Rome’s La Sapienza ranked best university in Italy

La Sapienza in Rome has risen in the annual rankings to be named 'best in Italy' once again.

Rome's La Sapienza ranked best university in Italy
A statue of Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva, in front of Rome's La Sapienza University. File photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The 2019 edition of the prestigious annual Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), by independent research organisation Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, named La Sapienza as Italy’s top university.

The ranking is based on criteria including the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals and the number of highly-cited researchers.

The top 30 places in the international table were dominated by US and UK universities, with the top three places once again taken by Harvard, Stanford and Cambridge.

The highest ranking universities in Europe included ETH Zurich (in 19th place) and the University of Copenhagen (26th).

Rome came much further behind in 153rd place, closely followed by Italy’s University of Pisa and the Statale di Milano.

But it’s an improvement on last year’s ranking, where La Sapienza fell into the 201-300 range

The 2019 ranking was described by La Sapienza president Eugenio Gaudio as a “remarkable leap forward.”

ARWU ranks the world’s top 1,800 universities – out of a total of 17,000 – publishing an annual list of the top 1,000.

A total of 46 Italian universities feature in the 2019 ARWU ranking.

Another international ranking released in June 2019 also put La Sapienza in the top spot, while an Italian survey last month ranked Bologna’s historic campus as the best large university in the country


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Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules

Around three-quarters of French teachers plan to go on strike onThursday to protest the government's shifting rules on Covid testing for students, forcing the closure of half the country's primary schools, a union said Tuesday.

Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

The strike led by the Snuipp-FSU union, the largest among primary school teachers, comes after the latest of several changes on testing and isolation requirements for potential Covid cases announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex late Monday.

After seeing long lines of parents outside pharmacies and labs in recent days to test children in classes where a case was detected, Castex said home tests could now be used to determine if a student could return to school.

But teachers say class disruptions have become unmanageable with the spread of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant.

“Students cannot learn properly because attendance varies wildly, and a hybrid of in-house and distance learning is impossible to put in place,” the Snuipp-FSU said, adding that absent teachers are not being replaced.

It is also demanding the government provide facemasks for staff, including the more protective FFP2 masks, and CO2 monitors to check if classrooms are sufficiently ventilated.

“Not only does the current protocol not protect students, staff or their families, it has completely disorganised schools,” the union said, claiming that classes have effectively been turned into “daycare centres.”

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has said the government is doing everything possible to avoid outright school closures that could cause havoc for parents and jeopardise learning for thousands, especially those in low-income families.

“I know there is a lot of fatigue, of anxiety… but you don’t go on strike against a virus,” Blanquer told BFM television on Tuesday.

As of Monday some 10,000 classes had been shut nationwide because of Covid cases, representing around two percent of all primary school classes, Blanquer said.