Introduction by the Rector
The Strategic Plan reflects the multi-year vision of the University of Trento and the general guidelines that direct its activity; in a bottom-up approach, it considers the needs of its community and works to meet them.
The layout of the University’s Strategic Plan is inspired by the idea of connecting the design of actions to the real possibility to carry them out. The Plan is aimed at two objectives: on one hand, to maintain and consolidate the results that the University has achieved in recent years and, on the other, to explore new development opportunities in scientific areas that have so far been overlooked or at least underexplored. To this end we have focused, in particular, on three fundamental elements:
The resources framework
The extraordinary growth of our University in recent years has depended, not exclusively but to a great extent, on the special relationship with the Autonomous Province of Trento; this relationship, in very simple terms, has resulted in considerable extra resources in addition to the funding provided by MIUR, which has made it possible to open new areas of study that have obtained excellent results (cognitive science and neurosciences, biology, informatics, international studies, foreign languages and literatures, just to name a few) and to increase by 50% the number of academic staff between 2001 and the end of 2016, compared to a 2% growth in other Italian universities over the same period.
In the next five years, however, the University will not be able to count on a similar growth in funding and its development must be based on resources that will essentially be constant over time. Given the general situation of the Italian university system – which, rather than receiving increased resources, has had to face significant cuts in recent years – the University of Trento is at an advantage where, thanks to accumulated savings, it can even look at planning new buildings and infrastructure.
The Strategic Plan 2017-2021 therefore sets out to redirect the University strategy without compromising the good quality achieved in teaching and research, and to help the University grow in a financial setting that is not as positive as in pre-crisis years, by capitalizing on its assets, supporting them and pointing them towards new areas of interest. Thanks to previous investments, our University is now in a privileged position where it can count on good infrastructure and a high level of human capital: this will provide the base on which the University can build its future growth and development without needing to count on significant additional resources.
The University’s structure, in which decision-making processes are highly decentralized and the main actors receive their powers from the base (as evidenced by the procedure to elect the Rector and the Directors of Departments and Centres), means that it must design its future evolution through a highly participatory process where those who will implement the changes play a key role in their design.
Only by connecting the University’s strategic objectives with the capabilities and wishes of the University community can we accomplish the actions we have planned with the available resources.
The road to imagine and achieve strategic change must leverage on researchers’ ability to innovate, on applying their capabilities in an interdisciplinary approach, and on their support for future strategies.
Quality of research
The 2011-2014 ANVUR assessment found that the University of Trento is the Italian state university with the highest IRAS1 score, the parameter that measures the quality of research. Almost all of its departments and centres were included in the list of the 352 top departments of Italian universities (ISPD index), with 60% of them in the top 180, and all in the top 250 in Italy.
Identifying scientific areas that do not deserve to be supported in the future in the light of their achievements is impossible, or a difficult task to say the least.
The University cannot therefore opt for the criterion of scientific merit to build a strategy for a future in which financial resources are stable and which would thus be based on the downsizing of some areas to allow others to grow.
This provided the premise to build a Strategic Plan which, once the objectives, guidelines and general criteria were set, would favour proposals that were in line with them, formulated through a bottom-up approach, and therefore open to interdisciplinary and interdepartmental initiatives in the areas of teaching and learning, research, third mission, and policies to encourage talent, including outside the “borders” of each department.
That is why, in the first months of 2017, we launched a specific call to support and promote the foundation of interdepartmental laboratories, teaching coordination bodies, organizational bodies and other specific actions. Proposals for strategic projects were invited from spontaneous interdepartmental research teams and from departments and centres (through their development plan), as well as from the prorectors and the delegates I appointed to specific subject areas.
An initial selection procedure examined 62 proposals for interdisciplinary programs, based on their compliance with the University’s vision, guidelines and strategic objectives. Of these, 35 proposals continued to the second phase, where the actors involved were asked to submit further details to ensure the feasibility and the economic sustainability of the programs.
In addition, all departments and centres were required to draw up improvement plans capable of contributing to the objectives set by the University. The Academic Senate identified the improvement actions contained in these plans, including those with an operational focus, and allocated financial resources for their implementation. The specific objectives of these improvement actions have already been included in the University’s Integrated Plan 2017-2019.
The University will allocate resources for the 2017-2019 term based on the above and on the forthcoming plan for the replacement of technical and scientific infrastructures.
Our University is a community that has considerable experience to build on, and if we can work together with a positive attitude, following the course that we have outlined and carrying out the actions we have identified, we will be able to live up to the values which underlie our mission, which are our very raison d’être and a point of reference for future generations.
The University today
An international University open to people, ideas, and new knowledge, which responsibly takes on the great challenges posed by society and by the local area and participates in their development, a university that continuously strives for improvement and constantly promotes freedom of research and growth of talent to give young people the best possible opportunities
We are a University that is part of a strong network of international relations, capable of attracting students from all over the world and of supporting all its students in undertaking further studies abroad, with over 450 possible destinations. The University of Trento has chosen to stay small to be able to ensure quality of teaching and learning, research, and services as a priority, and therefore it has set admission limits for all courses to offer its students a quality university experience.
Our university is capable of attracting students from outside our province and of satisfying their expectations: graduates report that they are satisfied with their courses and in general are employed earlier and with higher salaries compared to their peers from other universities.
We are a University that succeeds in research, that participates in very competitive calls and obtains significant funding based on rigorous assessments, with a high volume of publications in prestigious journals.
We are a University whose international visibility in the scientific community is much higher than one would expect for its size.
We are a University that knows how to capitalize on its system of postgraduate studies, in particular its doctoral programmes.
Despite these very positive results, the University of Trento seeks to continue to grow and to meet the needs of the community with a positive and energetic attitude, in a context that requires increasing flexibility and a dynamic approach, identifying growth opportunities through self-supporting partnerships like the recently founded Center for Agriculture, Food and Environment (C3A-CAFE).
Its high quality of research, cutting-edge equipment, and international dimension, combined with the quality of life and the opportunities offered by the region for a pleasant and healthy lifestyle, represent an advantage for the University in terms of competitiveness and attractiveness.
While university rankings have their limitations, the University of Trento is known for being among the top positions in national rankings of Italian universities and departments, and well positioned in international rankings.
- World University Ranking 2016-2017 (Times Higher Education)
the University of Trento ranks in the 201-250 group, second among Italian universities.
- QS World University Ranking 2018
the University of Trento ranks in the 441-450 group. It is 9th among the 30 Italian universities included in the world's best 500, and gets top position among Italian universities for its international academic staff.
- Research Quality Assessment
2011-2014 VQR (Research Quality Assessment) ANVUR awards top position to the University of Trento among State universities.
- ANVUR report 2011-2016
the University of Trento obtains excellent placements in four areas: physics, biology, psychology, and political and social sciences.
- CENSIS ranking 2017-2018
the University of Trento ranks second with a final score of 99.2 points in the category of medium-sized universities (10 to 20,000 students) and in the ranking of all State universities.
- Il Sole 24 Ore Ranking
the University of Trento ranks 2nd among Italy’s top state universities