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To improve educational and professional opportunities in Southern Italy, the “StudioSì” fund, founded by the Italian Ministry for University and Research (MUR) and managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), has awarded its first €2 million in cost-free loans.

The fund, benefitting from a €100 million allocation of the European Social Fund (ESF), supports students from Italy's eight southern regions who study in Italy or abroad, with zero-interest loans to finance their tuition fees and living costs.

The loans can be requested through two Italian banks, Intesa San Paoloand ICCREA, who will each manage half of the total allocation. The financing is meant for students who follow master's studies in one of the twelve specialisations outlined in the National Strategy for Intelligent Specialisation (SNSI), including agrifood, design, energy and sustainable mobility. Up to 25% of the resources can be used by students from other regions or EU countries, who want to study at a Southern-Italian university, in-line with Italy's National Operational Programme PON.

An OECD report from 2019 highlights that 19% of 25-64 year-olds in Italy have a tertiary education, compared with an OECD average of 37%, although tertiary attainment rates are increasing for younger generations. StudioSì is expected to increase educational and professional opportunities for students from Southern Italy, and improve enrolments in universities located in the south, as 90% of foreign students choose Northern-Italian Universities. Thus, the fund can improve the contribution of universities to regional development, with a view to strengthening economic, social and territorial cohesion, in a sustainable way.