Report 2003-06 & Previsions 2007



As soon as the Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC) was ratified by the Italian Parliament in 2002, CIMEA, the Italian Enic-Naric, drew up an action plan to promote the implementation of its principles and the adoption of appropriate recognition procedures in Italy. The plan, approved by the relevant Italian Ministry, has been recently revised taking into account the guidelines elaborated by the Enic Bureau, the NARIC Advisory Board and the Bureau of the Lisbon Recognition Convention Committe, approved by the Bologna Follow up Group (Vienna, 7th April 2006) and submitted to the Enic and Naric networks at their 13th Joint Meeting (Tallinn, 4-6- June 2006).

Here below the decisions and actions already taken in Italy are reported, as well as the actions planned for the near future.





* 2002 - The Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC) was ratified by Law No. 148 of 11th July 2002. Since Art.s 4 and 5 of the quoted law made reference to two further legal provisions to be taken, the ratification instrument could not be deposited with the two relevant Secretariats.

* 2004 - The Ministerial Decree No. 214 of 26th April 2004 was published; in conformity to Art. 4 of Law 148/2002, it regulates the recognition of the qualifications awarded by foreign HEIs based in the Italian territory.

* 2006 - Art.s 12 and 13 of Law No. 29 of 25th January 2006 have provided the legal regulations for cases of academic recognition falling within the competence of public administrations other than universities (see Art. 5 of Law 148/2002).

* 2007 - the President of the Republic is expected to sign and deposit all the ratification instruments.





The national legislation on the academic recognition of foreign primary and secondary qualifications was reviewed; it has been recently integrated by Art. 13 of Law 29/2006.



Law 148/2002 states what follows:

- academic recognition is mainly a responsibility of individual Italian universities (Art. 2);

- universities have to apply the Lisbon Recognition Convention, and to complete their recognition procedures within 90 days from the reception of a duly documented application (Art. 3);

- Art. 332 of the Royal Decree 1592/1933 (the old legal provision on academic recognition) is revoked (Art. 9);

- recognition of qualifications awarded by TNE HEIs based in Italy shall be regulated by a separte legal provision (Art. 4);

- academic recognition for certain specific purposes (e.g. selection for allocation of scholarships/fellowships, assignment of some tasks within public entities, etc.) is the responsibility of some State administrations; rules must be provided for in a separate legal instrument (Art. 5).

In Italy the repealing of the old legislation on academic recognition has caused the automatic extension of the LRC to H.Ed. qualifications from all countries in the world.



* 2007 - It has been planned to extend the LRC also to AFAM institutions, i.e. those Italian HEIs of the non-university sector that now rank at university level thanks to the implementation of the 1999 H.Ed. reform in conformity to the Bologna Declaration (fine arts academies, higher schools of design, national dance academy, national drama academy, music conservatories, recognised musical institutes).  Consequently, also foreign academic qualifications in visual and applied arts, dance, design, drama, music will soon be eligible for recognition through the LRC.









The two main academic recognition purposes Italian universities have to deal with are the following:

* Finalised recognition for admission to further studies.

* Recognition by equivalence procedures /equipollenza resulting in the awarding of an Italian degree, as per the applicant’s request.


The general criteria recently adopted by several universities are common to all recognition purposes, while specific criteria may depend on the purpose for which recognition is sought. The very basic criteria generally agreed upon are related to:

* the legal status of the awarding institution (its definition is a prerequisite to proceed in the evaluation); the awarding HEI must form "official" part of the system of reference, which means that it should be either a State institution, or a non-State but State-recognised one, or accredited, depending on the rules of the education system concerned;

* the cycle/level and nature (academic/professional) of the foreign qualification within the system of reference;

* the academic rights that the foreign qualification grants in the awarding country.


Fair recognition is possible on the basis of adequate information to be provided by applicants themselves and/or collected from additional sources. Italian HEIs generally ask applicants to produce the so-called Dichiarazione di Valore-DV issued by the competent Italian diplomatic authorities in the country of the education system of reference [[1]]; some ask for legalised documents (Aja Apostille), some accept certified photocopies without Apostille, quite a number ask for sworn translations of official documents written in any language other than Italian. EU nationals whose study documents have already been deposited at an Italian public administration may autocertify their qualifications.


a) Finalised recognition

It consists in a global evaluation of the foreign qualification concerned in terms of level and nature to decide whether it is COMPARABLE or not to the Italian degree required for that specific purpose (e.g. admission to a research doctorate programme).

Recognition procedure may give the following results:

- the foreign qualification is found to be COMPARABLE to the Italian one: recognition is granted to the end of admission to the chosen degree course;

- the foreign qualification is evaluated as NOT COMPARABLE to the Italian one; then

°° recognition is refused;

°° a conditional recognition is proposed; i.e. very few universities allow provisional admission to the chosen degree course; at the same time they ask the candidate for some sort of compensation measure (debito formativo); if the candidate satisfies the educational debt in the prescribed time, recognition is confirmed; if not, admission is withdrawn.

* Some universities have observed that, given to the ongoing reforms in the H.Ed. systems of several European countries, and to scarcity of consistent reliable information from some non-European systems, to identify a clear comparison is sometimes impossibile; their final decision is questionable, and therefore exposed to the risk of contestation.

b) Recognition by equivalence

In addition to defining its comparability, academic authorities engage themselves in a detailed analysis of the foreign qualification (curricular structure, workload or course length, content of single subjects, etc.) so as to find out to what extent it is EQUIVALENT to the Italian degree chosen by the applicant. Universities ask for integrations whenever they find substantial differences; in fact, since Italian curricula are designed and approved in conformity to clearly defined national and institutional regulations, it becomes necessary to make the foreign qualification comply with those national requirements that guarantee the legal validity of the chosen Italian one. Therefore the Italian degree is generally awarded after the passing of some subject exams, the number of which depends on the degree of similarity between the foreign and the Italian qualifications concerned; the defence of a dissertation may also be necessary.

* Some universities have remarked that, when analysing a foreign qualification in details, it frequently occurs to find substantial differences, especially if it was awarded by an education system rooted in very different cultural traditions.

* Recognition by equivalence is still necessary to the holders of non-EU academic qualifications who want to enter a regulated profession, or the civil service [[2]].


§ Actions taken in 2003-06

Both Law 148/2002 and Ministerial Decree 509/1999 entrusted Italian universities with a greater autonomy in the evaluation of foreign qualifications; as a consequence, universities needed some training on the implications of institutional autonomy in relation to academic recognition, as well as on the principles and criteria of the two above legal provisions innovating the old legislation in the field.

* 2003 - On Miur’s request, in January 2003 Cimea organised a national course devised to provide academics and administrative staffs at all universities with the necessary basic training on the new legislation. The LRC principles were illustrated along with the Recommendation on Criteria and Procedures for the Assessment of Foreign Qualifications and Periods of Study, and Art. 6 of the DM 509/1999. Possible recognition cases were discussed and general criteria suggested. As a result, participant universities decided to set up two working groups, coordinated by Bologna and Padua universities, with the purpose of elaborating proposals for common guidelines to be adopted by individual universities when drawing up their institutional regulations on academic recognition.

* 2003-04 -  The two working groups met several times, requesting Cimea’s participation and contributions. In the end:

- the group coordinated by Bologna State University produced guidelines for the recognition of foreign H.Ed. qualifications taking into account the above quoted Recommendation;

- the group coordinated by Padua State University revised the ministerial Note on the admission to Italian universities of candidates holding foreign school leaving diplomas.

* 2005 - Miur and Cimea thought it convenient to make also the Italian non-university sector aware of the LRC and related Recommendation. Therefore, Cimea organised four training courses open to directors and teachers of all Afam institutions.

* 2006 - Against request of individual universities, Cimea has organised a few local training courses on specific recognition cases and problems.


§ Actions envisaged for 2007



Cimea has planned to give more training courses on academic recognition at individual institutions in order to stimulate:

- those universities that have adopted a few common guidelines (see working groups) to implement the newly defined criteria and procedures in their daily recognition praxis;

- those universities that still stick to old procedures to consider the guidelines as a useful reference tool for a prompt drawing up of their recognition provisions to be implemented at a fast pace.

Training courses will focus on:

- definining the section of single foreign curricula to be analysed in case of recognition by equivalence;

- discussion on cases of substantial differences (if already available, taking into account the outcomes of the ad hoc working group established by the Enic-Naric network in 2005);

- discussion on questionable comparability cases, proposals of possible decisions and related motivations;

- recommending the regular use of several information sources on foreign education systems, HEIs and their qualifications in addition/alternative to Italian diplomatic authorities abroad;

- recommending the semplification of documentation (e.g. accept documents in such languages as English, French, Latin, Spanish, etc.; accept certified fotocopies; limit the request for the Aja Apostille only to doubtful cases, etc.).


CRUI, the national body responsible for coordinating university institutional autonomy, has been invited to monitor, by means of adeguate initiatives:

- the drawing up of institutional regulations with special reference to academic recognition and the application of the LRC;

- single university practices in academic recognition matters.





Joint and double/multiple degrees are very popular in Italy chiefly due to the two following facts that have considerably contributed to create a favourable attitude towards their setting up and recognition:

a) in the period 1999-2006 the Ministry of University and Research has launched three subsequent plans to promote the internationalisation of the H.Ed. system; among other provisions, the plans included the co-financing of university projects aimed at setting up integrated curricula for the award of joint or double/multiple qualifications;

b) the implementation of the Erasmus Mundus Programme has considerably stimulated Italian HEIs to further develop their international cooperation agreements with special reference to integrated curricula and double/multiple and joint degrees.


Our national legislation allows Italian HEIs to award joint degrees, in the hope that they may be eligible for recognition worldwide or, at least in the EHEA.  Consequently, Italian HEIs are open to apply the LRC and the Recommendation on the Recognition of Joint Degrees to joint degrees awarded by foreign HEIs.


When one or more Italian universities are involved in designing, setting up an integrated degree course, and awarding the related joint degree, there is no need for legal recognition in Italy.  In fact the national legislation delegates the procedures for the award of joint qualifications to the general academic regulations of individual universities (DM 509/1999, Article 11, paragraph 7, subparagraph o) which however have to clearly state the Italian degree typology to which the joint qualification concerned pertains.


Joint qualifications awarded by foreign HEIs may be recognised in Italy, provided the following conditions are met in each case:

°° the partner institutions are “recognised” by the respective H.Ed. systems;

°° the design, setting up, and management of the integrated course are regulated in a specific interuniversity agreement including a clause which determines the validity/recognition of the joint qualification within the respective H. Ed. systems of all partner HEIs, or at least of those awarding the joint qualification concerned to a specific person;

°° the Italian H.Ed. system offers a degree comparable in level and nature;

°° limitedly to Doctorates, the joint degree must have been awarded after a minimum of 3 years.




As already hinted at page 4 (see MONITORING), CRUI seems the right national body to assume monitoring functions in the field of academic recognition, keep informed the Ministry of University and Research as well as other stakeholders, suggest measures for improvement.

Cimea has suggested as convenient and advisable that in 2007 Crui organises a national meeting on institutional recognition practices within the framework of the Bologna Process.





* 1999 - DM 509/99 marked the first step in the direction of prior learning validation within university degree programmes. The quoted decree, while defining the reform of the whole university system in conformity to the Bologna Declaration, also provided for the adoption of a national credit system compatible with the Ects, and for the possibility to validate prior learning through credit-transfer. As stated under Art. 5, paragraph 7, universities may recognise documented professional knowledge and skills, as well as knowledge and skills acquired in post-secondary professionally-oriented educational activities, by translating them into university credits according to pre-determined criteria (see the following webpage for the text of the decree: and go to Art. 5, paragraph 7). It means that individual universities, according to their institutional autonomy, have to determine the criteria for such operations in their own university teaching regulations (RDA = Regolamento Didattico di Ateneo).

* 2004 - The above possibility was confirmed by DM 270/04, which under Art. 5, paragraph 7, makes use of exactly the same wording as in DM 509/99 (file:///CORSO%20UniPD/Doc%20x%20Corso%20PD/Allegati%20(Un.PD)/All.1_DM%20270.html).


* 2000-2006 - Contacts of Cimea with individual universities aimed to learn institutional trends, and to promote initiatives, as well as cooperation within the Italian and the international content.

* 2006 - A national meeting was organised at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan on the joint initiative of Cimea, the Bologna promoters, Eaie and Eucen; its chief purpose was to analyse the different procedures so far adopted in this respect by individual Italian universities, and to compare them to the models of other European countries such as England, France, and Scotland.


* 2000-2006 - No national guidelines nor any procedures locally decided by individual institutions were produced for the validation of prior learning with a view to access to H.Ed.  Instead, as concerns the validation of informal /non-formal learning within their degree courses, Italian universities have so far adopted two main modalities:

a) case by case evaluation and assessment; e.g. universities have accepted:

- certificates and diplomas of competence in foreign languages in substitution of subject exams in foreign languages;

- the European Computer Driving License (ECDL) to allocate credits in substitution of exams in computer practice;

- certificates concerning professional activities in substitution of practical training periods which are a compulsory curricular requirement of certain degree courses;

- credits from post-secondary non-university technical courses (Ifts) so as to grant a reduction in length of related Laurea degree programmes;

b) drawing up of agreements with professional associations; a professional organisation may set up education and training activities for a whole professional category; each agreement (Convenzione) between a university and a professional association is devised to define the conditions for the allocation of university credits to those professionals who have attended courses and passed the related exams organised by the association concerned for their requalification and/or progress in the respective careers.


* 2006 - After monitoring the experiences carried out so far, Miur has decided it appropriate to indicate the following two limits: Italian universities may validate informal /non-formal learning by allocating:

- a maximum of 60 credits within a Laurea degree course (1st cycle degree of the Bologna process);

- and a maximum of 40 credits within a Laurea Specialistica degree course (2nd cycle degree of the Bologna process).





Since the 1999 H..Ed. reform, Italy has adopted a national credit system for the structuring of degree courses both in the university and in the Afam sector. Here are the related legal provisions:

- Art. 5 of the Ministerial Decree 509/1999 and of the Ministerial Decree 270/2004, both referring to university credits (CFU = Crediti Formativi Universitari);

- Art. 6 of the Presidential Decree No. 212 of 8th July 2005, which describes the credit system adopted by Afam institutions (CFA = Crediti Formativi Accademici) (see

Despite the two different acronyms (CFU and CFA), the Italian credit system is the same in both H.Ed. sectors; modelled on the ECTS, it has the following main characteristics:

- it is a student-centred system measuring the student’s workload;

- 1 credit corresponds to 25-30 hours of student workload, including time for personal study;

- 1 academic year corresponds to 60 credits;

- credits are earned by students only by passing the exams of single subject courses.

The above mentioned decrees also determine the global number of credits to be earned for the awarding of the main degrees within the three H. Ed. cycles. In conformity to the national legislation, all degree courses currently in offer at Italian HEIs (universities and Afam institutions) are structured in Ects, with the only exception of research doctorate programmes; whether to design them in credits or not is a matter left to the autonomous decision of individual HEIs.


* 2002-03 - a national committee, made up of directors responsible for the administrative and technical offices of Italian universities, developed a project aimed at implementing the DS throughout the country; it included:

- the creation of a website giving general explanations and legal details (the site is presently being updated; see; and;

- an official translation into English of the relevant university terminology;

- the drawing up of a brief standardised description of the new university system, in English and Italian, as well as of its scheme and diagram (see

* 2004 - As a further step, Art. 6 of Ministerial Decree No. 9 of 30th April 2004 decided for the adoption of a national DS model. The Italian DS corresponds to the EU/CoE/Unesco Diploma Supplement format (for the text of the decree and the attached DS model go to Miur webpage Universities were requested to issue the DS in conjunction with the transfer of all their students’data into the national database called students’ register service (Anagrafe degli Studenti); they were therefore expected to start issueing the DS in 2005.

* 2005 - The transferring of students’ data was more complex and time-consuming than expected; only very few universities were able to issue a DS in the prescribed time.

* 2006 - Universities have been urged by Miur to complete all technical operations related to the national student database.and the issueing of the DS.

* 2007 - Universities have to issue a Diploma Supplement, along with the respective degree, to each student completing all legal requirements towards a Laurea or a Laurea Specialistica/Magistrale. The Italian DS is to be issued:

°° in a bilingual version (English and Italian);

°° free of charge;

°° automatically, on the awarding of a 1st or 2nd cycle degree of the Bologna reform.



As concerns other tools to promote transparency, a national plan exists within Europass-Italia.





Taking into account the sentence concerning the case Valentina NERI-ESE (European School of Economics)  issued by the European Court of Justice on 13November 2003 (proceeding C-153/02;, as well as Art. 4 of Law 148/02, Art. VI.5 of the LRC, and in conformity to the Code of Good Practice in the Provision of TNE, Italy has approved specific regulations on TNE HEIs based within its national borders.

The Ministerial Decree No. 214 of 26th April 2004 determines that the recognition of H.Ed. qualifications awarded by HEIs pertaining to the above mentioned category is possible only on condition that the single HEI concerned has previously be accredited by the Italian Ministry of University and Research (Miur). Once checked the ministerial accreditation, the Italian university concerned may start the recognition procedure by applying the LRC and the criteria of the quoted Code of Good Practice.

So far none of the TNE HEIs based in Italy which applied for accreditation has yet completed the process.



In case of TNE qualifications awarded outside Italy, universities have adopted as a basic criterion for eligibility to recognition that the awarding HEI be recognised/accredited both by the H.Ed. system of reference and that of the host country. Only under certain circumstances Italian universities are willing to recognise a TNE degree awarded by a HEI which enjoys the proper legal status of the H.Ed. system of just one of the two countries concerned.




Cimea, the Italian Enic-Naric, has established and mantains its own web pages, linked to the Enic-Naric website (go to, in the Italian version, and to in the English one).




A) Information on the new system of academic recognition was published in early January 2006 on Cimea website at page

B) The full updating of the English version of Cimea web pages on recognition is envisaged within 2007; the sections concerning admission to university degree courses of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd cycle are already available online both in English and Spanish, at, and at, respectively.

C) In 2005 Cimea edited a guide to the recognition of Italian qualifications abroad. Among other pieces of information, the booklet also quotes the LRC along with the Enic and Naric networks ( and includes contributions from three Narics (Austria, France and Spain., Published by the national resource centre for guidance and distributed free of charge in Italy, the guide may be downloaded from; however, Cimea intends to hand it out during some next international meetings.





Information from primary to higher education (university and non-university) is available in English at:


and at




Information is available at:

- (2004; English)

- (2005; Chinese),

- (2006; Spanish)

The three websites were created in different years, but have been all updated to June 2006.







The competent Italian Ministry (Miur) has entrusted the role of national information centre with Cimea, a section of the Fondazione Rui. The Fondazione is a private entity legally recognised as a non-profit body by Presidential Decree No. 932 of 16th September 1959.

The information that is requested by Art. VIII.2 of the Lisbon Convention has been made available on Cimea website (; all documents may be downloaded).


Cimea has no decision-making powers; its main tasks consist in:

- providing information on recognition legislation and procedures (academic, professional de jure, professional de facto);

- providing information on the Italian education system, with special reference to higher education;

- providing advice on recognition matters and/or specific recognition cases; Cimea’s advice is reserved for MIUR, foreign and Italian HEIs, foreign and Italian public administrations, international organisations, public and private companies, foreign and Italian employers, etc.

- editing information materials on recognition and on the Italian H. Ed. education system (guides, booklets, leaflets, websites, etc.).


Cimea, whose staff consists of two full-time and two part-time persons, operates on the basis of an agreement with MIUR, from which it receives an annual budget of about Euros 230,000.00.


In the first semester of 2006 Cimea answered 7,774 inquiries.  59% of clients were single citizens, 41% representatives of such public or private bodies as HEIs, ministries, public administrations, employers, both foreign and Italian.  As to nationality, 44% applicants were Italian citizens, 43% European nationals from both EU and non-EU countries, 13% from overseas (1% from Africa, 2% from Asia, 1% Australia, 3% North America, 5% Latin America). Information and advice were provided either by phone (41%) or e-mail (55%), fax and surface mail (2%), interviews (2%).


At national level Cimea cooperates with the Italian ministries in charge with de jure professional recognition, with professional councils, and such organisations as chambers of commerce, trade unions, etc., regional authorities competent for education and training, Crui, HEIs, other public authorities in charge with finalised academic recognition.

As to international networking and cooperation, Cimea is a member of the Enic, Naric and Meric networks. It also cooperates with AEC, EAIE, EURES, FEDORA, ECSTA, FEANI, as well as with foreign organisations like Education International, NAFSA, NIAF, and WES in the USA, BBT (CH), DAAD (DE), the British Council (UK), foreign Embassies and Consulates, etc.




Since CNVSU, the Italian QA agency, is entrustued with the accreditation of Italian HEIs and their degree courses, the Cimea relies on its cooperation to receive regularly updated information on that matter. Cnvsu also provides Cimea with relevant details on non-recognised and bogus institutions in Italy.

In its turn Cimea, thanks to its cooperation with the Enic-Naric network, provides Cnvsu with information on the legal status of foreign HEIs, both those located abroad and those operating in Italy.

Since 2000 Cimea and CNVSU have actively cooperated in a few specific projects; e.g.:

- to establish and maintain the national database recording all degree courses in offer at Italian universities (;

- to draw up and regularly update the Italian chapter within the Eurostudent project within the Framework of the Bologna Declaration (survey on H.Ed. students’ study and life conditions in Europe);

- to exchange information on the respective fields of competence with partner bodies in Europe.






































Rome, 30 November 2006

[[1]] The DV is a document issued by competent Italian Consulates/Embassies abroad (i.e. in the awarding countries); it provides useful information on the authenticity and the main characteristics of the single qualifications concerned.


[[2]] EU holders of EU degrees may take advantage of a simplified procedure (finalised academic recognition as provided for by Art. 38 of legislative degree 165/2001).