The right to education is intrinsic to human dignity.
According to article 34 of the Constitution, education is open to all. The right to education is guaranteed to Italians and foreign nationals in Italy, without any discrimination whatsoever based on citizenship or on the regularity of stay in our Country, including when individuals do not have the necessary financial resources.
Some distinctions are made according to whether referring to the education of minors or the training of adults, for which – as provided for by the main international provisions – higher education may not be necessarily guaranteed to all. However, the Italian Constitution states that capable and deserving persons may reach the highest levels of education, although not endowed with any financial resources, through education grants, family allowances and other benefits (article 34, paragraph 3).
Both foreign minors and adults are supported in their educational pathway by the activation by the State, by Regional Governments and Local Authorities, of services and courses destined to the learning of the Italian language.
The regulations on the right to education for foreign minors also devotes particular attention to intercultural education by the school community, which welcomes language and cultural differences as a value at the basis of mutual respect and exchanges between cultures, therefore promoting initiatives aimed to the acceptance, the protection of the culture and the language of origin, and the implementation of common intercultural activities (article 38, paragraph 3, of the Consolidated Law on Immigration).
Go to the Intercultural Area of the website of MIUR.
Foreign minors in the Italian territory are subject to free-of-charge compulsory education, and all the provisions in force in the area of right to education, access to educational services and participation in the school community apply to them (Article 38 of the Consolidated Law on Immigration) independently from their regular presence in Italy (article 45 of the Regulation implementing the provisions of the consolidated Law). Furthermore, compulsory school education also applies in case the parents of minors are irregularly present in the national territory or if – for the purpose of enrolment in Italian schools – parents submit incomplete or no personal documents concerning minors. In such case, minors are enrolled conditionally. The position of minors is therefore autonomous as compared to their family members irregularly present in Italy, and it does not prevent in any case the exercise of the right to access education of any degree, also in case of nursery schools.
See: COURT OF MILAN, Division I, Order of 11th February 2008.
MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR, Note no. 2589 of 13th April 2010 to the Extraordinary Commissioner of the Municipality of Bologna on Playschools.
The non-compliance with the right-duty to education of minors by their parents or by the persons in charge of them entails a criminal sanction provided for under article 731 of the criminal code. Furthermore, the non-compliance with the obligation to provide education to minor children determines the total loss of the credits granted when signing the integration agreement, as well as those subsequently obtained, and the termination of the agreement due to non-fulfilment.
For additional information on the integration agreement, please access the relevant page.
The general regulations on the right-duty to education include compulsory education for ten years and the obligation to receive education until 18 years of age, therefore obtaining a secondary school title or a professional qualification after at least three years (article 1, paragraphs 2 and 3, of Legislative Decree 76/2005, article 1, paragraph 1, of Legislative Decree 226/2005, article 1, paragraph 622, of Law 296/2006, article 1 of Ministerial Decree from the Ministry of University and Research dated 22nd August 2007).
When turning of age, minors with no identification documents shall not abandon their education, rather they may continue until obtaining an educational qualification.
See: COUNCIL OF STATE, Division VI, Judgement 1734, 27th February 2014.
Minors subject to compulsory education are generally enrolled in the class corresponding to their year of birth (and age), exception made for the cases in which:
·         The educational regulations of their country of origin state that they shall be enrolled in an immediately higher or lower class against the corresponding class within the Italian educational system;
·         The competences, skills and level of education of students require the enrolment in an immediately higher or lower class than the corresponding Italian one;
·         Students that have not yet achieved the necessary title to access the class corresponding to the real age in Italy.
In order to guarantee to all a positive development in the learning process, as well as an effective social inclusion, the distribution of foreign students in classes takes place by avoiding the predominant presence of foreign students, which may account for a maximum percentage of 30% of total students in each class. Derogations to this limit set by a circular letter of the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), may occur:
·         When foreign students already master the Italian language;
·         In case of foreign nationals without a suitable knowledge of Italian, needing specific support;
·         For reasons of learning continuity in case of classes already made up in the previous year;
·         When no alternatives exist.
Additional information is available in the area Minors and Second Generations.
For additional information, please also read the document on the “Regulations on working activities of minors”.
As from the moment in which foreign minors turn 16, those among them who did not fulfil their education obligations may attend the Permanent Territorial Centres (CTP) providing courses including Italian, but also cultural activities and training for adults, as well as basic notions in civics and on the rights and duties of citizens. CTPs allow users – half of which are foreign nationals – to attend integrated courses with school education, vocational training and evening classes, where obtaining educational titles and language skills and qualifications. Starting from the school year 2014/2015, CTPs are sided by the Provincial Education Centres for Adults (CPIA), which are destined to replace the former ones. CPIAs achieve the objective of social cohesion and creation of occasion of development also through the collaboration with Employment Centres and other employment agencies, vocational training institutions and the Regions. Enterprises in particular play a fundamental role in the integration process and in job placement, with stages and apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships or stage represent a concrete knowledge experience carried out inside of a given public or private working environment, having a limited duration and functional to learning and training. Apprenticeship is therefore aimed to provide apprentices with the necessary skills for a prompt placement in the labour market.
By means of apprenticeship contracts, a relationship is established between three subjects: promoting institution, hosting company and the apprentice
Two types of stage exist
·         Apprenticeships falling within formal education in the framework of university programmes of 3 or 5-year graduation courses, PhDs, master courses and school institutes are curricular apprenticeships.
·         Apprenticeships aimed to education-work alternation in the framework of training processes, having the goal of fostering professional choices stemming from a direct knowledge of the labour market are non-curricular apprenticeships.
Apprenticeship contracts specifically describe the training objectives set by the stage, the duration of contracts, the name of tutors inside of the company that side apprentices, the ways in which apprentices are supported by the company, the tasks assigned to apprentices and the related working hours, the monthly fees, and the facilities that apprentices are entitled to.
Through the agreement of 24th January 2013 in the framework of the State-Regions Conference, the guidelines on apprenticeships were issued. The provisions of the guidelines are transposed by the Regions with own laws.
When activating apprenticeships involving foreign nationals, a distinction must be made between:
·         Foreign nationals already living in Italy with a regular residence permit for work purposes, which may attend training apprenticeships on the same conditions as those in force for Italian citizens.
·         Foreign nationals still residing abroad who intend to enter Italy to perform an apprenticeship.
In order to enter Italy for such purpose, it is not necessary to obtain a work permit, but rather an entry visa for study or training reasons issued by the diplomatic-consular representation of the Country in which a given foreign national resides, within the limits of the quotas periodically determined. Entries for training apprenticeships, in fact, although taking place outside of the quotas annually determined by the flows-decree, are however possible only in the framework of a given percentage defined on a three-year basis through an interministerial decree.
Education for foreign adults is destined to citizens from third countries owning a regular residence permit. The provisions of article 39 of the Consolidated Law on Immigration state that the access to university education for foreign nationals regularly residing in Italy is guaranteed according to the principle of equal treatment with Italian citizens. In particular, the Consolidated Law provides for a binary system between foreign students already staying in Italy and students still residing abroad. Access to university courses and to university specialisation schools is granted to foreign nationals owning:
·         EU residence permit for long-term residents; residence permit for employed or self-employed work, for family reasons, political asylum or humanitarian asylum, or religious reasons; or
·         Higher education title obtained in Italy and regularly residing in Italy for at least one year as at the date of submission of the application to perform the tests, or
·         Diploma certificates issued by Italian public schools and by recognised schools abroad or by international schools operating in Italy or abroad under bilateral agreements or special regulations for the recognition of educational titles, or
·         Valid residence permit for study reasons, who enrolled in the previous academic years in a graduation course within an Italian university.
In case of foreign nationals residing abroad until the academic year 2014/2015, it is possible to access Italian universities only in the framework of a maximum number of entries determined on an annual basis through an Interministerial Decree of the Ministry of Education, University and Research, the Ministry of the Interior, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. By means of law no. 9/2014 such quotas were eliminated, without prejudice to the compliance with the access procedures to universities with a limited number of students (paragraph 4 of article 39 of the Consolidated Law was repealed).
The procedure presently in force states that once the educational pathway is identified, foreign students submit, within the deadline set, the pre-enrolment application in the Italian University selected by delivering it to the Italian diplomatic-consular Representation in one’s country. The application, equipped with the documents requested, shall be drafted in one original and two copies in the Form “A” available in the website of the Ministry of University and Education.  The Representation, after collecting the pre-enrolment application, issues the entry visa in order to allow students to pass the exam for enrolling to university.
Unless already owning a suitable certificate, foreign students shall also perform an Italian language test within the University selected according to the calendar published in the Website of the Ministry of Education. Those who did not pass the Italian language test shall not make the – eventual – additional university tests.
Foreign students attending University are issued a residence permit for study reasons under article 5, paragraph 3, letter c, of the Consolidated Law, presently lasting one year, renewable if enrolment in university continues, if a given number of exams is made, and if the requirements on economic sustenance continue to apply, until the end of the educational pathway and in any case not beyond the third year after the end of the regular course (article 46, paragraph 4, of the Implementing regulation). In case of academic year 2014-2015 the economic coverage requested for enrolment shall not be lower than euro 447.61 per month, totally amounting to annual euro 5,818.93.
Attention: Following a recent regulation (Law no. 128 of 8th November 2013), the Regulation Implementing the Consolidated Law (Presidential Decree 394/1999) will be soon amended, and the residence permit for stud reasons will have a multiannual duration, amounting to the duration of the period in which attending the course, without prejudice to the annual evaluation test. The permit may be extended for additional twelve months after the end of the educational pathway, in compliance with article 22, paragraph 11-bis, of the Consolidated Law, to allow labour placement.
For additional information and updates, please access the page Studiare in Italia - Studenti stranieri.
Foreign nationals holding a residence permit for study or training reasons may perform an employed activity for a time not exceeding 20 hours per week, and in any case not over 1,040 hours per year.
Foreign nationals holding a residence permit for study reasons may convert their permits, before the deadline, into a residence permit for work reasons, in the limits of the quotas set by the annual decree on the planning of entries for work reasons (in compliance with the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of 2013) and provided that the suitable end of employment documentation was submitted.
The following are exempted from the availability of quotas, and can therefore submit their applications for conversion at any time of the year:
·         Foreign nationals regularly residing in the national territory when turning eighteen years of age;
·         Foreign nationals that obtained in Italy a 3 or 5-year graduation following the related educational courses.
The qualifications that allow to apply for conversion outside of quotas are the following:
·         Graduation (3 years, 180 university credits);
·         Specialisation graduation (300 credits, including the 180 university graduation credits for the 3-year qualifications);
·         Specialisation diploma (minimum 2 years);
·         PhD (minimum 3 years);
·         1st or 2nd Level University Master Decree (minimum 60 university credits);
·         Specialisation diploma (annual duration - 60 credits).
Finally, foreign students obtaining in Italy a 1st or 2nd level PhD or master degree or graduation (3 or 5 years) may avail themselves of one additional year of stay after the expiration of the permit, during which looking for a job and, in case of eligibility, may convert their permit into an employed or self-employed work permit.
Foreign nationals may receive allowances in the form of scholarships, honour loans and housing services, provided by public administrations or other Italian public and private subjects, and other actions for the right to education, including those not destined to all students and on the basis of an equality of treatment with Italian students (article 46, paragraph 5, of the Implementing Regulation).
According to the provisions of the Consolidated Law on Immigration, foreign nationals regularly residing in Italy and owning professional titles legally recognised in Italy are allowed to be registered in professional Rolls, derogating the rules that provide fore the compulsory requirement of the Italian citizenship (article 37). Such registration is in fact fundamental for the exercise of professions entailing a compulsory registration in the Rolls above.
For obtaining such titles, specific entry visas and residence permits of the necessary duration may be issued when performing the qualifying examination to the students that achieved their graduation in Italy (article 47 of the Implementing Regulation of the Consolidated Law on Immigration). Passing the qualifying examination, whenever the requirements under the law are complied with, entails the registration in professional rolls, independently from the ownership of the Italian citizenship. In case foreign nationals have lived in Italy for at least five years are entitled to a priority registration compared to other foreign nationals applying for their registration in such rolls.
The recognition of the educational titles obtained abroad, with the objective of continuing one’s studies, pertains to universities and university institutes, which act autonomously and in compliance with bilateral agreements and international conventions (article 48 of the Implementing Regulation).
In case the recognition of the educational titles achieved abroad is not aimed to continue one’s studies, foreign nationals regularly residing in Italy may apply for the recognition of titles for the purpose of performing in Italy the corresponding professions, as self-employed or employed workers (article 49 of the Implementing Regulation). The recognition procedure includes the submission of applications to the competent Ministry, equipped with the related documents duly translated and certified as true copy by the diplomatic or consular Authorities of the Country in which documents were drafted. The Ministry therefore calls a conference of services with the participation of all the representatives of the Ministries involved, and the opinion of a representative of the professional roll involved is gathered. The competent Ministry issues a decree, which may provide for the enforcement of “compensatory measures”, or the performance of an adaptive apprenticeship with a maximum duration of three years, or the need to pass an ability test.
A list of the authorities competent for the recognition of professional qualifications is available here.
In case foreign nationals intend to perform healthcare professions it is necessary to be registered in special lists at the Ministry of Health, where indicating all the foreign nationals that obtained the recognition of titles enabling the exercise of a healthcare profession. In particular, such recognition takes place after assessing the knowledge of the Italian language and the provisions regulating the exercise of the healthcare profession in Italy. For the purpose of exercising such profession, the Ministry of Health also recognises academic and vocational training titles complementary to the titles enabling the exercise of a healthcare profession, obtained in non-EU third countries.
For additional information, please visit the website of the Ministry of Health.




·         Law 21 February 2014, no. 9
Article 5, paragraph 8 (amendments and abrogation of paragraph 4, Article 39 of the Consolidated Law on Immigration)
·       Law 8 November 2013, no. 128, Conversion into Law, with amendments, of the Decree-Law n. 104 of 12th September 2013, on the urgent measures on education, university and research.
Article 9 of Decree-Law 104 (duration of the residence permit for attending educational or training courses)
·         Law no. 296 of 27 December 2006, (Budget Law 2007)
Article 1, paragraph 622
·         Legislative Decree 76/2005
Article 1, paragraph 2 and 3 (right-duty to education and training)
·         Legislative Decree 226/2005
Article 1, paragraph 1 (second cycle of the education and training system)
·         Legislative Decree 286/1998 Consolidated Law on the provisions for the regulation of immigration and rules on the condition of foreign nationals
Article 6, paragraph 2 (options and duties related to staying in Italy)
Article 38 (Education of foreign nationals. Intercultural education)
Article 39 (Access to university courses)
·         MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR, Note of 13th April 2010 to the Extraordinary Commissioner of the Municipality of Bologna on Playschools, no. 2589.
Some references from the case-law:
·         STATE COUNCIL, Division VI, Judgement no. 1734, 27th February 2014.
·         CONSTITUTIONAL COURT, Judgement no. 222 of 16th July 2013.
·         CONSTITUTIONAL COURT, Judgement no. 2 of 14th January 2013.
·         COURT OF MILAN, Division I, Order of 11th February 2008.