In the last decade the university system in Italy has shrank and a larger heterogeneity has emerged among universities located in different areas of the country. The Italian Mezzogiorno has been hit the most in terms of enrolled students, academic staff, financial resources, number and variety of courses offered. At the same time a large migration of students from southern to northern areas took place. In this work we investigate these issues and we disentangle the possible causes at the origin of these phenomena. We highlight, in particular, the role of new regulatory policies and the funding mechanisms based on performance indicators for the emergence of new forms of territorial disparities. We conclude that, to implement austerity plans required by the fiscal conditions in the aftermath of the crisis, the policy course taken on tertiary education is actually endangering future perspectives of most vulnerable households in less advanced regions of the country.
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