Is '3+2' Equal to 4? University Reform and Student Academic Performance in Italy
In 2001 a '3+2' (unitary two-tier) university system was introduced in Italy where a 3-year First Level degree followed by a 2-year Second Level degree replaced a one-tier system where the 'old' degree (Laurea) duration varied between a minimum of four (e.g. economics) and a maximum of six years. In this paper we use individual-level data on graduates from the Economics Faculty of the Marche Polytechnic University to investigate some effects of this reform. In particular, we seek an answer to questions such as: Did the reform induce a change in the behaviour of students and higher education institutions (e.g. course workload, grade inflation, etc.)? Did it produce a change in student academic performance (e.g. student progression, grades)? Although our paper features a case study and evidence from the Marche Polytechnic University, it cannot be straightforwardly generalised to the whole Italian University system. Our analysis is nonetheless informative given the general lack of evaluation of the '3+2' Italian university reform using micro-level data.
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