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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Conditions of service for academic staff working in higher education


9.Teachers and education staff

9.5Conditions of service for academic staff working in higher education

Last update: 5 February 2024

Recruitment and conditions of service of professors and researchers at universities are regulated by the law. Given the different recruitment procedures that have been applied over the years, information in the paragraphs of this chapter on teaching staff at universities exclusively refer to professors and researchers and to recruitment procedures foreseen by the most recent legislation (law 240/2010, DPR 95/2016 and DM 120/2016).

Institutions of Higher education for the fine arts, music and dance (Alta formazione artistica, musicale e coreutica - Afam) recruit their teaching staff through national lists.

Planning policy

According to central legislation, universities should regulate the recruitment of professors by adopting three-year plans, in order to ensure the sustainability of costs.

Entry to the profession

Full and associate professors

Universities recruit professors through public vacancies according to their own regulations and to central legislation.

Central legislation has introduced the national scientific habilitation as the necessary requirement to access to public vacancies published by universities. Requirements and procedures to obtain the habilitation are regulated at central level (law 240/2010).

The national scientific habilitation is awarded at national level by a single national commission for each scientific sector, upon submission of the candidate’s scientific work. The habilitation is valid for six years. Scientific sectors are established at national level by central regulations and are revised at least every five years.

Within December of every second year, the Ministry of university and research launches the procedures for conferring the habilitation. Candidate can submit their candidatures throughout the year.

The commission examines candidate’s publications according to criteria such as quality, coherence with the relevant sector, importance of editors at national and international level, importance of publications within the scientific sector of habilitation.

The commission also verifies the impact of the candidate’s scientific production as well as qualifying research activities carried out (e.g. participation in conferences, coordination of research groups, teaching, etc).

The habilitation is awarded exclusively to candidates whose publications have been evaluated as ‘high quality’, have had a positive evaluation of the impact of their scientific production and have carried out at least three qualified activities. The National agency for the evaluation of university and research (Anvur) has defined indicators and benchmarks as well as the ‘threshold values’ that candidates must reach for obtaining the habilitation.
The recruitment of professors takes place at university level and starts with the launch of a public call for applying to the available posts. The call is addressed to the owners of the national scientific habilitation in the relevant scientific sector.

Universities carry out the recruitment procedures according to their own regulations and in compliance with the general principles established by central legislations also to ensure transparent and homogenous procedures throughout the country.

In particular, the call must be advertised on the university website, as well as on the websites of the Ministry of university and research and of the EU. The call should also specify the relevant scientific sector of the call, as well as the functions, rights and duties and the economic treatment of future professors. Relatives and relatives in law of professors or of managing staff of the university, within the fourth grade, cannot apply. The comparative procedures should aim at verifying the candidate’s scientific qualification (publication, curriculum, teaching activity) and, if required by the university, the candidate’s linguistic competences. 

Fixed-term professors

Universities, for teaching purposes, can also directly recruit highly qualified Italian or foreign experts. Contracts last one academic year and are renewable for a maximum of five years. Teaching activities can be either paid or unpaid; experts must have a minimum income and work in a public administration, body or enterprise.

Moreover, for specific integrative teaching needs, universities can conclude contracts for pecuniary interest with qualified subjects (owners of PhD, medicine specialisation, habilitation). Universities select candidates through comparative and publicly advertised procedures, regulated by each university.


Universities can recruit researchers through public vacancies according to their own regulations and in compliance with the general principles established by central legislations to ensure transparent and homogenous recruitment procedures throughout the country.

In particular, the call must be advertised on the university website, as well as on the Ministry of university and research and EU websites and should specify the relevant scientific sector, as well as the functions, the rights and duties and the economic treatment that will be included in the contract.

Candidates must have a PhD, or a specialisation diploma for the medicine sector, and any other requirement established by each university in its own regulations. Who works or has worked at the university with a permanent contract cannot apply for the vacancy.

Candidates undergo a preliminary evaluation of their curriculum, academic qualifications and scientific production; those who receive a positive assessment discuss their qualifications and production with the examining commission.

The procedure does not foresee written and oral exams, except for the foreign language test.

Research allowances

Finally, universities can assign research allowances through the following procedures:

  • Publication of a specific call for the scientific area of interest, followed by the direct submission of research projects by candidates,
  • Publication of different calls for specific research projects.

Calls follow the same publicity and transparency rules of the recruitment of professors and researchers.

Professional status

The central legislation regulates the professional status of professors and researchers. Their contract is based on private law.

Full and associate professors and researchers

Professors sign a permanent contract, while researchers sign a fixed-term contract.

There are two types of fixed-term contract for researchers:

a)    Initial three-year contract extendable, only once, for additional two years,
b)    Three-year contract, not renewable, for those who have already had an initial contract, or a research allowance, or grants or equivalent positions also abroad.

In 2010, the position of university researcher with permanent contract has been abolished and will be gradually phased out.

When entering the service, professors and researchers can choose between a full-time and a definite-time commitment (type-b researchers only have the full-time option). It is also possible to change the status in a second time; in this case, the new status must be kept for at least one academic year. 

The position of professor and of researcher is incompatible with commercial and industrial activities except for the establishment of university start-up or spin off companies.

Full-time professors and researchers can undergo paid scientific, journalistic, advice and evaluation activities in coherence with their institutional tasks. They can also carry out teaching and research activities for other public or private bodies, provided the activity does not interfere with their contractual commitment. It is also possible to work exclusively for another institution, which in this case pays the entire salary, for a maximum of five years. Full-time professors and researchers cannot work freelance.

The definite-time commitment is incompatible with academic offices (e.g. Rector, Director of the department, etc.) and with commercial or industrial activities. It is compatible with freelance activities and external advice activities, provided they are not in conflict with the contractual commitment.

Research allowances

Each research allowance can have a duration from one up to three years. Allowances are renewable and not combinable with other grants. The overall duration of allowances cannot exceed four years.

In case of researchers who have worked under fixed-term contracts and allowances with different universities as well as public and private bodies, the overall duration of the career must not exceed 12 years.


Professors and researchers are entitled to a basic salary, to a special allowance (a sum calculated for the cost-of-living adjustment) and to an additional allowance for the full-time commitment, if they chose this activity. This latter allowance is not valid for pension.

The basic salary of a full professor is calculated on the salary of an A-level general director in State administration (for example ambassador). Those who have chosen the full-time commitment are entitled to an additional 40% allowance. The salary of associate professors is equivalent to 70% of that of full professors.

The salary of researchers who choose the full-time commitment is calculated on the salary of permanent researchers (the position of permanent researcher has been abolished in 2010).

Every three years, professors and researchers submit a report of all teaching, research and managing activities carried out, together with the request of advancement in the salary scale. Basic salaries, allowances and the salary scales for full-time and part-time professors and for permanent researchers are published in the Annex 2 (professors) and Annex 3 (researchers) to the DPR 232/2011.

For fixed-term professors, the economic treatment has been established at central level between a minimum of 25 and a maximum of 100 €/hour (Decree 313/2011).

The minimum annual net amount of research allowances is €19 397 (DM 102/2011).

Working time and holidays

The annual workload (research, study, teaching) is 1 500 hours for full-time professors and researchers and 750 hour in case of definite-time commitments.

Professors should carry out teaching activities (included guidance, tutoring and assessments) according to criteria established in each university regulation; however, full-time professors should teach for at least 350 hours/year, while the commitment of definite-time professors for at least 250 hours/year.

Researchers carry out additional teaching activities for 350 (full-time contract) or 200 hours per year (definite-time contract).

Professors and researchers are entitled to paid and unpaid leave. Professors and researchers are placed on unpaid leave, for a maximum of five years, for incompatibility with other offices, for example political positions, appointment to managerial position in the state administration or for commitments in public or private bodies, also at international level.

Periods of unpaid leave are applicable to career progression and pension.

Promotion, advancement

Advancement from a category to another is possible only through comparative procedures and the possession of the national scientific qualification. 
University regulations establish self-evaluation and checking methods in order to verify that professors and researchers effectively carry out the required teaching activities. Research activities are verified according to criteria established by the National agency for the evaluation of university and research (Anvur).

In case of negative assessment, professors and researchers cannot participate in evaluation bodies and commissions and are excluded from carrier progression (see below).

Moreover, every three years, professors and researchers submit a report of all teaching, research and managing activities carried out, together with the request of advancement in the salary scale. Universities are responsible of the evaluation according to their own regulations. In case of negative assessment, the request of economic advancement can be submitted only after one academic year. In case of no advancement, the relevant economic amount is allocated to the university fund for rewarding professors and researchers. The possibility of submitting the request of advancement in the salary scale for researchers refers to the permanent researcher position, which has been abolished in 2010 and will gradually be phased out.
Researchers with a three-year no renewable contract (type-b contract) and with the national scientific habilitation can undergo a specific evaluation process in the final year of their contract. In case of positive evaluation they advance to the ‘associate professor’ position.

Retirement and pensions

In the past years several laws have regulated retirement and pensions of workers in all sectors. Therefore, it is not possible to provide a complete frame of the rules governing the retirement and pension of professors and researchers.

Professors and researchers usually retire on the 1st November after they have turned the retirement age foreseen by the legislation in force for the relevant position.

Full professors retire at 70 years. Those who entered service before November 2005 can ask to keep the service for additional two years. 
Associate professors retire at 70 years in case they entered the service after November 2005, otherwise they retire al 66 if they have acquired the right to pension at 31 December 2011. All the others retire at 66 years and 3 months.


Contents revised: February 2024

Researchers retire at 65 years if they have acquired the right to pension at 31 December 2011, otherwise they retire at 66 years and 3 months.