Enrolment at Rome's pontifical universities at 16,000 in 2022

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Picture: Unsplash
Picture: Unsplash

Almost 16,000 students from 125 countries are enrolled in Rome's 22 pontifical universities and institutes. A report released Feb. 23 with statistics on the 2021-2022 academic year indicates that Rome’s pontifical system of higher education is a sample of global catholicity.

The students, among them lay, clergy and religious, come to Rome mostly to study theology, philosophy and canon law, but other disciplines are also common, such as education, social sciences and psychology.

During the press conference on the 2022 Report of the Pontifical Universities and Institutions of Rome, Father Luis Navarro, president of the association of pontifical universities and institutes, CRUIPRO, and rector of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, spoke of the importance of a stronger collaboration among the universities to promote unity and collaboration. Despite the different charisms and approaches of these universities, ultimately the knowledge acquired there addresses human needs in the world and must be rooted in reality, he said.

Challenges and opportunities

Among the challenges mentioned in the presentation of the report are the need to collaborate with secular and international academic institutions and to maintain a high quality of education, often challenged by the uneven quality of the students' academic backgrounds.

Sister Piera Silvia Ruffinatto, fma, vice president of CRUIPRO and rector of the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences Auxilium, said the future of pontifical universities lies in valuing and promoting research, integrating libraries and resources, facilitating the access of external researchers and promoting graduate degrees (licentiates and doctorates).

Rome’s pontifical universities are connected to 221 research centres and universities around the world.

Recognized and canonically instituted by the Holy See, Roman pontifical universities follow the constitution “Veritatis gaudium,” which says the defining characteristics of these institutions is that they “foster and teach sacred doctrine and the sciences connected therewith, and … have the right to confer academic degrees by the authority of the Holy See.” The oldest is the Pontifical Gregorian University, founded in 1551; the youngest is Holy Cross, founded in 1984. 

Of the 22 pontifical institutes and universities overseen and regulated by the Dicastery for Culture and Education, 15 began as an initiative of religious men and women, underlining their longtime commitment to education in Rome.

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