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4 things you need to know about studying abroad in Italy

By Stephanie L

Updated June 2, 2021 Updated June 2, 2021

Sponsored by Università degli Studi di Pavia

Italy is one of the most popular study abroad destinations in Europe and it’s not hard to see why. It is a fantastic opportunity to experience a new culture, tasty local foods, picture-perfect landscapes, great culture spots and of course, an exceptional education.

TopUniversities spoke to Laura, a master’s graduate from Università degli Studi di Pavia to find out the need-to-knows when it comes to studying abroad in Italy.

Universities and degree programmes

Italy is home to some of the world’s oldest and most respected universities. In the QS World University Rankings 2021 40 Italian universities featured, of which 11 made it into the world’s top 500.

Italy is highly regarded for its academic excellence in a wide range of subjects, including art, design, architecture and applied sciences, from bachelor’s level all the way to doctorate. Keep in mind, some universities specialise in certain subjects, while other universities offer a wider variety of subjects.

Most programmes offered are taught in Italian, but in a bid to attract more international students, the number of English-taught programmes is increasing. For example Università degli Studi di Pavia in northern Italy offers 12 English-taught master’s programmes, including a new joint Bachelor of Science in Artificial Intelligence with the University of Milano Statale and the University Milano Bicocca.

However, that’s not to say you can get by without knowing some Italian. You never know when you might need it, so it won’t hurt to at least learn the basics.

Tuition fees and funding opportunities

Most Italian universities are publicly funded which means tuition fees can vary widely depending on the university and degree programme. According to Italian government guidelines, the average tuition fees are between £800 and £3,450 per year at public universities in Italy. Private universities will be more expensive.

Graduate Laura is from a Brazilian family with strong Italian roots. She says being able to study Italy was an opportunity for her to go back to her roots and really get to know and understand Italian culture. But it was also being able to study a high-quality degree at an affordable cost that clinched it for her.

She said: “I could have chosen any other EU member state to study in. I felt that Italy and, more specifically Pavia, would allow me to obtain a prestigious degree with incredibly limited financial costs, and that was what ultimately closed the deal for me.”

At Università degli Studi di Pavia, fees for EU and non-EU students generally range from £140 to £4,100 per academic year and are based on your family’s household income and the degree you apply to.

When it comes to scholarships, international students are eligible for the same scholarships and grants as local students. Each year the Italian government agency, EDiSU, announces the scholarships available. These scholarships may be financial-based or service-based, including free meals, fee waivers, and housing assistance at an EDiSU college.

And there’s more: some universities such as Università degli Studi di Pavia offer tuition fee waivers. The Università degli Studi di Paviai is awarding 100 tuition fees waivers to international students who enrol in a degree programme for the 2021/2022 academic intake.


Compared to other popular study abroad destinations in Europe such as the UK, France and Spain, Italy is a much more budget-friendly study destination.

While the cost of living and accommodation can be higher in larger and more popular cities like Milan or Rome, smaller cities such as Pavia tend to be more affordable. Depending on the area you choose to live and the type of accommodation, you should expect to pay anywhere between £215 and £515 per month. Keep in mind your monthly utility bills as well, such as water, gas and electricity.

Larger universities usually offer support in finding accommodation too. At Università degli Studi di Pavia there are 20 student residences which house around 2,000 students. For many students who live in one of these residences, it’s a unique opportunity to live in a close student community and get involved with various activities and events.

“Living in a student residence—the so-called collegio —was key in allowing me easily feel and effectively become part of the local community, which was truly amazing,” said Laura.

Lifestyle and culture

Studying abroad in Italy means experiencing more than just academic life.

Università degli Studi di Pavia is home to a buzzing student population, making it feel like home for the 1,200 students who move to the city of Pavia each year and share this once-in-a-lifetime study experience.

When it comes to life outside of campus, there’s plenty to explore and experience too. But where do you start?

Many cultural activities and events are bookmarked in the Italian calendar, from local traditional festivals to major international sporting events. Italian nightlife is always vibrant and lively, but if you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, live like the locals and head to the coast or countryside.

Laura considers studying abroad to be an exciting and challenging, life-changing opportunity – and for prospective students who may be looking for similar opportunities, she offers some parting words of wisdom. 

She said: “Research and planning! I realise this is a piece of very mainstream advice since it constitutes an essential step even for someone who is beginning their studies in their own country. However, the more prepared you are, the less worried you’ll be, and your experience will flow much more nicely, I am sure of it.”

Lead image credit: Università degli Studi di Pavia

This article was originally published in June 2021 .

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Written by

As the Head of Sponsored Content for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com (until September 2021), Stephanie created and published a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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