Free university and high expectations; ‘Liberi e Uguali’ challenges Italy

Scrapping university tuition fees to make the dream of a fair society and actual social mobility come true. This time the proposal comes from Italy. In view of new general elections scheduled next March 4th 2018, the new left sided political movement ‘Liberi e Uguali’ (Free and Equal), conquers students’ hopes and raises controversial debate in the oldest country of Europe, where young between 15 and 34 years old are only 21% total population and unemployment rate among young is over 40%.

Pietro Grasso, champion of legality, well known anti-mafia magistrate and now leader of Liberi e Uguali (Leu), hits the cancer consuming Italy from decades as young are not trusting universities and a final degree as a way to access a stable and qualified job. “We will fight to get back to permanent job contracts through a new kind of contract with increased protections reintroducing those guarantees previously eliminated with the Jobs Act”, he said at the movement’s National Assembly in Rome.


Widening graduates skills and growing numbers of qualified professionals would lead to  an increased competition level of the whole country, reducing waste of money, resources and growth in the youth short term contracts exploitation.

Where the 1.6 billion euros for free universities will come from? “That’s only 10%  of the money wasted in funding activities damaging our environment”, Grasso explains.

With Labour’s Party slogan ‘For the many and not for the few’ on his background and Jeremy Corbyn’s free tuition fees proposal in the programme, Pietro Grasso easily talks internationally engaging the left and democratic crowds of Europe.

But despite the far reaching potential and the pragmatic approach, Leu’s programme has not a single point explaining how the selection of applications for qualified jobs will be set out in the country well known in the world for ‘nepotism’ practices: only those introduced to jobs through direct personal links and ties can access and last long in qualified professional positions; this practice only is enough to cut out the highly skilled while reducing the overall competitiveness by quashing internal competition and selection of growing skills from within internal work environment.

Though a generalised increase of graduates and post graduates within the labour market will benefit Italy overall and would spread skills across the economically disadvantaged,  this would grow unemployment rates among the skilled with no ties and not ready to accept non qualified positions, who are the majority. Therefore in order for Italy to economically benefit from free university, a radical change in the labour market, dynamics of work and selection process is vital and urgent.

In Italy very few recruitment agencies operate and the most advertised positions are not qualified, only few ‘careers page’ on companies websites, non mandatory job adverts. One might say ‘well, though the job is advertised, the employer can still select the tagged candidate’; that’s why the actual most needed change is the upgrade or set out of employment tribunals sections dedicated to applicants complaints on selections process.

Each area of change in Italy implies an upgrade of the legal and courts systems. Grasso knows this and represent himself a symbol of justice, that’s why Leu is rising high expectations.

London. 12 Jan. 2018

 Emy Muzzi