The number of Chinese students taking part in the Marco Polo and Turandot programmes has doubled since 2009, increasing from 1,099 to 2,178, as was illustrated at the Conference held at the Farnesina on 15 December. The two government programmes were established to boost scientific cooperation between Italy and Asia, and increase the number of Chinese students in Italy. Organised by Uni-Italia, with the support of the Foreign Ministry, the conference was aimed at Universities, AFAM (Higher Artistic and Musical Training) and language training organisations. The event also provided an opportunity to take stock of the weaknesses, best practices and any room for improvement in the programmes.
The Director General for the Promotion of the Italian Economic System, Vincenzo De Luca, complimented Uni-Italia on its efforts to promote the internationalisation of the Italian higher training system, noting that China was one of the most important countries for the Italian economic system. The Ministry of Education and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China – attending for the first time and represented by Professor Junhong Hu of the training office - agreed on how important this conference was to give the main parties involved the chance to discuss and exchange views.
According to the Secretary-General of Uni-Italia, Alberto Ortolani, these programmes played a decisive role in the internationalisation of the Italian training system. There was unanimous agreement that inadequate language training of the students is still the main problem. Ettore Sequi, the Italian Ambassador in Beijing, sent a message to stress the importance of the Marco Polo and Turandot programmes in attracting Chinese students to Italy. The other participants included Ms Paola Castellucci for the Directorate General for Students, Development and Internationalisation at the Ministry of Education and Ms Cinthia Petralito for the Central Directorate for Immigration and the Border Police at the Ministry of the Interior. There were over 100 representatives from Universities, AFAM and language schools at the conference.