Fees hike threatens summer of unrest

July 28, 1995

The prospect of fee increases in Italy's 50 state universities has sparked new rumblings of student protest for the end of the summer.

The Italian parliament passed legislation which eliminates the ceiling of 1.2 million lire (Pounds 450) for annual enrolment fees. In addition to the basic fee, students in many departments must pay additional fees for laboratories, libraries, and other specific facilities.

A law passed two years ago granted a degree of administrative autonomy to each university. This resulted in sharp fee increases - but from a very low baseline - and provoked a nationwide wave of student protests and occupations of university buildings. Student organisations in various universities have already announced that if individual universities use the elimination of the ceiling to boost fees there will be a bitter reaction.

The gradual, but ongoing, trend towards deregulation and a greater economic responsibility on each university for its own running is seen by many students, particularly activists on the left, as contrary to the principle of equal opportunity for a university education. Supporters of this trend instead claim, that with the increases to date, the total cost to a student varies, depending on the university and the department - between about Pounds 250 and Pounds 700 a year, a modest enough amount for one of the world's richest nations.

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