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Decrease in number of Italian Erasmus students to be blamed on new Bachelor/Master structure?

A study carried out by Almalaurea, a consortium of 35 Italian universities, has recently reported that the number of graduates who spent a period of their study abroad has decreased to 11.3% in 2004 compared to 19% in 2001. Interestingly, this decrease seems to coincide with the introduction of the new Bachelor/Master structure. The report argues that students find it increasingly difficult to fit a period of study abroad in the tight schedule of the new condensed degree programmes. Attendances to seminars, lessons, laboratories and the high number of exams (sometimes up to 40 in 3 years) overcome the desire to study abroad as students find themselves under pressure to finish their studies on time. However, several Erasmus coordinators from Italian universities, when asked to comment about this trend, replied that it would be too simplistic to blame this situation on the three-plus-two degree system, and that one of the main causes of this trend is the struggling Italian economy, with families finding it difficult to support their children during their studies abroad. As a possible solution, the coordinators suggest that students who go on to an Erasmus exchange should earn extra credits for every month they spend abroad in the same way as they earn extra credits for attending seminars, laboratory classes, etc. Almalaurea Report