The Italian job: there's no material difference

May 10, 1996

I share many of Richard Davies's criticisms. However, his article is full of generalisations and misconceptions. Having studied and worked in both Italian and English universities I have come to realise that "no truth is absolute".

Paradoxically, this is precisely what Mr Davies identifies as the "dominant ideology" in Italian universities. I had the misfortune of personally experiencing some very poor PhD tuition, so what? Our systems are certainly different and certainly not perfect. Do we want to stop any exchange programme because of that? Do we want to deprive young people of the possibility of learning something from each other's faults? This is what Mr Davies advocates, in a truly European spirit, calling for "some inspection of the credentials of universita", before these places could be worth a visit by a British student or academic. Such an attitude is patronising and highly regrettable. After all he has said about Italian universities, I cannot help wondering how is it that Mr Davies still works in one of them.

Anna Notaro Post-doctoral research fellow Royal Holloway College University of London

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