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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Mobility in higher education


13.Mobility and internationalisation

13.2Mobility in higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Student mobility

University student mobility takes place mainly through the Erasmus+ Programme. The Programme foresees now more opportunities also for new graduates.

Students can choose among a study period abroad at a partner higher education institution (HEI) and a traineeship abroad in an enterprise or any other relevant workplace.

The study/traineeship period abroad must be part of the student's study programme to complete a degree at a first cycle (Bachelor), second cycle (Master) and third or doctoral cycle. A student can receive up to 12 months of Erasmus funding per each cycle of study, independently from the number and types of periods abroad.

Academic staff mobility

An increase in the number of academics (teachers and researchers) with teaching/research experience abroad is firmly sought by the Ministry of university and research and it is a high priority in the political agenda. The main goals are:

  1. to boost the return of Italian academics who have been teaching/researching abroad to their HEIs and Research Institutes (RI);
  2. to promote recruitment of young researchers, researchers and professors;
  3. to support Italian academics to research or teach in international HEI / RI, in the framework of bilateral or multilateral agreements between individual HEIs;
  4. to promote academic mobility within bilateral cooperation agreements between Italy and other countries;
  5. to increase Italian participation to EU research initiatives.

For these goals, there are no specific (numeric) targets set.

The existing national programs are focused on mobility for academics, researchers or Doctoral graduates.

For encouraging the return of Italian academics in Italian HEIs (goal 1) and promoting international recruitment of young researchers, researchers and academics (goal 2), the Ministry has put in place:

  • a program for the International recruitment for researchers and professors to cofund contracts for international researchers or professors who are based in HEIs from other countries and are invited to teach or do research in Italian HEIs;
  • the “Rita Levi Montalcini” Program to attract young researchers (Italians and foreigners) to carry out research projects in Italian HEIs.

Concerning the bilateral institutional cooperation (goal 3), there are two types of programs:

  • bilateral programs to encourage Italian Universities to cooperate with foreign institutions, such as “Università Italo – Francese”, or "Ateneo di studi italo-tedeschi", with a very strong focus on mobility of academics and students for research project or the award of Joint/Double Doctoral Degrees;
  • national programs to support research, the “Progetti di Ricerca di Interesse Nazionale” - PRIN (Research Projects on National Priorities), which include amongst eligible activities also international mobility for researchers and academics.

Furthermore, the regulations on academic personnel gives several opportunities to Italian professors and researchers who want to spend longer period for teaching and researching abroad either in a sabbatical period or within framework agreements between individual institutions (goal 3).

Academic mobility is also part of bilateral cooperation agreements between Italy and other countries (goal 4). Within cultural cooperation agreements, coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are resources to support Italian academics for short stay teaching and research activities in partner countries.

The organisation, coordination and financing of the programs mentioned is carried out by different services of the Ministry, of the Directorate General for students, development and internationalisation of higher education and the Directorate General for coordination, promotion and exploitation of research.

The role of the Ministry, in all initiative, includes the definition of funding priorities, the allocation of resources, the decision on eligible activities and participants, the publication of calls and the selection of beneficiaries. The picture is diversified from initiative to initiative concerning the beneficiaries and the financial resources available. In some cases, the reference is the HEI or Research Institute in itself while in other cases the reference are individuals or groups of academics who present proposals, on the basis of existing bilateral/multilateral agreement between their Institution and others.

As complementary information, we refer to data made available by the EU Commission either through staff mobility initiatives under the Erasmus programme or through the reporting of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

Data collection – excluding EU initiatives – is coordinated by the Ministry.

Finally, teaching opportunities for the teaching staff of higher education institutions are also provided by Erasmus+. Erasmus staff mobility programme allows the staff of higher education institutions to acquire knowledge or specific know-how from experiences and good practices abroad as well as practical skills relevant for their current job and their professional development and to the benefit of the institutions.

This action enables teaching staff of higher education institutions to spend a period of between 2 working days and 2 months (at least 8 teaching hours per week or a shorter period) in a HEI in another participating country.