Research Organizations

Research and technological development activities are carried out on national level by different players both from public and private sector. Key actors are universities, public research institutes, profit and non-profit companies. For a full description please visit researchitaly website.  Priorities and areas of intervention are determined at government level and listed in the National Research Programme (PNR) drawn up every three years. 

Research in Italy is supported mainly from public funds allocated by the Ministry for Universities and Research (MIUR) as well as from other central bodies, e.g. the Ministry of Health, the Ministry for the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture, etc.  Public funding may derive from national expenditure and regional sources (funding comes from regional balance sheets to the development and innovation process in local production systems). European funds and grants contribute largely to research and innovation activities. In Italy private investment may come from business and from leading national associations. 

Evaluation and assessment of research activities are carried out  at national level by the National Committee of Guarantors for Research – CNGR (Comitato Nazionale dei Garanti per la Ricerca) and the National Agency for the Evaluation of the University and Research Systems - ANVUR (Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del sistema Universitario e della Ricerca).

For more information on research in Italy (overview, funding, main actors, etc.) please visit To know more about internationalisation, agreements, etc. please visit


The Italian Higher Education System

Italian higher education has a binary system and consists of two main sectors:

  • the university sector: at present it is made up of 96 university institutions
  • the non-university sector: it includes 4 education typologies with their higher education institutions: higher schools of Arts, higher education in language mediation, higher integrated education (FIS) (e.g. higher technical education, etc.), a specific fields (e.g. diplomatic, archiving, restoration, military studies, etc.)

The University Sector

Universities provide teaching and carry out research activities. According to the principle of autonomy, each university draws up its own statutes and internal regulations which establish the rules for its administration, teaching and research.

As far as the internal structure is concerned, in the traditional university structure departments organise research in line with the teaching that is carried out and coordinated at a faculty level and they also organise PhD courses and engage in research activity and consultancy outside the university. Departments are administered by department councils and their directors. Specific units have been created to manage questions relating to the management of research and policies connected with patents and intellectual property rights.

Academic staff at universities are organised into the following main categories:

  • Ordinary (or Full) professors – first level (professori ordinari)
  • Associate professors – second level (professori associati)
  • Contract professors (professori a contratto)
  • University researchers (ricercatori) who can be given teaching responsibilities

For an overview of career levels in different countries click here (source: Ministerial Decree 2/05/2011) while at european level the European Commission promoted in 2011 the paper "Towards a European Framework for research careers", a  “Research profiles descriptors”  that may apply to all researchers, independently of where they work, in the private or public sector.


University studies are organised into three cycles:

  1. bachelor’s degrees (in Italian laurea)
  2. master’s degrees (in Italian laurea magistrale)
  3. doctorates (in Italian dottorato di ricerca)

The second and third cycles also include specific adult education Degrees and Specialisation Degrees.

Each degree course is organised on the basis of major disciplinary classifications (known as “Classes” of degrees), pointing out the learning outcomes for the different subject areas. 

Students are awarded credits expressed in CFU (Crediti Formativi Universitari).  CFU credits are compatible with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). The ECTS makes it easier to compare the study programmes of different universities and thus facilitates mobility and academic recognition within the European Higher Education; it is a student-centred system based on the student workload required to achieve the objectives of a programme, objectives preferably specified in terms of learning outcomes and competences to be acquired. Area. For more information, visit the ECTS website.

Information about studying in Italy please visit

Recognition of Diplomas and Qualifications

Tailored information on recognition of Diplomas and Qualification is provided by the National ENIC-NARIC Centre which is represented in Italy by the CIMEA - Centro di Informazione sulla Mobilità e le Equivalenze Accademiche (Information Centre on Academic Mobility and Equivalence). It offers the following services:

  • information to individuals about opportunities and procedures for the recognition of foreign study qualifications
  • advice to institutions on the comparability of foreign qualifications for recognition purposes
  • free movement of EU citizens with particular reference to international student mobility
  •  international documentation centre and a few specialised databases.

For further information and contacts, visit CIMEA website.

Network & Clusters

The following development models have been identified in Italy to enhance relations among different actors involved in the research sector and to strengthen partnership and cooperation in particular between public and private bodies and among training, research and innovation.

  • University centres of excellence: public and private actors from different backgrounds operate within these virtual centres of excellence and work on real multi-sectorial projects of complementary nature. University centres for excellence in research were funded for the first time in 2000. Each year professors and researchers of a university centre of excellence submit multidisciplinary projects on topics relating to Research and Development. Centres of excellence have been particularly set up in the following sectors: biotechnologies and biomedicine, novel materials, ICT, environmental studies, logistics, economic and social sciences.
    More information:
  • Technology clusters:National Technology Clusters have been set up by the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) in 2012 according with the prioritities of Horizon2020 programme. These networks include public and private bodies operating throughout the country. Each cluster focuses its activity on a specific technology and application area of strategic interest to the national industry that are: aerospace; agrifood; green chemistry; smart factory; transport and mobility systems of land and ocean surface; life sciences; technologies for living environment; technologies for Smart Communities. 
    More information:

  • Science and Technology Parks: in Italy they were set up in the ‘90s thanks to funds allocated by the Ministry for University and Research and the EU Structural Funds. Science and Technology Parks aim at enhancing, creating and transferring of scientific and technological knowledge so as to ensure the region’s innovative development in a way that is also economically and socially sustainable. Parks involve different actors, local and national, public and private, businesses and research institutions. Most parks have joined the Associazione Parchi Scientifici e Tecnologici Italiani (APSTI) (Association of Italian Science and Technology Parks) which has 31 members representing almost all the Italian regions that promote economic development through innovation.
    Similarly, parks all over the world are members of the International Association of Science Parks (IASP).
    More information APSTI and  IASP