No longer family affair

March 24, 2006

That Piero Tosi, the president of the Italian Rectors'

Conference, has been suspended for allegedly favouring his son's appointment to a university hospital ("Siena imbroglio", March 10) will surprise no one familiar with recruiting practices at Italy's universities.

Raccomandazione (pre-selecting candidates on the basis of connections) is the norm, meritocracy the rare exception.

Tosi rightly sees the interference by the magistrates as a blow to university "auton-omy".

But the blow, long overdue, is merely an attempt to uphold the rule of law in a country where autonomy amounts to the right of university barons to confer appointments to family members and their friends.

David Petrie ChairAssociation of Foreign Lecturers in Italy University of Verona

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