On 16 October 2023, the Italian Government announced the outlines for the 2024 provisional budget. It stipulates a significant increase in enrolment costs for the National Italian Health System for non-EU residents without formal employment: the annual contribution will increase from 149€ to 700€ per year for doctoral candidates and from 1,200€ to 2,000€ for postdocs, respectively.
On behalf of Eurodoc, the administrative board 2023/2024 expresses its concerns in a new statement “To increase public health system fees for non-EU citizens further hinders Italy's ability to attract internationally mobile researchers.”
We have therefore invited our Italian delegate Fillipo Andrei for a two-question interview. Filippo represents the Italian member organisation of Eurodoc ADI (ADI - Associazione Dottorandi e Dottori di Ricerca in Italia) which is an independent, voluntary association with over 30 branches in Italy that promotes the interests of doctoral candidates, postdocs, and other early career researchers. Below, Filippo explains why ADI is concerned about this issues and why it is also important for ADI to raise awareness on a European level.
Could you please describe the issue and what ADI sees as the main issue regarding the new for Doctoral Candidates and Postdocs
The Italian government’s preliminary 2024 budget provides for a significant increase in enrolment fees for the Italian national healthcare system, which applies to non-EU citizens. Specifically, the annual contribution for doctoral students will rise from €149 to €700, and for postdocs from €1,200 to €2,000, corresponding respectively to a 370% and 67% increase.
The proposed increase in fees for the enrolment poses a serious threat of creating barriers for individuals and hindering their access to vital healthcare services — a stance the ADI vehemently opposes. ADI is very concerned about this scenario and expects that it will lead to a significant increase in financial uncertainty for early career researchers in Italy.
As highlighted in the 10th ADI PhD survey, international researchers already face various challenges related to residence permit renewal and access to healthcare services. These obstacles, often due to bureaucratic and language issues, are compounded by inadequate support from university offices. At a time when inflation is weakening the purchasing power of already modest scholarships for doctoral students and research grants, ADI believes that this measure represents an additional obstacle to the internationalisation efforts of Italian universities.
Why is it important for ADI that Eurodoc also address the issue?
ADI collaboration with Eurodoc to raise awareness of increased enrolment fees in the healthcare sector is important for several reasons. The problem, which also affects non-EU citizens, goes beyond Italy. By partnering with Eurodoc, ADI can address common challenges faced by international PhD students and early career researchers, creating a common front for advocacy. Furthermore, it is important to raise awareness at a European level of the negative effects of radical nationalist policies.
Ultimately, the collaboration allows ADI to contribute to a collective effort and use the Eurodoc platform to amplify its voice and advocate for policies that improve the well-being and access to healthcare for doctoral and postdoctoral researchers across Europe.
- Fillipo Andrei, 0000-0002-1097-3477