The freedom of teaching which the Casati law had informed the university system instead of strengthening in practice and custom gradually disappeared and not only as a result of improvised laws. And since with the decline of that freedom the decay of the Italian university was felt, parliament and government worked around various bills concerning the didactic and administrative autonomy of the university. None of those designs resulted in a provision and the complained inconveniences worsened. Too many students, too many universities, too easy to access. Reduce the number of universities or at least, if one does not want to or could oppose cities jealous of the ancient and often glorious traditions of their higher institutes, to concentrate the care and means of the government on the most important universities; ascertain with greater rigor than in the past the maturity of those who want to be admitted; make teaching more effective, more alive; obliging the student to study more intensely and at the same time recognizing the right to see with his own eyes and to think with his own mind; to give him the material means if he is poor, to grant him the possibility of perfecting himself in his studies if he is endowed with singular qualities; and finally, by removing the value of a professional qualification from the degree, removing the pernicious influence of career requirements from the teaching of the professor and the preparation of the student. All this was carried out in 1923 by Minister Gentile (r. Decr. September 30, 1923, n. 2102) within the limits within which these concepts can be translated into law.
The number of royal universities was raised to 21 (the free university of Perugia having been registered, the institute of higher studies of Florence and the clinical institutes of specialization in Milan transformed into a university, and the university of Bari was founded) of which moreover, only 10 (Bologna, Cagliari, Genoa, Naples, Padua, Palermo, Pavia, Pisa, Rome and Turin) were fully charged to the state budget. The higher engineering institutes were reorganized (constituting a three-year course of application studies that follow a two-year course of preparatory studies ordered at the faculties of mathematical sciences) and the higher institutes were created at a later time. of architecture, of which only one (that of Rome) is borne by the state; finally, the higher institutes of economic and commercial sciences were coordinated with the universities. Minor modifications were introduced in the organization of the agricultural colleges and those of veterinary medicine.
Overall, the following higher institutes are paid by the state, in addition to the 10 universities: 6 of engineering, 1 of architecture, 6 of agriculture and 8 of veterinary medicine. On the other hand, 11 universities and the following higher institutes are maintained through agreements between the state and other bodies: 3 of engineering, 1 of industrial chemistry, 4 of architecture, 1 of veterinary medicine and 9 of economic and commercial sciences.
The higher education institutes (3 regi and 3 equalized) also have a university degree and legal personality, where those with a master’s qualification can obtain a diploma in literary subjects, or in philosophy and pedagogy (having the exclusive value of academic qualifications). or qualification to supervise in elementary schools. Furthermore, 5 higher institutes with special organization should be mentioned here: the oriental institute of Naples (see Naples), for the teaching of the languages of the peoples of Asia and Africa and of colonial disciplines; the naval institute of Naples, which prepares for the exercise of the profession and offices relating to the maritime industry and trade; the normal high school of Pisa, which prepares for teaching in middle schools by welcoming 100 boarding school pupils per free place; the Fascist Academy of Physical and Youth Education in Rome (see balilla); and the University for Foreigners in Perugia which organizes special literature and culture courses for foreigners.
The government of universities and colleges belongs to the rector of universities, and to the director of colleges, the academic senate, the board of directors, deans and councils of faculties and schools. Rectors, directors and principals are appointed by the minister; the academic senate (which is only for universities) is composed of the rector and deans, the board of directors (of universities and higher institutes dependent on the state) is composed of the rector or director, 2 professors designated by the faculties and schools, two government representatives; the faculty councils of all professors, tenured, of the same.
Not all universities include the same number of faculties: the major ones, like Rome, have 5: law; medicine and Surgery; philosophy and literature; Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences; political sciences, as well as a certain number of schools determined, university by university, by the respective statute which is the internal and didactic organization that each university has the power to give itself. Anyone who has passed the number of exams prescribed by the statute obtains a degree or diploma.
But to grasp the true essence of the present system of higher education it is necessary to dwell on the various characteristic aspects of what was the real guiding principle of the legislative decree of 1923:
- Free universities. – It is possible to open any university or private school with rights equal to those of the state as regards the academic degrees and the legal value of these. Furthermore, the professors of these are allowed to be transferred to the royal universities. As a result of these provisions, in addition to the old free universities of Camerino, Ferrara, Urbino and the institute of teaching in Naples, the University of the Sacred Heart and the “Maria Immacolata” higher education institute, and in Turin the higher education institute of Piedmont.
- Administrative autonomy. – Each university or higher institute (without prejudice to the faculty of inspection by the Ministry) distributes, as it sees fit, the income from its budget which is made up of property revenues, contributions from the state (or the state and local authorities) and taxes school fees and surcharges.
- Didactic freedom, which has the maximum expression in the right recognized to each university or higher institute to dictate a statute. This didactic freedom is not only the freedom to teach, each professor in his own way according to his doctrines and his scientific convictions, “but the faculty in each institute to organize his own teachings all together. Freedom not only to combine various teaching subjects in various ways for different purposes but, first of all, to establish and define which subjects should be and which is the best way to teach them and to ascertain the achievement of young people, and also freedom of choice of professors “.
- Free teaching. – With regard to this institute, it has been established: a ) that the qualification for free teaching is normally acquired only through a competition based on qualifications supplemented by a conference on the qualifications themselves and, possibly, by experimental tests and is subject to the confirmation of the faculty or school, and is lost if after five years of effective exercise it is not confirmed or if it has not been practiced for five consecutive years, b ) that professors of the subject or related subject are preferably entrusted with the tasks of official teaching when the latter does not want or can prepose a holder.
- State exams. – Since the degree and the diploma awarded by the university or higher institute have the exclusive value of an academic qualification, the graduate who wants to practice any profession must undergo a special state exam. For each profession, the state exams are announced annually on an official program by the Ministry of National Education; those for the legal professions from the Ministry of Grace and Justice. For the qualification to exercise the profession of middle school teacher, the eligibility obtained in the competition exams periodically announced by the Ministry of National Education in order to cover the vacant chairs in the royal middle schools is valid.
Student assistance is exercised through two existing institutions at each university or higher institution: the school fund and the opera, the latter with legal personality. The school fund to which 10% of the taxes paid by students is donated (in addition to donations from institutions and individuals), provides with these funds to provide young people with disadvantaged economic conditions and more deserving, the means to cope in whole or in part to the payment of taxes, surcharges and contributions. The work, on the other hand, has the broader task of promoting, implementing and coordinating the various forms of material, moral and scholastic assistance (student home, university canteen, etc.) and first of all organizing a health office. The work is due a tax (of L. 250) which each graduate or high school graduate must pay when taking the qualifying examination to practice the profession.
Finally, on the budget of the Ministry, Italian and foreign students can be granted annual grants to follow courses or carry out studies at universities, higher institutes or institutes of artistic education respectively of abroad or of the kingdom; and in favor of graduates and graduates, competitions are open annually for postgraduate scholarships at Italian or foreign universities or colleges.