This article examines some legal and pedagogical encyclopaedic items. The items were published in the early years of the twentieth century, and they were devoted to Italian university. This coherent corpus of texts highlights the general characteristics of the Italian university system fifty years after the birth of the Italian national state, also with reference to the international framework of higher education. The general assessment proposed by those qualified observers had many critical points, around which several prospects for an university reform took shape. The constraints imposed by the encyclopedic media did not conceal the strong political implications of public discourse on the university. The Italian university system was born from the combination of very different university experiences; it had gradually gained its recognizable appearance. The encyclopaedic items examined in this article expressed a general awareness of the institutional consolidation of the Italian university system.
Keywords: University, Italy, XIX-XX centuries, encyclopaedias, national models, public law