Learning not leaning

February 7, 1997

Your report on the Pisa Scuola Normale Superiore (THES, January 3) gives the mistaken impression that it is a unique institution. This is not so. The Italian University and Scientific Research Ministry (MURST) recognises 12 university colleges as being of "special scientific merit"; four of these are situated in the partially collegiate University of Pavia.

Thus, for example, Collegio Ghislieri, Pavia has 200 undergraduates (100 male, 100 female) who are registered for Pavia University degrees. They are required to maintain high average grades to complete exams to a tight schedule (not the norm in a system where exams can be taken when the candidate feels ready, often years after the course was given) and to take internal language proficiency exams on top of their normal course-load.

The college, founded in 1567 by Pope Pius V, but secular since the 18th century, offers free places (board and lodging) on the basis of merit and/or family circumstances, an extensive private library, computing and sports facilities, not to mention a web of exchange relationships with similar institutions in other countries, such as the Maximilianeum in Munich and St John's College, Cambridge. An independent foundation, it is housed in a fine 16th-century palazzo.

Having spent nearly ten years in the Italian system, both studying as a postgraduate and teaching, I can confirm that the state of higher education in Italy is not as ruinous as some of your reports suggest.

Mark Pearce

Department of archaeology, Nottingham University

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns