Yet how can that be true? The author of this update on the nothingness of the Italian university system, a British professor who teaches in Trento, notes that the Italians have no trouble with the “buffoonish” Berlusconi, leader of their whole country. The fact that their higher education system is a black hole is a trifle.

Like the Greeks with Marietta Giannakou, the Italians have at the moment a minister of education so appalled by the country’s brain drain, and by what’s left in the country’s universities now that almost all of the smart students and professors have gone away, that she’s determined to do something. But, again like Giannakou, Mariastella Gelmini is unlikely to get anywhere. Corruption, insufficient funds, you know the deal.

The article describes what Italy has now:

… Parliament is full of superannuated professors itching to water down the proposed reforms.

[Gelmini] wants universities to be less like the Civil Service and more like businesses. To this end, she is proposing that rettori (elected vice-chancellors) should be limited to an eight-year term and be flanked by a professional general manager. The administrative council of the university will become a de facto board of directors, with at least 40 per cent of its members drawn from outside the university. It is intended that public-spirited business people will serve. University senates will occupy themselves purely with academic concerns. Given that many Italian universities have bankrupted themselves, this is no bad thing.

Second, Ms Gelmini wants to professionalise the staff. Professors will dedicate 1,500 hours a year to research and teaching, outside consultancies will be curbed, professors who do not meet standards will miss pay increments, and teaching and research assessment will be tougher. Farming out teaching to unqualified assistants will rightly be banned….

They’ve got crass cynical no-showism down to a science in Italian universities. Hard to see how, with a clown running the country, you change that.

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One Response to ““The Italian vice is trasformismo, the art of managing change to ensure everything remains the same. But having only one university (Bologna) in the top 200 has deeply dented national pride.””

  1. Mr Punch Says:

    "[Gelmini] wants universities to be less like the Civil Service and more like businesses." Oh dear. What about "more like universities"?

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