Advising and guidance

Guidance refers to all activities aimed at enabling future and current students to plan and manage their learning in a way that is consistent with their personal life goals and makes full use of their individual skills and interests to achieve personal fulfilment.
Depending on the stage of the university process at which these activities are carried out, a distinction is made between:

Incoming guidance: carried out before the choice of degree course, incoming guidance is aimed at future students and offers support in identifying which course to take based on individual interests, expectations and aptitudes.

In this phase, the various possible scenarios are presented to the future student and the alternatives of the university path are illustrated; ongoing guidance: carried out during the university career, it is aimed at enrolled students and is designed to guide them through the degree courses they are on, enabling them to better interact with the structures and the university context; career guidance: carried out close to or after graduation, it is aimed at graduates or graduating students and designed to facilitate their introduction into the working environment.

Incoming guidance

It is also worth mentioning the dissemination of information to future students on how to access degree courses, the running of projects in collaboration with upper secondary schools as part of incoming guidance activities, support for the structures involved in 'Alternanza Scuola-Lavoro' (study-work alternation) courses and the holding of information and guidance interviews for students and families; finally, the service handles the management of reorientation processes for enrolled students, in collaboration with the teaching staff and the psychological counselling service.
In connection with secondary 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 are:

- The CORDA Project, established in 2001 as a guidance initiative for students in their last year of some secondary schools who intended to undertake studies at the Faculty of Engineering in Parma, and now extended to all the University's scientific courses;
- Piano Lauree Scientifiche (PLS), established in 2004 with the aim of combating the growing disaffection of young people towards scientific disciplines. At UNIPR, PLS is divided into different subject areas:
- Biology and Biotechnology;
- Chemistry;
- Geology;
- Physics;
- Mathematics.

The reception of foreign students and refugees deserves particular consideration, and has over the years become increasingly important within the University’s objectives, including 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 second-cycle degree courses. With regard to the delicate and current context of the refugee situation, the university recently joined the Coordinamento Nazionale sulla Valutazione delle Qualifiche dei Rifugiati (‘National Coordination on the Evaluation of Refugee Qualifications’) or CNVQR, through which the MIUR, with the support of the CIMEA, aims to provide universities with tools for recognising 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 detailed information 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 Careers and Services for Students division 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 within individual departments by the guidance delegates of the various courses of study and taking 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 teaching staff (not necessarily the guidance delegates). 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 what are generally considered ‘traditional’ professional profiles.
In addition, incoming guidance is also adapted to suit the choice of a second-cycle degree, so as to offer guidance, encouraging vocation and talent, through more intensive contact with students enrolled on 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 guidance actions are productive, not so much in terms of attracting students to the University, but in terms of improving the performance of students who then enrol at the University of Parma.
In the specific case of the Master's Degree Course in Medicine and Surgery, guidance is carried out by the relevant teaching staff through seminars at high schools in Parma and its Province and neighbouring Provinces. The schedule of meetings is agreed by the schools with the University's ‘Welcome and Guidance’ unit

The Degree Course is also presented at the 'OpenDay' (three consecutive days in April) and 'InfoDay' (one day in July) events, organised each year by the University.


Ongoing tutoring and guidance


The service is intended to support the proper integration of students in the degree course through, in particular, specific tutoring activities aimed at students enrolled in the first year of the course, as well as to promote effective career advancement by students through, in particular, assistance in the compilation of individual programmes of study, ongoing guidance activities, designed to encourage students to choose the degree course that best suits their characteristics, as well as remedial activities for students in difficulty.

At the same time as enhancing the tools for assessing students' incoming skills, especially 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 evaluation mechanisms of the courses of study, in order to pursue the result of improving the quality of the same, providing tutors for each individual degree course.

Guidance and ongoing tutoring, therefore, take on particular significance in view 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 enrolled 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 propaedeutic courses for examinations. In this sense, didactic tutoring can facilitate the completion of studies 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 of course units, including through initiatives tailored to the needs, aptitudes and requirements of individuals. The ongoing guidance and tutoring service, therefore, takes the form of support and assistance to students enrolled in courses of study, diversified according to the needs of the users and adaptable to the changing needs presented. In particular, the activities implemented, carried out by professors/instructors delivering the degree courses, concern the dissemination of information, reception, support and tutoring to help students during their university careers. More specifically, students are offered advice on drawing up their programmes of study and on issues relating to prerequisites, course, exercise and laboratory attendance, the cultural and professional guidance of students, the promotion of their participation in national and international exchange or mobility programmes, as well as the referral to appropriate support structures in the event of any difficulties or psychological distress.

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

In connection with secondary schools, the University of Parma has launched a specific project involving school teachers in coordination with university teaching staff with a view to supporting the preparation of students enrolled in the first or second year in need of subject reinforcement. IDEA Project ( e…), aimed at didactic integration by means of assisted tutorial sessions, 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 tutorial sessions 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 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, tutoring is adapted to suit the choice of a second-cycle degree, so as to offer guidance, encouraging vocation and talent, through more intensive contact with students, school directors and the career guidance of upper secondary schools.