less than 30% of each programme and they may take place either in Italy or abroad, in EU or non-EU countries.
IFTS programmes generally award an “Attestato/Certificato di Competenza”; the corresponding workload is expressed in credits so as to make the qualification valuable for further studies both in Italy – either in the university system or in the second and 3rd level of regional professional programmes – and abroad, in particular within the European Union.

 

7.3.5 Regional post-secondary professional education and training (Formazione Professionale Regionale – FPR)

Since the late seventies, alongside the state university system, other educational opportunities have been set up at local level. Professional courses in a great variety of fields and at various levels have been developed in close cooperation with businesses and industry and are managed by the Regions. The main purpose of these courses is to provide training in skills which meet the requirements and changes of the job market, thus increasing employability for the participants. These more practically oriented courses used to offer the only alternative route to university education until the IFTS programmes were introduced.
Courses are open to holders of a school leaving qualification (Esame di Stato/Maturità) or to university graduates (Laurea). Length may vary from 1 to 2 years according to programme type and main subject field.
Another category of post-secondary professional courses are those set up jointly by the Regions and the Labour Ministry with financial support from the European Social Fund (Fondo Sociale Europeo – FSE). These courses are also open to holders of either a school leaving diploma or of a university degree (laurea).

From the Ministryof Italian education (Miur)

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