This paper aims at stimulating the debate on the likely revision of the Italian system of university student grants, with particular attention to the possible solutions capable of promoting a more meritocratic system. After a survey of the current legislation on the students’ right to education and of the role of State and Regions on this subject, a statistical analysis is performed on a sample of 1,413 students belonging to three cohorts of freshmen enrolled in the BA programme at the University of Pavia in the academic years 2002/2003, 2003/2004 and 2004/2005. A first result of the analysis is that the high school degree grade is a good predictor of the probability of maintaining the grant for the first year (on the basis of current criteria), as well as for the whole three-year cycle of studies. The high school grade is also a good predictor of the probability of getting the BA degree in regular time and with a high mark (99/110 or more). Consequently, we argue that policy makers should consider the hypothesis of re-introducing the high school degree grade as a criterion for selecting freshmen eligible for grants. We also assess the hypothesis of establishing more restrictive merit criteria for obtaining university scholarships. The analysis proposes some solutions tions capable of stimulating students to obtain better results, while at the same time maintaining a good number of students eligible for grants.
Keywords: Right to education, university student grants, high school degree grade, merit
Jel Code: H52, I22, I28