STUDENTS and administrative staff at Rome's Third University will for the first time be able to vote for the rectorship, according to a statute approved by the academic council.
The weight of student and administrative votes is expected to upset the complex feudal-style alliances of professori which traditionally determine the election.
The move, unprecedented in Italy, was made possible by the greater autonomy the 60 state universities now enjoy. The next elections are scheduled for January 1998. The rector will be elected by all teaching staff and representatives of administrative and technical staff and students.
Associate professors will vote with full professors for all senior posts. This means that an associate professor could be elected head of a department by the votes of his peers over the heads of the full professors. This follows moves to merge the two ranks of lecturers into a single category.
Ignazio Cipriani, professor of mass communications who presented the statute, said: "This is not a revolution, but the establishment of a new principle."
Students and administrative staff are expected to get about 10 per cent of the vote each.