TURIN University is to open its courses to any would-be students who have completed a secondary education. Those wishing to attend the "courses on demand" and take exams at the end will pay a fraction of the fee that normally enrolled, full-time students pay.
The idea is that people of all ages will be able to satisfy personal interest and intellectual curiosity, add know-how to their profession, or enrich a curriculum vitae with a course and exam pass in a particular subject.
A typical example might be a doctor who takes a course in company management with a view to running a hospital or nursing home or a lawyer who wishes to add to his or her curriculum vitae a course and exam in a certain field of economics.
Rinaldo Bertolino, Turin's rector, said the scheme was expected to start next academic year. "We have tried to interpret effectively the principle of university autonomy in the sense that everything that is not specifically forbidden is permitted," he said.
"Just think of the stimulus for a lecturer of having among his students adults who are in the world of production," enthused Professor Bertolino. "I believe the university should act as a bridge between socio-economic reality, which increasingly demands the capacity to re-convert, and the needs of single individuals."
Professor Bertolino does not foresee private companies unloading the cost of training their personnel on to the university. "Cultural autonomy and pluralism are the pride of the public universities. The courses, in any case, will have fees in keeping with their cost."
Professor Bertolino said it had not yet been decided if, or how, the programme could be adapted to faculties (medicine, dentistry, architecture, and so on) in which access is limited, but that various solutions were being examined.