BM 61: The right to study, emergency in Italy
The right to Higher Education represents the right of a generation to have access to the higher levels of Knowledge without being hampered by the social or economical backgrounds they come from and represents the chance for every individual to build his of her future.
In the present economical crisis is the more and more necessary to tackle the central importance of Public Higher Education as a tool of cultural growth and as the basis for a new model of economy and society.
Italian situation presents since years systemic lacks in this. Funding for students support services are, since a long time, highly insufficient to guarantee the 100% coverage in scholarships and the scholarship system itself is not heading towards an equal and distributed system but it only addresses and reaches a very small percentage of students population. In 2009 the public funding for scholarships has reached the top disposable amount, getting up to an investment of 322 millions euro (sum of regional funds, students tuition fees, national funds). In particular, in 2009 the national fund has been of 246 millions euro: nevertheless in the following years, a progressive cut has been done which will drive in 2013 a national investment of only 13 millions of euro meaning a cut of 95% on scholarships fund in few years. Moreover, this is happening in a context in which already the 16% of students who should have had access to it with respect to the present standards, did not get the scholarship in 2009/2010: and the percentage is gradually increasing and is threateningly reaching even more worrying levels for next year. Beside the public funding on scholarship, there is the issue of the huge lack of support services provided ( only 41000 places in dormitories and 225 students canteens for more than 1,8 million students).
The dramatic situation is worsened by the high regional differences that effect the investment ( the students support services have so far been run by the regional administration) : due to strong gaps in Italian region economical wellness, this drives to profound lacks of services and scholarship coverage in some regions, moreover the southern ones which in 2010 already didn’t cover more of the half of rightholder students.
An extraordinary investment on students support services and grants ought be needed: nevertheless, the last years governmental policies have not simply not increased the disposable funds but have harshly cut on this really weak and underfinanced sector.
The right to Higher Education ought to represent a priority in the plan of investments of our countries and Italy as well: Italy in special, needs to reform the present students support system going towards a strategic approach able to create and fund services as well as a new students welfare system which could remove economical and social obstacles which still avoid the access of too many young citizens to the higher levels of education.