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Italy: Prodi’s government plans to cut on university spending

The Italian government has announced cuts to universities’ spending as part of its new financial manoeuvre. The manoeuvre, which foresees a 20 per cent cut on spending related to rent, electricity, water, cleaning services, etc. for the 2007-2009 period, has been heavily criticised by the Italian Rectors’ Conference (CRUI) and by the minister for university and research himself, who threatened to resign if further cuts will be applied next year.

“Higher education and research are not a priority for the government”, wrote Prof. Guido Trombetti, president of CRUI, in one Italian newspaper, stating that there could not have been a worse start for Prodi’s government policy towards universities. According to Prof; Trombetti, this cut would mean 200 million Euro less for universities, not to mention the fact that many Italian universities’ rental contracts are on a pluriannual basis. And of course it would have a devastating effect on the quality of teaching and research.

Italian higher education stakeholders, as well as the minister for university and research, Fabio Mussi, are in disbelief at the government’s decision “It’s a decision – said Mr Mussi – which is in contrast with the party’s programme presented during the electoral campaign and with the programme that the ministry of university and research presented to the parliament”. If the government's decision goes through, it will make it very difficult for Italian universities to contribute to the Lisbon goals.

Italian Ministry of University and Research