From opera at La Scala to football at the San Siro stadium, from the catwalks of fashion week to the soaring architecture of the cathedral, Milan is crowded with Italian icons.Which makes it even more of a cultural earthquake that one of Italy’s leading universities – the Politecnico di Milano – is going to switch to the English language.The university has announced that from 2014 most of its degree courses – including all its graduate courses – will be taught and assessed entirely in English rather than Italian.The waters of globalisation are rising around higher education – and the university believes that if it remains Italian-speaking it risks isolation and will be unable to compete as an international institution.
And this bit is even more interesting:
The need to attract overseas students and researchers, including from the UK and non-English speaking countries, is another important reason for switching to English as the primary language.
“We are very proud of our city and culture, but we acknowledge that the Italian language is an entry barrier for overseas students,” he says, particularly when recruiting from places such as China and India.
There’s much more to the article, which I recommend you read, but this is the kicker, for me:
Professor Azzone says there is a stark choice between becoming isolated and parochial or trying to compete with these academic superpowers – and he argues that this will require European universities to work together.
“We have to give a sense that we are not a dying country – but we are not large enough to have a critical mass. We need to have a European alliance of strong universities.”
(My emphasis.) But Italy is a dying country – that’s why they need foreign students. Italy’s reproduction rate has been declining for quite a while, and currently women in Italy bear 1.3 children each – way below the replacement level of 2.1. That’s the definition of a dying country.