Refugees in Italy have the same rights to education as all Italians.
Education for children and adolescents
The Italian law states that all children and adolescents, irrespective of their status, have the right to education and the obligation to go to school until the age of 16. This means that all children aged between 6-16 years old that are in Italy must enroll and attend school regularly. When a school receives the application for enrollment of a foreign citizen, it asks for the same documents requested for Italian children. Please note that the lack of residence registration or of previous educational experiences cannot prevent a child from enrolling in school.
The application for enrollment in schools at all levels must be filled in online, through the website of the Ministry of Education. In case a family does not have access to the Internet and/or a computer, the school for which the child is applying can support in registering the application, upon request.
You can find more information on the website Refugee.info
Education for adults
People older than 16 with a valid permit of stay have the right to go to public schools for adults, under the same conditions as Italian citizens. Adult learning classes may take place either at public schools at night or at Provincial Centers for Adults Education (Centri Provinciali per l’istruzione degli Adulti – CPIA).
You can enroll directly at the CPIA of your choice (for Lower secondary school – scuola secondaria di primo grado) or at the school organizing the classes (for Upper secondary school – scuola secondaria di secondo grado).
To enroll in an Upper secondary school you need a lower secondary school qualification (Middle School License – Licenza media) obtained in Italy or, if obtained abroad, legally recognized. Many schools allow you to take the Licenza media exam while they are attending the evening course of upper secondary education.
Access to University
The possibility for asylum seekers to enroll in universities varies. Only a few universities currently allow asylum seekers to complete “full enrollment” (for example, the Universities of Palermo and Messina).
It is more common for asylum seekers to be allowed enroll “under condition”: the enrollment will be finalized when you are recognized as a refugee in Italy. If you are an asylum seeker, most of universities allows you to attend classes and do exams while you are waiting for the reply on your asylum application. In order to graduate or obtain the title (diploma), you must be granted a form of protection (refugee status, subsidiary protection or special protection).
If you are a refugee, you have the right to access university, but there may be some practical obstacles including: whether you have the relevant language skills and academic attestations or the necessary financial resources.
Those who had to leave their own country do not always bring with them the original documentation proving they studied or completed school. Furthermore, it may be impossible, or too dangerous, for you to request these documents from the authorities of your country of origin.
For refugees, Italian law provides for the possibility of recognizing qualifications “even in the absence of certification from the State in which the qualification was obtained, where the person concerned proves that he or she cannot acquire this certification”.
Depending on your individual condition and on the university, there are different procedures:
- Statement of Comparability (Attestato di comparabilità), issued free of charge by CIMEA – the Information Centre on Academic Mobility and Equivalence – to refugees via its own service of certification of qualifications – Diplome.
- Statement of Validity (Dichiarazione di Valore), issued by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI), through a specific request service for refugees and holders of subsidiary protection.
- EQPR (European Qualification Passport for Refugees): the Council of Europe (COE) has developed an evaluation procedure for cases in which the documentation is incomplete or even absent.
- To determine which procedure is best suited to your situation, we recommend that you contact the university where you would like to enroll.
For further information you can also contact CIMEA, which is the official body charged for information and consulting services relating to the procedures for the recognition of academic qualifications in Italy.
Financing your studies
“How can I support myself while I attend university?”
To help refugees and subsidiary protection holders, the majority of Italian universities have procedures that may exempt you from having to pay tuition fees. Please contact the university you wish to enroll in for more details.
In addition, in Italy there are two scholarship programs accessible to refugees and subsidiary protection holders:
Every year since 2016, the Ministry of the Interior and the Conference of Rectors of Italian Universities (CRUI) have made 100 scholarships available to refugee and to subsidiary protection holders.
When: the call is usually published at the beginning of July
The Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) finances grants for the Right to University Study (DSU) every year, through a specific fund called the “Single Fund for Student Welfare and the Right to Study”.
These scholarships are accessible to all students (Italian and foreign citizens), on the basis of economic needs and certain merit requirements. For refugees and subsidiary protection holders there are some simplifications related to certification of income in order to demonstrate your economic need.
The grants are managed by the Regions, in ways that may vary from one region to another.
When: tenders generally open at the beginning of June and are open, depending on the region, throughout the summer.
How: to find the calls in your region or for your university, visit the DSU website
Scholarships for Ukrainian students
UnitelmaSapienza University has extended to Ukrainian students the access to the programme “Non fermarti, con UnitelmaSapienza vai a 1.000!”, which grants the possibility to enroll to university courses and post-graduate diplomas free of charge, including the possibility to enroll in Italian language classes and to be supported by an Ukrainian cultural mediator.
Other services and information
Some universities offer orientation and peer support services for refugees. Contact the student association in your university to get more information.