The presentation compares some statistics on the Italian and Portuguese state university systems. These two Southern European countries currently spend the same share of GDP in Gross Expenditures in Research and Development (1.29% of GDP) but have extremely different investements in higher education. Moreover, data and recent trends on academic staff and students to staff ratio are presented.
The presentation analyzes the dynamics of the 28 disciplinary groups in the Italian higher education system, focusing on their representativeness and evolution between 2008 and 2016.
Within the general decreasing pattern of 19.2%, in terms of permanent academic staff (Full-, Associate-, and Assistant professors), the most representative group in 2016 is medical sciences that accounts for 17% of the total Italian university system and has suffered a decrease of 25%. Some groups have registered even more massive reductions, such as literary (-31%) or historical sciences (-33%), while other groups have witnessed a more modest contraction (e.g. law, economics and industrial economics). However, the analysis of the trend of students enrolled and registered within the same disciplinary groups highlights the presence of an important mis-matching. On the one hand, some sectors have “suffered” in terms of academic staff because of an increase in the number of students, such as the medical, engineering and the linguistic groups. On the other hand, other sectors have “suffered” in terms of number of students. Observing both the law and socio-political disciplinary groups, the reduction in academic staff was more than proportional compared to the reduction in the number of students enrolled and registered. For both disciplinary groups, there is a marked imbalance in the evolution of the two components (student and academic staff).
Focusing on a more in-depth analysis, at the level of individual sectors and scientific disciplines (SSD), some sectors – mostly belonging to the healthcare, economic and financial areas – grew significantly in the period 2008-2016. On the contrary, others registered an important decline, with reductions in academic permanent staff of over 40%, or endangered with a number of members of the tenured academic staff of 5 or less.