Study in Italy: The Lowdown

Samuel Clennett

Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to live in Italy? Exquisite cuisine, a rich history, beautiful scenery and a pleasant climate make it an attractive place for many tourists and expats alike. Add to that the fact you could attend a top class university, and study in English for a lower price than many other international options, and what’s stopping you?

International students in Italy can attend any of hundreds of courses offered in English, across all levels, or brush up their Italian language skills and join a regular course instead. With some of the oldest universities in the world, and a proud history of quality teaching and learning, Italy is a great destination for students looking to spread their wings and explore.

This guide covers all the information you need to plan your studies in Italy. We’ll also touch on Wise as a smart way to reduce the costs of sending money overseas while you travel. Use Wise to pay for your rent and tuition fees, to limit international payment charges - and get yourself a multi-currency borderless account from Wise to make it easy to manage your money while you’re in Italy. More on that to come.

Studying in Italy

Italy has an impressive history of technological and cultural innovation, making it a great place to study. These days there are over 60 public universities, 30 private universities and a choice of public research programs and specialist schools. You’ll be able to take a course which is taught in English if your Italian isn’t up to scratch, as there are over 300 courses listed which have English as their primary language¹.

Tuition fees in Italian institutions are set according to the course. Some state run universities also take into account the student’s family background to make sure fees are affordable.

On average, fees in Italy are lower than those you might find elsewhere in Europe or North America. International students might pay as little as EUR1,000 a year for a public university place, with private university fees more expensive at EUR6,000 and upwards. There are a number of scholarships and grants available for international students which may bring down the costs².

The overall cost of living in Italy is reasonable compared to other European and North American study destinations. Rent in the larger cities is on the high side, but if you choose to live like a local you can keep costs down. One thing that’s worth noting is that the tourist destinations in Italy - and there are many - tend to have extremely high prices for food, drink and entertainment. International students would do well to learn a few words of Italian so they can avoid these tourist traps and head to places locals choose to eat, drink and enjoy themselves. You’ll probably find your chosen university offers Italian language classes, which means there’s no excuse to avoid learning the basics.

Study Visa

You’ll need the correct visa to study in Italy as an international student. There’s a helpful tool on the Italian government’s website which allows you to input data about how long you’ll stay in Italy and what type of course you’ll follow, to see which visa type you’ll need. You’ll also get details of the documents required and where you can apply³.

To give an example, if you’re applying for a university course and intend to stay long term in Italy, you’ll have to present documents including:

  • Valid passport and additional passport photos
  • Completed application form
  • Proof of your accommodation in Italy
  • Evidence you can pay for yourself during your stay in Italy
  • Details of your enrolment or pre-enrolment at an Italian university

As part of your application you will need to show you can access at least EUR448.52 per month of the academic year to cover the costs of your stay. You might show you have this amount saved, or have access to funding through a scholarship provided by a reputable institution.

Applications can be made in the embassy or consulate closest to your home in Australia, or in some cases via a VFS service centre. Get the details for your local area, online.

Cost of studying in Italy

Wherever you choose to study, there’s a cost involved. As an international student, it can be tricky to work out how the tuition fees and day to day living costs might compare with your options back home. Doing thorough research is crucial to make sure you have the right budget for your study course. Here are the main costs to look into when considering attending a university in Italy.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees in public universities are set according to the course type and level, and may be lower for students from low income families. Typically the more prestigious public universities charge more for their courses. Private university fees are higher again.

Here’s an overview of the costs you’ll need to know about⁴.

University typeIndicative prices
Public universityEUR900 - EUR4,000 per year Fees may take into account student’s family income
Private universityEUR6,000 - EUR20,000 per year

Living costs

Of course it’s not only the tuition fees you need to think about. You also need to pay for rent, food, travel and entertainment. Rent is one of the major expenses you’ll face, and this can vary widely according to the city in Italy you choose. If you plan on finding accommodation on the open market, you’ll want to check out the likely prices in a range of locations before you choose the right one for you.

A smart way to examine the costs of different cities in Italy is to use website Numbeo. Numbeo aggregates user information from cities around the world to build a picture of the costs of everyday items, and allows you to compare the cost of living in different cities. The data is dynamic and updates all the time, giving a live picture of prices.

Here are some example costs for different cities at the time of research⁵:

Expense typeIndicative cost
Rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in the city centre - RomeEUR990/month
Rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in the city centre - SienaEUR770/month
Monthly travel ticketEUR35
Macdonald’s mealEUR8
Cinema ticketEUR8

Universities in Italy

Italy is home to over 90 universities, and a broad range of specialist and postgraduate institutions. You’ll be able to live and study in a number of different Italian regions according to your preferences and the course you want to take. Choose from historic universities like Sapienza and UNIBO, which are among the oldest in the world - Sapienza, which is in the capital, Rome, is also the largest university in Europe at present.

30 Italian institutions rank among the world’s top universities, including:

  • Politecnico di Milano
  • Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa
  • Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna Pisa
  • Università di Bologna (UNIBO)
  • Sapienza - Università di Roma
  • Università di Padova
  • Università degli Studi di Milano

Cut the costs of studying abroad with Wise

If you’re headed to Italy for your studies, you’ll want to have as much money as possible to make the most of your time there. While some costs are inevitable - tuition fees and rents, for example - you’ll also face charges which can be limited or avoided, such as those involved in currency conversion and sending money overseas. If you are looking for a way to send money to Italy, Wise could be an option.

That’s where Wise can help. Use Wise when making international payments, to get currency conversion at the mid-market rate with no hidden fees. You’ll just pay a transparent charge which can work out 16x cheaper than using your normal bank.

You’ll also be able to make life simple when you’re abroad with the multi-currency borderless account from Wise. This smart new type of account lets you hold money in dozens of different currencies and switch between them when you want to.

All currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate, so you know you’re getting a good deal. Top up your account with dollars, and switch to euros for simple spending in Italy. It’s always free to spend currencies you hold in your account, using your linked debit Mastercard - which means you can avoid excessive international payment charges, too.

If you’re ready for an adventure, Italy is a perfect country to consider for your overseas studies. You’ll be able to further your education while learning about a new region, immersing yourself in Italy’s rich heritage and making great friends. Use the ideas in this guide to kickstart your research - and good luck!


  1. Study in Italy
  2. Tuition fees and Cost of living
  3. Visa Info
  4. Tuition Fees
  5. Cost of Living Comparison
  6. Top Universities in Italy

All sources accurate as of 11 December 2019

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