A group of foreign students at school Photo EPA/Archive
A group of foreign students at school Photo EPA/Archive

Foreign students in Italy make up just under 10% of the total student population, with 61% of these students born in Italy, according to the latest figure from the Italian Education Ministry. It said there are 826,000 foreign students in Italian public schools, comprising 9.4% of the total student population, which is 11,000 more students than the previous year.

There are slightly more male students (52%) than female students (48%), and 61% of all foreign students were born in Italy. Italian-born foreign students, who make up the so-called second generation, have grown 35.4% in the last five years. In the past year, growth reached 24,000 students, up 5.1%. Italian-born foreign students make up 85% of foreign students in nursery school, 73.4% of those in primary school, 53.2% in middle school, and 27% in high school. The high school percentage is expected to grow in the coming years. 

Distribution by location and origin

 The northern region of Lombardy has the most non-Italian students (about 208,000), about one-fourth of all foreign students in Italy. The lowest number is in the region of Campania. Ten countries are most represented among the students' nationalities: Romania (19.2%), Albania (13.6%), Morocco (12.4%), China (6%), the Phillipines (3.3%), India and Moldavia (3.1%), followed by Ukraine, Pakistan and Egypt (all at 2,4%). A total of 92.1% of foreign students passed their middle school exams and chose to continue their studies; of these, 83.2% chose a high school or a technical or professional institute, while 8.9% chose a regional professional training course. 

There are therefore 191,000 non-Italian students in Italian high schools, 7.1% of the total student population. Of the total number of those who graduated high school, 34% continued on to university, with 39.7% of those choosing majors in social services. Initiative to reflect on multicultural schools The Education Ministry said this year it will once again hold the conference "Building Bridges - Schools Open to the World", as part of the "continuous attention and efforts made by schools to integrate foreign young men and women". 

The conference, now in its fifth edition, will take place this year on April 5 and 6 in Florence, sponsored by the Alcide Cervi Institute, the Giorgio La Pira International Student Centre, and the Education Ministry. This year's theme is aimed at fostering reflection on the increasingly multicultural landscape of schools, in which class composition frequently includes students from different countries with different languages and religions. 

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