Dear President,

We are extremely pleased with the announcement made by Gaetano Manfredi, the Italian Minister of University and Research, which is that universities will reopen in September with lectures and exams held in the classroom.

In fact, blended teaching would have only favoured students living in the cities where universities are located to the detriment of all other students. This is why we particularly appreciated what the Minister said about students physically attending university, which is something that cannot be replaced by distance learning: universities are extraordinary places offering a variety of educational experiences that can only lead to community life, which can never be limited to virtual encounters or individual study.

Favouring distance learning would be a defeat for the entire academic world, as this would ultimately imply giving up the university’s raison d’être.

Students will return to lecture rooms, laboratories and libraries: learning processes require one-to-one interaction between teachers and students, and even the most advanced technology will never be able to mimic this relationship, since everything that is human can never be fully replaced, although we often forget this. 

Naturally, safeguarding health must remain a top priority. In this respect, we are confident that our Universities, which are envied worldwide for their scientific and professional expertise, can come up with a safe and efficient plan that will allow most students to return to university and participate in classroom activities.

Therefore, I hope that Minister Manfredi’s stance will be welcomed by all Italian university rectors. If not, in addition to offering students a limited educational experience, the impact on the economic fabric, which has already been severely affected by the health emergency, should also be assessed. The real estate market, bars, restaurants and bookstores: many commercial businesses could face even greater damage if a university were to decide to further extend the lockdown.

We agreed that it was necessary to suspend activities during the emergency phase, but now that six months have gone by, we need to align ourselves with Minister Manfredi’s stance: ‘we need to look to the future and get students back in the classroom.’

Avv. Prof. Vincenzo Salvatore
     Presidente CCUM