The higher arts education system in Italy is organised as follows:
a) Higher education outside universities but ranking at university level:
The AFAM system (see chapter 5.1) is made up of the following institutions:
- Academies of Fine Arts;
- Legally recognised Fine Arts Academies;
- National Academy of Drama;
- Higher Institutes for Arts Industries;
- Academies of Music; and
- Recognised Music Institutes.
According to Law 508/1999 (see also chapter 5.1), music and dance education are provided by Higher Institutes for Music and Dance Studies (ISSMCs), including all Academies of Music / Conservatoires (MC), recognised Music Institutes (IMPs) and the National Dance Academy (AND), while education in visual arts, design and drama is offered by the Academies of Fine Arts (ABA), Higher Institutes for Arts Industries (ISIAs) and the National Academy of Drama (ANAD).
AFAM institutions are endowed with full autonomy (statutory, scientific, teaching, managerial, financial), although they must refer to MIUR (Ministry of Education, University and Research) for all matters related to planning, orientation and coordination (Art. 2, paragraph 3 of Law 508/99). AFAM institutions may establish programmes at different levels, from the basic to the advanced and specialised, and promote research in the arts and music. Admission is normally subject to an entrance examination. Final qualifications have been defined by law as equivalent to university degrees, so that their holders may participate in public competitions and / or pursue more advanced studies both within the university and the non-university sectors of higher education.
The full implementation of the reform will take some years, since the reorganisation of curricula is still in an experimental phase. In 2004-2005, all AFAM institutions have established 1st cycle and 2nd cycle programmes (bachelor-level and master-level, respectively) which have been approved by MIUR.
In addition to AFAM institutions, the higher arts education system includes institutions such as:
- the National Music Academy (ANM di Santa Cecilia), which offers post-graduate programmes at advanced level for qualified musicians; and
- the National School of Cinema, under the supervision of MIBACT ( chapter 1.3.1), which offers training in film-making for actors and directors; admission is by a highly selective national competition which is also open to foreign candidates.
Schools for archivists and experts in Palaeography and Diplomatics are state institutions of university ranking that also fall under the supervision of MIBACT. They are established at the state archives in several cities. Programmes last for two years and lead to the award of a Diploma in Archival Studies, Palaeography and Diplomatics.
b) Non-university higher education:
Heritage conservation and restoration are taught at the central institutes / schools for the cultural heritage which are under the responsibility of MIBACT (e.g. Higher Institute for Conservation and Restoration, Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, Central Institute for Books and Archives Conservation and Restoration). Admission is normally open to applicants who have previous knowledge and experience in the chosen field. Courses usually last between 3 and 4 years. Short programmes are also available; they consist of further specialisation for professionals who are already experienced in a given field.
Regional education and training (Formazione Professionale Regionale – FPR) includes a variety of programmes at post-secondary level, comprising Applied Arts (Design, Graphics), Cinema, Dance, Fashion, Media and Communication, Landscape Architecture, Music, Theatre, etc. All the FPR programmes are offered by schools / institutes which have been directly established either by the Regions, Provinces, Municipalities or by non-public bodies, and have subsequently obtained legal recognition of all or some of their courses from the relevant offices of the above mentioned local authorities.