Advising and guidance

The term guidance refers to all activities aimed at enabling the future student or sophomore to plan and manage their learning in a manner consistent with personal life goals and making full use of individual skills and interests in order to achieve personal fulfilment.

Depending on the moment in the university course when these activities are implemented, a distinction is made between:

  • guidance: carried out before the choice of the course of study, it is aimed at future students and offers support in identifying the course to be undertaken on the basis of individual interests, expectations and aptitudes. In this phase, the various possible scenarios are presented to the future student and the alternatives of the university pathway are illustrated;
  • orientation in progress: carried out during the university career, this is aimed at enrolled students and is designed to guide them within the courses of study already undertaken, enabling them to establish a better interaction with the structures and the university context;
  • career guidance: carried out close to or after graduation, it is aimed at graduates or undergraduates and aims to facilitate their introduction into the working environment.

Guidance

Guidance actions play a decisive role in the complex and articulated process of higher education of the new generations. The choice of a higher education curriculum is indeed a very delicate moment in the life of the student who has to make a conscious choice in order to build his or her own life project; shortcomings in guidance contribute to an increase in the number of study drop-outs, as well as to slowing down student careers by disproportionately increasing the time it takes to obtain a degree.

First entry to university is therefore an extremely delicate phase of a student's education, as evidenced by the fact that most drop-outs occur during the first year of enrolment. It is therefore extremely important for the university to organise, at this stage, activities capable of supporting one of the most delicate passages in a young person's training career, through assistance and information services aimed at alleviating perplexities and uncertainties related to the impact with the university world.

The University of Parma pays particular attention to orientation projects aimed at high school students, in order to promote an accurate and in-depth knowledge of the University's course catalogue and, at the same time, to stimulate conscious choices of their university career also through appropriate preparatory activities aimed at verifying the possession of the knowledge and/or skills or the adjustment of personal preparation necessary for access to study courses.

At the same time, orientation activities, in addition to focusing on investigations into the motivations and expectations of incoming students, contemplate the use of innovative teaching experiences, as a function of orientation itself, in order to achieve career regularity. With this in mind, the service is aimed at enhancing the tools for assessing students' incoming skills, particularly for those courses of study with a high drop-out rate.

The procedures for enrolling, admitting students and managing their careers are set out in the Prospectus and the University's Academic Regulations and communicated through specific sections of the University website; a specific section of the University portal is dedicated to freshmen:
University of Parma the world that awaits you. An important network of activities and services, described in the document University Policy for Student Services and coordinated by the Delegate for Orientation, is constantly updated and optimised to accompany students throughout their university career, from guidance to tutoring, internships and traineeships to job placement, taking into account the dynamic needs of students, University strategies and the opportunities offered by national or regional calls for orientation.

In order to facilitate students in their curriculum and to develop their soft skills, the university has adopted a number of special regulations such as, for instance, the Regulations for the enrolment of part-time students, the Regulations for free participation activities and the Regulations for the activation and management of an alias career for subjects in gender transition. The university pays particular attention to the problems of students with disabilities, so much so that since 2000 it has set up a support unit for vulnerable groups and students with disabilities, D.S.A. and B.E.S., called Le Eli Che, currently within the U.O. Grants, Right to Study and Student Welfare. Recently implemented is the establishment of the Prison University Pole with the aim of fostering the right to study of those in a state of restriction of personal liberty. A specific mentoring activity is planned for high-level student athletes.
The actions implemented by the University are reported annually in the Performance Report document and are monitored annually in a report by the Rector's delegates.

For the reception of foreign students, a number of activities have been launched that can be consulted on
the English version of the university website. In order to promote the recruitment of foreign students, the university has stepped up its reception activities, as well as supporting them in finding accommodation and lodging, and is testing the feasibility of establishing a Foundation Year, a preparatory training course for foreign students with less than 12 years of schooling.

In general, the orientation service consists of guaranteeing all the activities related to the guidance processes for students, supporting future students and their families in making informed choices of the university pathway, and welcoming students, including foreign students, into the university environment.
The main activities of the O.U. Guidance and Orientation are carried out in support of and in close collaboration with the professors delegated for orientation, appointed for each course of study, and range from the organisation of and participation in orientation meetings held at upper secondary schools to the organisation of educational visits to Departments, aimed at helping students in the final years of upper secondary schools choose their course of study, from participation in national orientation fairs, organised in various locations throughout Italy, to collaboration in the organisation of the "Studiare a Parma" (Study in Parma) open days, held annually at the University in the spring, and the "From Maturity to University" info days, held annually at the University in the summer, to coincide with the opening of enrolment.

It is also worth mentioning the dissemination of information to future students on how to access courses of study, the care of projects in collaboration with upper secondary schools as part of entry orientation activities, support for the structures involved in 'Alternanza Scuola-Lavoro' courses and the holding of information and orientation interviews for students and families; finally, the service handles the management of reorientation processes for enrolled students, in collaboration with the professor staff and the psychological counselling service.

In connection with high schools, the university has launched a series of specific projects involving school teachers in coordination with UNIPR teachers with a view to supporting the preparation of school students for university enrolment.

These projects specifically are:
- CORDA Project, established in 2001 as an orientation initiative for students in their last year of some high schools who intended to undertake studies at the Faculty of Engineering in Parma, now extended to all the University's scientific courses;
- Scientific Degrees Plan (PLS), established in 2004 with the aim of combating the growing disaffection of young people towards scientific disciplines. 

The activity of welcoming foreign students and refugees deserves a separate discourse, which over the years has become increasingly important within the objectives that the University has set for itself, also from an administrative point of view, especially with regard to the evaluation of foreign qualifications that students submit upon enrolment and which, in some cases, they send before arriving in Italy for prior evaluation for admission to master's degree courses. With regard to the delicate and current context of the refugee situation, the university recently joined the National Coordination on the Evaluation of Refugee Qualifications (CNVQR) with which the MIUR, with the support of the CIMEA, has set itself the objective of providing universities with useful tools to proceed with the recognition of the qualifications of refugees with little or no documentation. The University of Parma, within the framework of this project, which is also part of the University Plan for Refugees, was able to receive precise notions on the procedure to follow in cases of poor or absent documentation, establishing important contacts with other universities and with CIMEA staff, for fruitful cooperation. Based on this protocol, the O.U. Careers and Services for Students provides accommodation for refugees with confirmed status, as well as asylum seekers. For everyone, i.e. both those with recognised refugee status and those with a status that is not yet final and with partial or deficient documentation, the qualifications submitted are assessed. In this context, numerous discussions are scheduled, both with students and with the mediators of the associations, as well as with the Presidents of the Course Councils to which the students approach, and with ERGO for possible benefits.

In addition to all these centrally coordinated activities, there are other actions implemented on the direct initiative of individual departments, courses of study and their delegates. These initiatives take the form of traineeships activated at individual departments by the guidance delegates of the various courses of study and take place over one or more days; the relevant information is collected in a digital brochure published annually on the website; the same brochure is sent by email, through direct contact with school guidance directors and teachers, to all schools in the catchment area (Parma and neighbouring provinces as well as other provinces in which guidance meetings are organised in schools or where guidance fairs are held).

In addition to traineeships, it is worth mentioning the more specific initiatives organised directly by intructors (not necessarily delegated for guidance). These actions are thematic and are once again aimed at high school students in order to provide them with further information on curricula leading to more or less 'canonical' professional profiles.

In addition, it was also intended to conceive entry orientation as a function of the choice of a master's degree, so as to orientate it, favouring vocation and talent, through more intensive contacts with students enrolled in first-level degrees.

Lastly, it seems appropriate, in this context, to mention the Customer Satisfaction project undertaken by the University of Parma, capable of allowing, among other things, the assessment of the effectiveness of orientation actions, an open issue and not entirely resolved in the national panorama, in order to allow a more conscious and targeted choice by students and, in particular, to verify that orientation actions are productive, not so much in terms of attractiveness to the University, but in terms of improving the performance of students who then matriculate at the University of Parma.

The incoming orientation activities of the degree course in 'Modern Foreign Languages and Civilisations' are divided between activities organised by the University and activities organised independently by the course. Among the former, the course takes part in the Open Day (lasting three days, in which professors and student tutors provide information and give presentations, in the context of the Humanities Area, on the course catalogue and the professional opportunities of the course) and Info Day (lasting one day, in the period immediately preceding the opening of enrolment). To encourage the participation of interested parties, some of these information days are also held on Saturdays.

Among the activities organised by the degree course, also on the basis of a close relationship with the University's Guidance and Internship Sector - Course Orientation and Tutoring Service, are course presentation meetings at secondary schools; cycles of classes, during the first and second semester, open to students in the final classes of secondary schools; alternating school-work activities, aimed at welcoming high school students (usually in the fourth year) to the Department's facilities where the course activities take place, especially in agreement with the high schools with which a solid collaboration has been established. In addition, since a.a. 2016/2017, the Degree Course participates in the University's 'Bridge' project, coordinated by a DC professor, with the aim of further consolidating collaboration with local secondary schools.

From 2019, orientation activities are further enhanced thanks to the Orientation and Tutoring Plan (POT), for which Prof. Nicoletta Cabassi is responsible.

Guidance and tutoring in itinere

The purpose of the service is to support the proper integration of students in the course of study through, in particular, specific tutoring activities aimed at students enrolled in the first year of the course, as well as to promote effective career progression by students through, in particular, assistance in the compilation of individual programmes of study, ongoing guidance activities aimed at encouraging students to choose the course of study most suited to their characteristics, as well as remedial activities for students in difficulty.

At the same time as strengthening the tools for assessing students' incoming skills, particularly for those with a high drop-out rate, the university provides remedial teaching activities and ensures adequate tutoring services throughout the university course, calibrated to take into account the assessment mechanisms of the courses of study, with the aim of pursuing the result of improving their quality, by providing tutors for each individual course of study.

Orientation and in itinere tutoring, therefore, take on particular value by virtue of the growing importance of the improvement and success, from an educational point of view, of regularly enrolled students, an aspect that cannot, however, disregard the initial level of basic skills of incoming students, which contributes significantly to the underperformance of matriculated students. In order to improve specific performance, the university has set out to develop a series of actions aimed at integrating and strengthening the core subject areas, as well as implementing supplementary preparatory and preparatory courses for examinations. In this sense, didactic tutoring can facilitate the completion of curriculum on time and, in particular, reduce first-year drop-outs. The aim is to guide and assist students throughout their studies, to make them active participants in the educational process, to remove obstacles to successful attendance, including through course units tailored to the needs, aptitudes and requirements of individuals. The in itinere guidance and tutoring service, therefore, takes the form of support and assistance to students enrolled in the courses of study, diversified according to the needs of the users and adapted to changing needs. In particular, the activities implemented, carried out by professors embedded in the courses of study, concern the dissemination of information, reception, support and tutoring to help students during their education. More specifically, the activities carried out include advising on the development of programmes of study and on issues relating to prerequisites, course, exercise and laboratory attendance, the cultural and professional orientation of students, the promotion of their participation in national and international exchange or mobility programmes, and the referral of students to the appropriate support structures in the event of any difficulties or psychological distress.

In this context, services to students that contribute to their cultural and scientific education and facilitate their entry into the world of work are favoured and strengthened, with the aim of offering students the opportunity to acquire certified supplementary skills during their chosen course of study.

In connection with high schools, the University of Parma has launched a specific project involving school teachers in coordination with university professor staff with a view to supporting the preparation of students enrolled in the first or second year who need disciplinary reinforcement. The IDEA project (https://smfi.unipr.it/it/progetto-idea and https://dusic.unipr.it/it/didattica/progetto-idea), aimed at didactic integration by means of assisted exercises, is in fact an initiative that aims at the realisation of an operational link between high school and university, for a profitable connection between secondary school didactics and university didactics, as an effective means of reducing student difficulties and drop-out phenomena and is operational in various mathematical, scientific and humanistic fields.

Tutoring and tutorials also make it possible to support both the process aimed at increasing the number of students who enrol in the second year of the same degree class or single-cycle degree having acquired an adequate number of university ECTS credits in relation to the cohort of enrolled students in the previous academic year, and the process aimed at increasing the number of graduates who obtain their final degree within the normal duration of the degree course.

In addition, it was also intended to design the tutoring as a function of the choice of a master's degree, so as to orient it, favouring vocation and talent, through more intensive contacts with students, school directors and the career guidance delegates of upper secondary schools.


The degree course in 'Modern Foreign Languages and Civilisation' organises tutoring activities in accordance with the University's tutoring regulations. Throughout the academic year, professors are available for guidance and tutoring, either during weekly student reception hours or at other times to be agreed upon. Additional activities related to tutoring are those carried out by the professor supervising the final examination and the university tutor professor for the internship.
Foreign students, who are particularly numerous and sensitive to these issues, are recommended to attend an Italian course organised by the university.
The course also employs student tutors who assist students in the various stages of their higher education, through weekly receptions, by e-mail and also with a dedicated page on the Elly platform. During 2019, the tutoring activity was further implemented thanks to the actions envisaged by the POT - Orientation and Tutoring Plan, which envisages a specific support service for English, French and German languages (Study Groups)
Finally, since 2017/18, targeted meetings have been planned for the various years, in the presence of the President, the QAM and any other staff involved: for the first year, a discussion to highlight difficulties encountered by students during the a.a.; for the second year, an information meeting on the performance of the internship and the choice of thesis; for all years, an information meeting on the compilation of the programme of study.

Responsible for orientation are the professors:
Michela CANEPARI
Nicoletta CABASSI

They are assisted by course tutors: Sara Aggazio, Chiara D'Elia, Elena Uccelli.