Maria Rosa Di Simone

Italian universities during the first republican legislature: debates, projects, «minor laws»

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Republic's Constitution; University Reform; First Legislature; Higher Education.

In the Republic's Constitution, the space reserved for culture, research and the institutions concerned is very limited. Articles 9, 33 and 34 have tended to be judged generic and not particularly innovative, particularly with regard to the university system. Indeed, such a legislative vacuum saw the fascist university organization remain largely in place, with only minor changes through pre-Republic legislative orders. The fundamental problem lay with the issue of autonomy that, since the 1800s, had been subject to continual reflection and repeated legislative changes, and moves to apply autonomy met with strong resistance even during the first legislature. However, the early months of the newly established republic were characterized by intense debate and initiatives aimed at bringing about change. A major contribution in this direction came from the minister Guido Gonella and the work of the commission for school reform «Commissione nazionale d'inchiesta per la riforma della scuola» which was established by the minister himself. Even the national association of tenured professors, the «Associazione nazionale dei professori universitari di ruolo» (Anpur), was committed to addressing major issues and to proposing didactical and organizational improvements by means of annual conferences and articles by professors published in the periodicals «L'Università italiana» and «Il Giornale dell'Università». The presentation of the Gonella bill (13 July 1951), which envisaged a wide-ranging and comprehensive restructuring of the entire sector, aroused great hope. However, shortly afterwards, the minister left office and it never became law before the end of the legislative term. This period saw intense activity in the production of laws although they were largely «minor laws», that is measures relating to contingent issues and of limited scope which, in practice, did not substantially impact the existing organization of the university system.

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