Rome, Oct 7 (IANS/AKI) Italy's national anti-corruption chief Raffaele Cantone on Friday vowed to wage war on nepotism, cronyism and graft in the country's universities.
"We are going to tackle this problem head-on and involve the Ministry of Education, universities and research, university rectors, faculty and students," Cantone told Italian daily La Repubblica in an interview.
While investment is also a key issue, the scourge of nepotism and a system of patronage exploited by well-connected and corrupt academics known as 'barons' must be "relegated to the past", Cantone said.
"Introducing meritocracy and transparency and wiping out nepotism and the 'barons' is surely the best way to burnish the image, credibility and prestige of Italy's universities," he said.
"And in this way we may convince the government and parliament to earmark more funds for higher education," he said.
A series of "concrete" proposals for universities will feature in the national anti-corruption authority's programme of work for 2017, Cantone told La Repubblica.
"We don't need new (anti-graft) laws but want those that already exist to be applied rigorously to ensure maximum transparency in the vital choices made by the academic community in the interests of Italy."
Only a small handful of Italian universities currently rank among the world's top higher education institutions.
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