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New act on academic careers worries Italian academic staff

The Italian Parliament recently approved the law on the reform of the status and recruitment procedures of academic staff presented by the Minister of University, Ms. Letizia Moratti. Although acknowledging the need to regulate the matter, the academic sector has deeply criticised the act, in particular the new structure of university careers. The existing “researcher” status will be abolished by 2013 and will be replaced by non-tenured contracts. The financial aspects of the reform are also highly unpopular, as implementation will be charged upon the university budgets without any additional resources. The CRUI (Conference of Italian University Rectors) has underlined the need to design national reforms concerning the university system within a wider regulatory framework, which should deal with both the problems of university financing and of the definition of criteria for the assessment of universities’ performance. The decrease in public funding has been the relentless trend of the last years in Italy. Discussions with the government about state funding are still underway: the 2006 financial law results in an overall decrease of about € 400 million compared to last year, while expenses and wages increase every year. On the occasion of the presentation of the Report on the State of the Italian Universities 2005, the President of the CRUI proposed a National Forum on University, urging political parties to include university within the top items of the political agenda of the next government.