Anti-corruption boss to target Italian universities

Former anti-Mafia prosecutor Raffaele Cantone will investigate cronyism and nepotism in Italy’s higher education system next year

October 11, 2016
Anti-Mafia prosecutor cantone
Source: iStock
Italy’s anti-corruption agency, best known for its anti-Mafia prosecutions, is to investigate malpractice in higher education

Italy’s national anti-corruption chief has vowed to wage war on nepotism and cronyism in the country’s universities.

“We are going to tackle this problem head-on and involve the ministry of education, universities and research, university rectors, faculty and students,” Raffaele Cantone told the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica in an interview in September.

As well as tackling nepotism, Italy’s system of scholarly patronage, which helps well-connected and corrupt academics known as “barons”, must be “relegated to the past", said Mr Cantone, head of Italy’s National Anti-Corruption Authority, which is best known for its prosecutions of Camorra bosses and corrupt local politicians.

“Introducing meritocracy and transparency and wiping out nepotism and the ‘barons’ is surely the best way to burnish the image, credibility and prestige of Italy’s universities,” said the former anti-Mafia prosecutor, whose comments were reported by Indian business news site Business Standard.

“In this way, we may convince the government and parliament to earmark more funds for higher education,” added the ex-Naples magistrate.

A series of “concrete” proposals for universities will feature in the national anti-corruption authority's programme of work for 2017, Mr Cantone told La Repubblica.

“We don't need new [anti-corruption] laws but want those that already exist to be applied rigorously to ensure maximum transparency in the vital choices made by the academic community in the interests of Italy,” he said.

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