Marco Polo Program (officially Marco Polo and Turandot Program) was launched in 2006 by the CRUI, the Conference of Italian University Rectors, in response to an official request by the President of Italy.
The Program was conceived in order to increase the number of Chinese students enrolled in the Italian universities, with its first step being represented by the signing of the agreement protocol Sei Azioni per l’Università, la Ricerca e l’Innovazione between CRUI and the Italian Employers’ Federation Confindustria in 2004. The agreement specifically addressed the reinforcement of the scientific cooperation between Italy and Asia.
The concept of the Program was to create a preparatory course of Italian language and culture for Chinese students willing to enroll in any Italian university, in order to provide them with the knowledge needed to attend classes in L2.
Marco Polo Program in Pavia
Since the first step in 2006 a number of prestigious Italian universities have opened their Marco Polo Program divisions. The University of Pavia started its own Program since the very first year in March 2007, offering a top-level, ten-month full immersion teaching program with classes taught entirely in Italian by highly qualified personnel. The teaching program, which has been tested through the years, includes grammar, phonetics and speaking classes, as well as a course on Italian culture and a specific test-training course designed to help students prepare the final exams.
Prospective students are recruited throughout the year, in particular during the recruiting window open from April to August. Students willing to enroll must sign a learning agreement outlining the Marco Polo Program Policies. They are also asked to communicate well in advance the name of the Italian university at which they want to study.
At the end of the ten-month program the students are expected to take at least one of two final exams: the first exam is the CILS Certificate, level B1/B2 (Certificato di Italiano come Lingua Straniera) which is issued by the Foreigners University of Siena and administered in Pavia by the Marco Polo Program. This exam is mandatory for those students who wish to leave Pavia to get their Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree. The second exam is the Marco Polo Official Exam, level B1/B2, which is mandatory for those students who wish to enroll in Pavia. Students may decide to take both exams at their complete discretion.