Studying in Italy

Why study in Italy?

In many ways, Italy’s University of Bologna paved the way for the university system we have today.

  • It was the first higher education institution of its kind in the developed world, dating back to 1088, and it was there that the word 'university' was coined.
  • In more recent times, it has been integral to the development of standardised university education across Europe, providing the initial inspiration and the setting for the Bologna Process, which aims to develops common higher education systems across Europe.
  • There are 89 universities in Italy, along with a number of polytechnics and other academies that form part of the higher education sector.
  • The number of English language courses on offer is more comprehensive once you get past undergraduate level, but the number of courses available in English at all levels is growing. In fact the Politecnico di Milano announced that from 2014 all of its courses will be taught in English.
  • There are around 32,000 foreign students in Italy, including those on exchange programmes and independent students.

Entry and visa regulations

EU students do not need a visa to study in Italy.

  • EU students do, however, need to apply for a residence permit by registering with the local police within three months of arrival.
  • Students apply to Italian universities via the Italian consulate in their home country. They should contact their university of choice in the first case to find out about entry requirements and application deadlines before submitting the application. Cut-off dates vary but it is likely students will need to have their applications in between January and April for normal academic year programmes.

Funding your study

At state universities, fees are about £680-£800 per year for EU students. Fees vary depending on the institution and there is also a means-tested element, which weights fees depending on a student’s parental income.

  • Unlike many other European countries, scholarships and student loans/grants are available to EU students on the same basis as Italian students, although eligibility is usually merit-based or means-tested and all students aren’t necessarily able to access financial assistance. More information on this can be found at the DSU office (although the site is mostly in Italian). Many university websites also have some information about financial aid on their sites.
  • EU students can work in Italy without any additional permission, however with youth employment at such high levels due to Italy’s faltering economy, jobs are unlikely to be easy to come by, particularly for those without Italian language skills.


Universities in Italy do not commonly have halls of residence, but they do usually offer an accommodation finding service that can help students find shared rooms or apartments for a lower cost that on the private market.

Italy is one of the more expensive countries in the EU in terms of living expenses and the north of the country is pricier than the south. Some typical costs in Italy (GBP, March 2015) include:

  • Apartment rent, 1 bedroom: £303 - £390 per month
  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant: £10.67
  • Meal at McDonalds: £5.27
  • Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught): £2.85
  • Imported beer (0.33 litre bottle): £2.49
  • Cappuccino: £0.93
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): £1.41
  • Water (0.33 litre bottle): £0.73
  • Loaf of bread: £1.10
  • Cigarettes: £3.56
  • One-way ticket local transport: £1.07
  • Cinema ticket: £5.69

Health and safety

  • In common with much of Europe, urban crime is a fact of life in Italy and the latest government statistics show that there has been an increase in the number of crimes reported to police over the past year, particularly bag-snatching and burglary. Don’t carry too many valuables around with you and use common sense in large cities to avoid petty crimes.
  • EU students are entitled to access healthcare in the same way as Italian locals as long as they have a valid European Healthcare Insurance Card. Most visits to GPs and hospitals are either free or involve very small contributions, and prescriptions are also usually free or have only a nominal cost.

Helpful links