Guidance plays a decisive role in the complex and structured process of new generations higher education. The choice of a university career is a very delicate moment in the life of a student who has to make an informed choice in order to build a life project; shortcomings in entry guidance contribute to an increase in the number of drop-outs, as well as to slowing down student careers by disproportionately increasing the time it takes to obtain a degree.
The first admission to university is therefore an extremely delicate phase of a student's career, indeed 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 learning career, through assistance and information services designed to mitigate perplexities and uncertainties linked to the university world impact.
The University of Parma pays particular attention to high school students orientation projects, with the purpose of promoting an accurate and in-depth knowledge of the University's course cataloge and, at the same time, of stimulating conscious choices of their university career. This is also achieved through appropriate preparatory activities aimed at verifying knowledge and/or skills possession or the adjustment of personal preparation required for admission to the degree courses.
In addition to investigating the motivations and expectations of incoming students, guidance activities contemplate the use of innovative teaching experiences, as a function of guidance 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 and managing students careers are showed in the Manifesto degli Studi and in the University Regolations. They are communicated through specific sections of the University website; a specific section of the University portal is dedicated to freshmen: Università di Parma il mondo che ti aspetta. (‘University of Parma the world that awaits you’). An important network of activities and services, described in the document University Policy for Student Services (Politica di Ateneo per i Servizi agli Studenti) and coordinated by the Guidance Delegate, is constantly updated and optimised to accompany students throughout their university career, from entry guidance to tutoring, from internships and apprenticeships to job placement, taking into account the dynamic needs of students, University strategies and the opportunities offered by national or regional tenders on guidance
In order to facilitate students in their careers and to develop their soft skills, the university has adopted a number of special regulations such as, for instance, the Regulations for part-time study programme, the regulations for free participation activities and the regolations for the activation and management of an alias career for gender transitioning people. 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, LsD. and Special Educational Needs, called Le Eli-Che, currently within the U.O. Contributi, Diritto allo Studio e Benessere studentesco division (‘Grants, Right to Education and Student Welfare’). Recently implemented is the establishment of the Polo Universitario Penitenziario (Prison University Complex) with the aim of fostering the right to education of those whose personal liberty is restricted. 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 enhaced its welcoming activities, as well as supporting them in finding accommodation and lodging. It is also 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 incoming orientation 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 Guidance and Orientation are carried out in support of and in close collaboration with the delegate guidance teachers, appointed for each degree course. They 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 every spring at University, and the "From Maturity to University" info days, held every summer at the University, to coincide with the opening of enrolment.
It is also worth mentioning the dissemination of information to prospective freshmen on how to access degree course, the care of projects in collaboration with high schools as part of entry guidance 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 teaching 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 university teachers with a view to supporting the preparation of school students for university enrolment.
The welcoming of foreign students and refugees deserves a separate discourse. Over the years, this activity has become increasingly important within the University objectives, also from an administrative point of view, especially when assessing foreign students qualifications submitted upon enrolment or sent before arrival in Italy for prior assessment 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. Within the framework of this project, part of the University Plan for Refugees, The University of Parma, 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 Careers and Student Services provides accommodation for people with confirmed status of refugees, as well as asylum seekers. For everyone, i.e. both those with recognised and those not yet recognised refugee status and with partial or deficient documentation, the qualifications submitted are assessed. In this context, numerous discussions are scheduled, both with students and with the associations mediators , 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, degree courses and their delegates. These initiatives take the form of placements activated within individual departments by the guidance delegates of the various degree courses 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 internships, it is worth mentioning the more specific initiatives organised directly by teachers (not necessarily delegated for orientation). These actions are thematic and are once again aimed at high school students in order to provide them with further information on study career leading to more or less 'canonical' professional profiles.
In addition, it was also intended to conceive entry guidance 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 guidance 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 attractiveness to the University, but in terms of improving the performance of students who then matriculate at the University of Parma.
The orientation activities of the Department of Chemical, Life and Environmental Sustainability Sciences are coordinated by a Delegate appointed by the Director (https://scvsa.unipr.it/it/orientamento/orientamento-ingresso). The department has a teaching secretariat with qualified technical staff units, one of which is dedicated to bachelor's and master's degrees in the L-32 and LM-75 (STAR) classes. The teaching secretariat provides an information service from 9 a.m. to 12 noon from Monday to Friday, particularly during the enrolment period (with the exception of the University's facilities closure period).
The degree course periodically appoints a professor responsible for orientation activities. This professor acts in a coordinated manner with the president and other delegates of the degree courses incardinated in the Department of Chemical, Life and Environmental Sustainability Sciences in order to participate in the initiatives organised by the University concerning orientation and information for students interested in enrolling in the Master's degree.
These initiatives mainly refer to:
- organisation of the master's degree 'open day' event - preparation of texts describing the degree course for the university brochures - information and evaluation of the curricula studiorum of students from other bachelor degree courses at the university and/or other universities - updating of the degree course's facebook page (www.facebook.com/corsoSTAR).
A degree course mailbox was opened to display incoming messages to the president, secretary and RAQ of the degree course, thus ensuring a quick and effective response to enquiries.
The professor in charge of orientation and the president of the degree course maintain contact with students who have expressed interest in the master degree STAR; the president also participates as a member of the degree course Teaching Commission, which organises the admission interviews of students who have applied for the master degree STAR. The assessment interviews for admission to the master degree STAR are published on the degree course website, as are any changes in venue, date and time. In addition, at the specific request of candidates, additional admission interviews may be organised beyond those listed in the calendar.