students for centuries but in recent years Italy’s leading universities have begun to offer a variety of subject specialised masters and PhD programmes, many of which are taught in the English language and benefit from a government system of quality control and accreditation.
What makes Italian graduate programmes particularly interesting for international students is an innovation by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, with the cooperation of the Italian Chambers of Commerce and the Institute of Foreign Trade - ICE . The "Invest Your Talent in Italy (bold)" initiative, launched in 2006, is the latest example of how Italian universities are seeking to secure the best international students to attend their top institutions and benefit from what is widely considered as one of Europe's leading systems of education and one of the most  challenging business environment.
The "Invest Your Talent in Italy" initiative adds a significant element to many other international government efforts to attract more students by placing the opportunity to gain work experience and access to the Italian labour market at the heart of the scheme. Mauro Battocchi, Head of Office for Internationalisation of SMEs at General Directorate for Economic Cooperation at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, believes this to be extremely beneficial for prospective international students, "We make a considerable effort to introduce international talents into our industry and commerce".
Each course includes a three to six month period of on-the-job training allowing students to gain hands-on familiarity with the Italian business culture. Focusing on recruiting international graduate students, "Invest Your Talent in Italy" offers students the opportunity to access specialised Italian degrees, especially in the fields of  Engineering/High Technology (ICT included), Economy/Management and Architecture/Design but also in other scientific areas. Admission to Italy's graduate programmes for international students is dependent on their performance at the first-degree level. Each institution is responsible for establishing their own entry requirements, but may take into account such factors as work experience, academic specialization and performance in admissions examinations, depending on the subject area applied to.
Where graduate programmes are offered in English, it is routine for Italian institutions to also require a satisfactory performance in an IELTS or TOEFL examination. Twelve Italian institutions are involved in the initiative, offering a range of graduate programmes, all of which are taught in English. Institutions from Milan, Turin, Trento, Rome, Pisa, Genoa, Macerata and Bologna are involved and include: Politecnico of Milan, Bocconi University, Istituto Marangoni, Cattolica del Sacro Cuore University (the 4 in Milan),  LUISS - Free International University of Social Studies and "Tor Vergata" University (both in Rome), Politecnico of Turin, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Trento University, Genoa University and Macerata University.
New universities will join soon the initiative such as Salerno University: Professor Paolo Ciambelli, a specialist in chemical engineering at this University believes "Invest Your Talent in Italy" has come at exactly the right time, "We are at the starting steps of the internationalization of our academic programs but we are following our current experience of receiving exchange students and international professors and researchers." With four new international PhD being launched at Salerno University, including programmes in Information Systems and Software Engineering and Nanonscience and Nanotechnology, Professor Ciambelli is certain that students will find the programmes very attractive, "all four of the new PhD degrees will offer scholarships to attract students of the highest quality." In management education, an area that captures more than 40% of all international student's interest, the "Invest Your Talent in Italy" initiative offers master of science degrees in the fields of study where Italy has particular expertise.
Participating institutions offer such degrees as international management (Bocconi University), European economy and business law (Rome "Tor Vergata" University), planning and management of logistic and transportation systems (Genova University), general management (LUISS - Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali, Rome) and industrial engineering and management (Politecnico of Turin) to those students wishing to benefit from the close links these institutions have with their local industries. Christiane Roth from Bocconi University in Milan believes that the "Invest Your Talent in Italy" initiative is particularly relevant for graduate programmes in management: "many students have strong technical backgrounds which is a good preparation for our management studies. Additionally, there is a growing interest amongst Italian companies to recruit highly qualified international managers to support their business interests and investments in their home countries".
The "Invest Your Talent in Italy" initiative also targets two academic areas that Italy is well known for: ICT and design. Italy's enviable international reputation for design is reflected in the graduate programmes of some of the institutions involved in the initiative. Synonymous with Italy, the international nature of the design industry whether it is the world of fashion, architecture, urban planning or product design makes Italy the first choice for these kinds of programmes. Five masters degrees are offered by the Politecnico of Milan in this area, including retail and store design and urban planning and policy design. In the field of ICT, the specialties offered by these institutions in their graduate degrees cover many of the key developments in this most dynamic of industrial sectors. From the masters degree in robotics to the programmes in information and communication technologies, Indian students are sure to find an academic area of interest relevant to their personal and career ambitions.
Scholarships and financial aid are key issues for all international students and can often make the difference between being able to study abroad or not. Not only do tuition fees have to be taken into account, but accommodation, living and entertainment costs, in addition to those of equipment relevant to your degree. Tuition fees in Italian universities tend to be lower than in many other parts of Europe and the cost of living, even in the larger towns and cities, is more economical than in France and the UK. Under the auspices of the Invest Your Talent in Italy initiative: 81 dedicated scholarships are offered to attract the best quality students to Italy for their graduate degrees.
Additionally, individual institutions are granting their own scholarships for Indian and Turkish students in order to make their programs as affordable as possible. Mariasilvia Ciola, Head of the International Relations Office at LUISS (Rome) underlines the importance of the investment: "LUISS provides over 350 grants for highly talented students and five specific grants for Indian students, supported by companies in our region. We believe that by recruiting the best international students we will raise our own standards and benefit the experiences of other students".
The close relationship between the graduate programmes offered as part of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' initiative and the on-the-job training offered by the local companies involved in the scheme presents an excellent opportunity for many international students. Italy's diversified industrial economy has roughly the same total and per capita output as France and the UK and the "Invest Your Talent in Italy" offers the perfect route to students wanting to take a step into Italy's industrial districts. All masters programs in the initiative are divided into three phases, the first two being classroom-based while the third includes the more direct experience of working in an Italian company.
The development of a student's academic skills are brought into direct relevance to the work environment by allowing international students the opportunity to work under the guidance of an academic tutor appointed by a host company, allowing hands-on experience of the way Made-in-Italy products and services are created. With support by Chambers of Commerce throughout the country, international students are provided with unprecedented support in gaining access to employment skills throughout Italy. Professor Ernesto Tavoletti from the Macerata University echoes the importance of the relationship between academic programs and real-world experience. He sees one of the most attractive features of the masters programmes his university offers to international students as "the very strong links we have developed with companies exporting goods and services, particularly to the Asian region.
Coupled with this is the high employability of our international graduates in a university that enjoys a long tradition and reputation located in a typical Italian landscape". Prof. Carla Locatelli, Pro-rector for International Relations of Trento University, affirms that "Internationalization is a structural feature of our university and students can benefit from a multicultural environment. The Trento University  is a research comprehensive institution, dynamic and student-centered". The quality of the teaching is very high, from undergraduate to post-PhD level, and the facilities are modern and up-to-date.
Research is top world quality in many fields, such as ICT, engineering, physics, international studies, transnational law, experimental economics, biotechnologies and social studies.The "Invest Your Talent in Italy" initiative represents an excellent opportunity for international students to benefit from one of the most established yet modern higher education systems in Europe. With innovative academic programmes in key areas of industry, offered in combination with structured periods of work experience and project management, the development of specific skills relevant to success in the international labour market will ensure that graduates will make an impact in the field of their choice. For more details of graduate programmes and other study opportunities in Italy, the "Invest Your Talent in Italy" initiative website at provides information for all international students and scholarships for Indian and Turkish students.