According to the law, minors present in Italy have the right to education regardless of their legal status. They are subject to compulsory education and they are enrolled in Italian schools under the conditions provided for Italian minors. Enrolment may be requested at any time during the school year.
The law distinguishes between minors under the age of 16 and over 16.
- Minors under 16 are subject to compulsory education and they are enrolled in a grade corresponding to their actual age. Taking into account the curriculum followed by the pupil in the country of origin and his or her skills, the Teachers’ Board can decide otherwise, providing the assignment to the class immediately below or above the one corresponding to the minor’s age.
- Minors over 16 and no longer subject to compulsory education are enrolled if they prove proper self-preparation on the entire prescribed programme for the class they wish to follow.
Current legislation does not allow the establishment of special classes for foreign students and the Circular of the Ministry of Education of 8 January 2010 maintains that the number of non-nationals in school classes should be limited to 30%.
Schools are not obliged to provide specific language support for non-national students but, according to the law, the Teachers’ Board defines, in relation to the level of competence of foreign students, the necessary adaptation of curricula and can adopt specific individualised or group interventions to facilitate learning of the Italian language.
As underlined by the Ministry of Education in guidelines issued in February 2014, special attention should be paid to Italian language labs. The Ministry observes that an effective intervention should provide about 8-10 hours per week dedicated to Italian language labs (about 2 hours per day) for a duration of 3-4 months.
The Qualification Decree also specifies that minors holding refugee status or subsidiary protection status have access to education of all levels, under the same procedures provided for Italian citizens, while adult beneficiaries have the right of access to education under the conditions provided for the other third-country nationals.
International protection beneficiaries can require the recognition of the equivalence of the education qualifications.
Paragraph 3-bis of Art. 26 of the Qualification Decree provides that: “to recognize professional qualifications, diplomas, certificates and other qualifications obtained by refugees or beneficiaries of subsidiary protection abroad, competent authorities shall identify appropriate systems of assessment, validation and accreditation allowing for the recognition of qualifications under Art. 49 of Decree of the President of the Republic No. 394 of 31 August, 1999, even when the country where the degree was obtained will not issue a certification, provided that the person concerned will prove his/her impossibility to acquire such certification”.
The General Direction for students, development and higher education internationalization of the Ministry for Education, University and Research, inside its “Procedures for entry, residency and enrolment of international students and the respective recognition of qualifications, for higher education courses in Italy” has invited Italian higher education institutions to “recognise cycles and periods of study conducted abroad and foreign study qualifications, with a view to entering higher education, proceeding with university studies and obtaining Italian university qualifications (Art. 2 Law 148/2002)” and “to make all necessary efforts to introduce internal procedures and mechanisms to evaluate refugee and subsidiary protection holder qualifications, even in cases where all or part of the relative documents certifying the qualifications are missing”.
Despite the above mentioned normative having the potential to have a significant and positive impact on the integration of beneficiaries of international protection, until recently such provision has been implemented only on an occasional basis, mostly by single universities that have autonomously recognized qualifications even in the absence of original certificates.
In 2017, the Council of Europe launched the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees (EQPR) through a pilot project involving four countries, including Italy, as well as the UNHCR. The purpose of the EQPR is to provide a methodology for assessing refugees’ qualifications even when these cannot be fully documented and to have the assessment accepted across borders. It provides an assessment of higher education qualifications based on available documentation and a structured interview. It also presents information on the applicant’s work experience and language proficiency. The document provides reliable information for integration and progression towards employment and admission to further studies. In Italy, the EQPR has been used mainly as an instrument for access to higher education, giving refugees with adequate qualifications the possibility to enrol in academic programmes. So far, 143 interviews have been conducted and 49 EQPR holders are studying at Italian higher education institutions. This has been made possible thanks to a systemic approach, with the support of the Ministry of University and Research, the coordination of CIMEA (the Italian ENIC), and the active involvement of 34 higher education institutions in the National Coordination for the Evaluation of Refugee Qualifications (CNVQR). Since 2020, the EQPR was accepted among the documents allowing holders to apply for the university scholarships offered to refugees or international protection holders managed by the Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI) with the Italian Ministry of the Interior and the National Association of the bodies for the right to higher education (ANDISU). CRUI received 207 applications, and 96 out of the 100 scholarships available were awarded to students now enrolled in Italian universities. Of these, 11 are EQPR holders.
 Article 38 TUI; Article 45 PD 394/1999.
 Article 45(2) PD 394/1999.
 Article 192(3) LD 297/1994.
 For more information, see ASGI, Minori stranieri e diritto all’istruzione e alla formazione professionale. Sintesi della normativa vigente e delle indicazioni ministeriali, ASGI, March 2014, available at http://bit.ly/2kHi5Sf.
 Article 26 Qualification Decree.
 Article 26 Qualification Decree.
 University World News, Opening up education opportunities for refugee scholars, 27 March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/363MZBD; Council of Europe (CoE), European Qualifications Passport for Refugees, https://www.coe.int/en/web/education/recognition-of-refugees-qualifications; ASGI, Recognition of academic and employment qualifications of refugees, 27 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3u3DFpi.