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The current Conference time is: 15th Aug 2022, 12:48:07pm CEST

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Overall view of the program
Parallel sessions - E.11.2 Tertiary Education in Italy: The Prism of Differences
Friday, 04/June/2021:
1:15pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Alessandra Petrucci
Session Chair: Mariano Porcu
Session Chair: Giancarlo Ragozini
Location: Room 8

Session Panels:
E.11. Tertiary Education in Italy: The Prism of Differences

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Fabio Aiello1, Massimo Attanasio2, Andrea Priulla2

1Università di Enna "Kore", Italia; 2Università di Palermo

In recent years university students' mobility has become increasingly important at a national level. It has been the subject of numerous studies on the South-Centre and South-North mobility flows of Italian students who choose university out of their residence region.

The aim is twofold: to provide quantitative information on the university enrollment of the foreign students in the Italian universities (the size of the flows of foreign students enrolled at Italian universities, according to some socio-demographic characteristics); to measure the dropout rates and the time taken to obtain the degree comparing to the Italian students. Foreign students were classified into two groups: students with a high school diploma obtained abroad (i.e., IST international students) and foreign students with a high school diploma obtained in Italy (i.e., SGI second-generation immigrants).

The analysis is based on the database "Anagrafe Nazionale Studenti" (ANS) of the Miur, concerning the careers of the university students enrolled in Italy from 2008/09 to 2017/18 (

The results show that the IST and SGI enrolled in Italy have increased in the last decade, especially from 2014 to 2017 (+19.4%), but their presence is still very limited: 4.7% in 2011 and 5.4% in 2017 compared to other European countries. Their university performance is poor with dropout rates much higher than the Italian ones, even if the SGI are better. Southern universities enroll a small amount of IST and SGI students. Finally, the results confirm that the dramatic dropout rates at university are in line with their performance in the high school.


  1. Enea M. (2018). From South to North? Mobility of Southern Italian Students at the Transition from the First to the Second Level University Degree. In Studies in Theoretical and Applied Statistics. Springer International Publishing, pp. 239–249. Doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-73906-9-22.
  2. Attanasio M., Enea M. (2019). La mobilità degli studenti universitari nell’ultimo decennio in Italia. In Rapporto sulla popolazione. L'istruzione in Italia. De Santis G., Pirani E., Porcu, M. pp. 43–58. Bologna, Il Mulino. ISBN: 978-88-15-28018-3.
  3. Contini D., Cugnata F. e Scagni A. (2018). Social selection in higher education. Enrolment, dropout and timely degree attainment in Italy. Higher Education, 75(3):1-24. Doi: 10.1007/s10734-017-0170-9.
  4. Ezza A., Fadda N., Pischedda G., Marinò L. (2019). Il "grande gap": gli effetti del performance budgeting sulle politiche di reclutamento delle Università italiane, Management Control. Vol 2: 99–121
  5. Database Mobysu.It (2016). Mobilità degli studi universitari in Italia, Protocollo di ricerca MIUR-Università degli Studi di Palermo, Cagliari, Siena, Torino, Sassari, Firenze e Napoli Federico II, Fonte dei dati ANS-MIUR/CINECA.
  6. Colombo M., Ongini V. (a cura di) (2014). Alunni con cittadinanza non italiana. L’eterogeneità dei percorsi scolastici. Rapporto nazionale 2012/13. Fondazione Ismu, Ministero dell’Istruzione, della Università e della Ricerca.


Andrea Priulla, Nicoletta D'Angelo, Massimo Attanasio

Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche, Aziendali e Statistiche, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Italy

Gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses is a prevalent topic in the recent literature, and quantitative studies on this relationship are essential to understand better the discussion and issues claimed by the arguments and the theories on this topic.

In Italy, since 1989, the overall share of females enrolling at university is larger than the males' one, but females are still underrepresented in almost all the STEM fields, while overrepresented in nursing, humanities, and law schools.

Our paper aims to investigate the gender differences in terms of university performance in STEM courses in Italy.

Data are provided by the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MIUR). The analysis concerns freshmen enrolled at a 3-year STEM degree course in the Italian universities in the last decade. We focus on the relationship between the number of university credits (CUs) earned during the first year (a good predictor of the regularity of the career) and the probability of getting the Bachelor degree within four years. Furthermore, we account for other relevant covariates regarding students' high school career and some of their demographic characteristics.

The novelty of our work consists of a representation of the relationship between CUs and the completion of the degree course. Segmented regression models are applied to identify the number of CUs that discriminate between two groups: the first one with a high probability of getting a BA and the second one with a low probability.

Our analysis confirms the first-year performance is strongly related to obtaining the Bachelor degree within four years. This relation often varies between males and females and is in line with the divide between the (female) care-oriented and the (male) technical-oriented courses. That relationship varies also among the STEM courses: the probability of getting the degree is higher for males in computer science, mathematics, and slightly higher in natural sciences and biotechnology.

The results show that the care/technical divide is consistent but in mathematics, where males outperform females. Though we initially included mathematics in the (female) care-oriented group, because it was considered a teaching-oriented course in the past, mathematicians’ job placement has recently changed being more technical and computer science oriented. Therefore, nowadays, math could be considered both a care and a technical oriented course.

We also highlight an interesting pattern in engineering, which is one of the most “masculinised” courses. It looks like female performance follows the male stream, which is an encouraging result, even if the limited female component is still an issue.


Clelia Cascella


Gender segregation in Higher Education (HE) is large in several countries throughout the world (Organization for Economc Cooperation and Developement, 2019), and it is a serious matter of concern as it affects people’s careers, their future employability and wage (European Institute of Gender Equality, 2017).

Several studies have shown that there is a positive, statistically significant association between women’s underrepresentation in some academic subjects (especially, in scientific subjects) and traditional attitudes towards gender and gendered roles (for a review, Hendley & Charles, 2015). In addition, recent studies have clearly shown that, in Europe, gender attitudes significantly vary region to region also within the same country, and that in most of the European countries the variability of gender attitudes between regions (within the same country) is larger than that between European countries (Cascella et al., under review). Nonetheless, to date there is little research aimed to explore the possible association between gender attitudes and gender segregation in HE at regional level, within the same country. The current paper aims to fill this gap.

Data collected by the Italian Ministry of Education have been used to develop an index of gender segregation in HE. We focused on Italy because the well-known North/South divide – with a North typically characterized by more modern gender attitudes in contrast with the South where people’s attitudes towards and about gender are more traditional (Cascella & Pampaka, 2020) – makes Italy an interesting case study to explore the possible association between gender attitudes and gender segregation in HE, at regional level.

In order to measure gender attitudes, data collected by the European Values Survey (2017) have been used to develop a new gender attitudes scale by using the Rasch model (Rasch, 1960).

Results confirmed that gender attitudes largely vary by region and, in addition to previous studies, showed that very traditional regions can be disclosed both in northern and in southern Italy. Moreover, results showed that gender segregation in HE is still large in Italy but it is in favor of girls both in sciences and humanities, in southern more than in northern Italy. Results showed a weak association between gender attitudes and gender segregation. Such as association is slightly larger in relation to some subjects, and in social sciences and humanities more than in sciences, thus suggesting that gender segregation may be no longer (primarily) attributable to stereotype threat, but to other personal and contextual factors and/or to their intersectionality. Implications for future research have been discussed.


Maria Veronica Dorgali, Francesca Giambona, Alessandra Petrucci

Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italia

Background: The Bologna Process has brought significant changes in the Italian education system, increasing student mobility and expanding available options of education and training. In addition, yearly financial provisions from central government to public universities depend in part on their capabilities to attract students from other territories [2]. In this perspective, understanding students’ mobility has become one of the most important aspects for increasing university attractiveness [3,4]. Whereas Italian HEIs compete for students mainly by increasing the number of teaching services and the variety and quantity of educational courses, many studies have reported that student migration patterns are often influenced by the socio-economic conditions of the territory of destination (better job opportunities, higher salaries, etc.) [1,2]. In fact, as underlined by many studies, between-region mobility is often characterized by a unidirectional flow from the South to the Center and North of the country [1,2].In this theoretical framework, this contribution tries to give some preliminary information about the attractiveness of bachelor’s and single-cycle degrees offered by the three most important Tuscany universities, i.e. Firenze (UNIFI), Pisa (UNIPI) and Siena (UNISI).

Data and methods: Incoming flows from external regions to the three Tuscany universities was analysed by considering the National Register of Students (ANS), an administrative database that tracks the careers of the individuals who enrolled the Italian HE system. Our database contains information on the cohorts of students enrolled from 2008 to 2017. The aim of this preliminary study is to analyse intraregional migratory movements of Tuscany universities.

Preliminary results: University of Florence is characterized by a strong intra-regional flow, attracting more than 80% of Tuscany residents per year. Interregional movers are mainly coming from South (Sicily, Calabria, Puglia, Campania), Center (Lazio, Umbria) and North (Emilia-Romagna, Veneto), with a percentage that goes from 2% to 4% of the total enrolled and that changes over years. The within regional mobility of Tuscany residents to Pisa and Siena Universities is not as much bigger as the one observed for UNIFI. In fact, Pisa attracts around the 60-70% of neighboring residents whereas the percentage for UNISI falls within the 60% and the 50%. For UNIPI, incoming students mostly come from Sicily (5%-9% of total enrolled), Liguria, Puglia, Calabria, Lazio e Sardinia. UNISI most frequent regions of origin are Sicily (6%-15% of total enrolled), Puglia and Campania, Lazio, Basilicata and Umbria. The percentage of new matriculates coming from North regions seems to increase over the last years for all the regional universities.

Preliminary conclusions: According to our preliminary results UNIFI, UNIPI and UNISI seemed to attract high percentage of students from other territories. Further analysis are needed to consistently evaluate incoming-outgoing flows of bachelor, single-cycle and master degrees.


1. Columbu, S., Porcu, M., Primerano, I., Sulis, I., & Vitale, M. P. (2021). Geography of Italian student mobility: A network analysis approach. Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, 73, 100918.

2. Giambona, F., Porcu, M., & Sulis, I. (2017). Students Mobility: Assessing the Determinants of Attractiveness Across Competing Territorial Areas. Social Indicators Research, 133(3), 1105–1132.

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