Unilab Svoltastudenti brought a motion regarding University Orientation to the meeting of the National Council of University Students in December 2021.
The motion concerning University Orientation asks:
- That the Ministry of Universities and Research, together with the Ministry of Education, strive to understand the problems of the current University Orientation and promote solutions able to provide an effective and quality orientation. The term University Orientation is to be understood, for the purpose of this Motion, as the set of awareness-raising tools at the disposal of the MUR with the aim of:
- include female and male students in the university path. It is done avoiding their abandonment of studies, by making known the main characteristics and benefits of the university and the supports present (such as, for example, the Right to Study);
- to enable students to obtain the information they need to make their university decisions autonomously and freely.
It also makes the following points:
1. Brief description of the state of the art
At the moment, to the best of our knowledge, the following orientation options are available to students leaving high school, especially between the fourth and final year:
- Formal orientation opportunities promoted by the school;
- Orientation occasions offered by the university and not recognised by the school;
- Orientation fairs and exhibitions held physically;
- Official online resources: official websites promoted by the Ministry (e.g. Universitaly), websites of individual universities, online fairs and exhibitions;
- Online resources produced by private individuals (posts, videos and stories on Instagram, TikTok, Twitch and similar channels).
2. Problems of current university orientation
At the moment, the main problems of the University Orientation system, intrinsically linked to the above mentioned delivery methods, are:
- territorial inhomogeneity at a regional level: there are great differences in the offer of orientation opportunities at a ‘macro’ level (physical orientation fairs and exhibitions and orientation opportunities offered by universities) among the various geographical areas of Italy;
- inhomogeneous orientation activities organised by individual universities, which too often interpret orientation events as a form of “recruitment”, focusing the information on the services and qualities of their own university campus, rather than on effective orientation to university courses, also in relation to the work aspirations of students in their final years.
- lack of homogeneity of individual educational institutions with regard to orientation initiatives promoted by private companies or individual universities (differences in the justifications guaranteed, in the offers proposed and in the support given to students in this regard);
- reticence on the part of high school professors in encouraging students to participate in orientation activities;
- uneven use by schools of the Programme for Transversal Competences and Orientation (PCTO);
- excessive reliance on students’ personal knowledge networks and their and their families’ perceptions of the university context;
This list is not exhaustive, but intends to capture as broadly as possible the different issues arising in individual contexts.
3. Targeted action to improve the transition between school and university
3.1 Understanding what students really need
Considering the problems mentioned, we ask, in the first instance, to conduct a sample survey among students already in university and high school. This is to collect information on what tools the latter would like to have at their disposal. This was to gather information on what tools the latter would like to have at their disposal and what the former would like to have when choosing a university. Given the changeability, rapidity and unpredictability of the modes and means of communication used by young people aged between 16 and 19, such surveys can provide useful feedback in structuring orientation practices.
3.2 Take action to improve University Orientation
In the light of what has been said so far, we ask that MUR and MI take action to improve the current university orientation, such as:
- Encouragement by the MUR of the introduction of “Spring Schools” (or “Fall Scools”): opportunities for students during the orientation period to attend (physically or online) periods of 2-3 days specially designed by universities to introduce secondary school students to university courses of interest, designated specifically for them. These ‘Spring/Fall Schools’ should focus on general areas of interest and not be exclusively focused on a single course of study. The possibility of participating in such events should be encouraged by the schools (e.g. by justifying absences) and the cost should be as low as possible, so that all students can participate, without placing an excessive burden on university budgets.
- Improvement of existing online portals: Introduction of a new portal or radical rethinking of the content, interface and marketing of the Universitaly portal.
In addition, it is requested to
- Introduction of information systems closer to students: creation of special social channels that produce easily accessible content for students of the Liceo and that can easily link them to the above-mentioned portal.
- Introduction of moments of training on the job prospects arising from the different university courses. In fact, the choice of university is often linked to the work and career aspirations of students. It is therefore necessary to provide cognitive tools for a free and informed decision.
- Encouragement of tutoring programmes, including online tutoring, to effectively put high school students in contact with their peers in the faculties of interest at university.
- Shifting the orientation period: bringing this period forward from the last year of high school to the second half of the penultimate year and the first half of the last, encouraging as much as possible the anticipation of the first general introduction events in the first half of the penultimate year.
- Reshaping the programmes of the last two years of school to facilitate the active participation of students in these activities.
Questi e simili obiettivi dovrebbero essere perseguiti attraverso una serie di azioni strategiche da parte dei Ministeri di competenza:
- Adequate investment in orientation: increase funding dedicated to the relevant structures.
- Remodulation of existing tools (e.g. PCTO): use of facilities and time availability by remodelling existing projects.
- Introduction of periodic meetings with student representatives from high schools and universities.