An official survey of Italy's controversial three-year university diploma or short degree courses reveals that students are very satisfied with them despite allegedly poor teaching.
Giorgio Alulli, of the education and employment studies institute ISFOL that carried out the survey, said: "Students were generally unhappy with the didactic aspect of their courses but they gave very high overall scores because of the opportunity in their final year to undergo practical industrial training of up to nine months."
Carlo Callieri, vice-chairman of the Confederation of Italian Industries, welcomed such collaboration but called for greater participation by industrial staff in teaching.
He said: "The diploma is tailormade for students who are prepared to work hard over three years to acquire a basic grounding in their chosen subject and a strong element of specialisation."
The short degree, introduced in 1990 for cultural heritage studies and since extended to other disciplines, was conceived by the higher education ministry as an effective means of reducing Italy's exceptional drop-out rate, raising quality and offering an alternative to the full degree.
Many diploma students find employment - often prior to graduation - causing it to be hailed as useful in helping combat unemployment, which is running at over 12 per cent. Prospective students were discouraged by the diploma's lack of legal recognition but higher education minister Luigi Berlinguer expects this problem to be resolved by the end of the year.