Challenge to British Universities as Vice-Chancellors asked: Are your British degrees worth less than Italian degrees?
Fifty-nine year old British chairman of ALLSI, the Association of Foreign Lecturers in Italy, David Petrie, who teaches at the University of Verona has written (30 September 2010) to the Principals and Vice-Chancellors (note 1) of five universities – Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford and Reading – seeking parity of treatment for British graduates teaching in Italian universities who are denied access to promoted posts in Italian universities.
David Petrie said today, “When graduates from British universities apply for promoted posts in Italian universities their applications are still being blocked – it’s simply not a level playing field. As well as ignoring judgments of the European Court of Justice, the practice of favouring Italian graduates over British graduates, flies in the face of the so-called Bologna Process (note 2). We would like to know if the Vice-Chancellors in those five British universities exclude Italian graduates from recruitment procedures in the same way that graduates from Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford and Reading are excluded.
“After 15 years of litigation on this specific point – access to jobs – the European Commission informs us in a letter dated 18 August 2010 that any possible difficulty we have in the ‘application’ of Italian recruitment laws is now ‘a matter of internal competence’. If this is an example of ‘subsidiarity’ in the EU – then I m afraid it’s like trusting the foxes to look after the chickens.”
Petrie will be meeting with UK Minister for Europe in David Liddington MP, in London on 28 October 2010./ENDS
David Petrie, 3 October 2010
INFORMATION and PHOTOS: David Petrie +39 347 4297324
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For 25 years non-Italian teachers working in Italian universities have been locked in a legal battle for parity of treatment, increments for years of service, social security and pension rights and access to employment under EU single market rules. The European Court of Justice has ruled in their favour a record six times.
On this specific issue, access to jobs: In 1995 Petrie, a Dundee graduate applied for a promoted post at the University of Verona, as did two Oxford graduates. Their applications were deemed inadmissible by Verona University faculty board. They challenged this decision in the European Court of Justice, which, on 20 November 1997, ruled on the principles which were to be applied in order to uphold EU rules that prohibit discrimination based on nationality. A Venice Regional Court examined the factual background and applied the ECJ principles in favour of the 3 British graduates on 14 January 1999. The University of Verona failed in its appeal. Despite these rulings the University of Verona continued to block applications for teaching posts – a regional court ruled again in Petrie’s favour 26 March 2003. Throughout Italy non-Italian teachers applied for promoted posts in the universities where they work, only to find their applications rejected as inadmissible.
Under pressure from the European Commission the Italian government, on 8 July 2008, issued a Ministerial decree to all Italian state universities clarifying that non-Italians could apply for promoted posts in the universities where they work. But this decree, which lacks the full force of law, conflicts with Italian law 63 of 2006, which prohibits categories of non-Italians from carrying out “any teaching duties”.
On 8 September 2009 lawyers acting for ALLSI wrote to the European Commission complaining that many universities (including Cassino, Cagliari, Ferrara, Florence, Genova, Messina, Palermo, Perugia, Udine and Urbino) were still advertising posts which excluded the non-Italian teaching staff from recruitment procedures.
The European Commission, in its letter dated 18 August 2010 considers that any interpretation of the conflict between these regulations is a matter for the Italian authorities.
NOTES 1 and 2
(1) University of Dundee Principal – Prof. Pete Downes ; University of Edinburgh – Principal Prof. Timothy O’Shea; University of Glasgow – Principal Prof. Anton Muscatelli; University of Oxford – Vice-Chancellor Prof. Andrew Hamilton; University of Reading – Vice Chancellor Gordon Marshall.
(2) The Bologna Process was established in Bologna, Italy in June 1999 when Education Ministers from 29 countries signed the Bologna Declaration. From the Official Website of the Bologna Process: The main international legal text that aims to further the fair recognition of qualifications is the Council of Europe/UNESCO Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (Lisbon Recognition Convention). Like any legal text, the Convention must be put into practice. The recognition of qualifications falls within the competence of each country. In most cases, this means that higher education institutions are responsible for the recognition of qualifications for the purpose of further study whereas professional bodies or employers are responsible for recognition for the purposes of the labour market. http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/hogeronderwijs/bologna/