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Top Italian Universities Close Doors To Students Who Don't Speak English



VENICE- You no speeka the English? Well then, signori, you will not be welcome at Italy's prestigious Ca’ Foscari and Bocconi universities.

La Stampa reports that Ca" Foscari, a 145-year-old public university in Venice, and Bocconi, the private Milan business and economics university, are requiring that all students enrolling for the next academic year to attest to their knowledge of English. The level must be at least equivalent of the European Union’s B1 (intermediate).

This follows the decision last year by Milan's Politecnico University to offer master's studies only in English. Italy's Minister for Higher Education Francesco Profumo stated then that students upon leaving high school should already have a workable level of English. But others expressed alarm at the measure. Linguist Luca Serianni from Rome’s La Sapienza University described the move as “excessive and not only in the ideological sense.”

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Arts & Philosophy Building at Ca" Foscari, Venice by Paolo Steffan

But Ca’ Foscari President Carlo Carraro says knowing English is a priority "in all fields, all professions. If you don’t know English you’re out. It’s also a question of culture: English is a language of connection.”

A criteria for which universities are allocated new resources is its internationalization. Ca’ Foscari university has had an increase of 30% in matriculation in just two years, so the mantra now is quality, not quantity. This new certification is just an additional filter during a period in which new staff cannot be hired, and the old staff can’t retire.

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Tea Be Damned! Inside The Massive Starbucks Bet On China's Shift To Coffee

A gigantic and multi-faceted new location near Shanghai epitomizes the American giant's ambition to quench China's growing but still-nascent thirst for coffee.

Photo of a Starbucks coffee shop in China

Starbucks coffee in Yangshuo, China

Frédéric Schaeffer

Updated Dec. 7, 2023 at 4:05 p.m.

SHANGHAI — The town of Kunshan, an hour's drive from Shanghai, is the launchpad of Starbucks's latest Chinese offensive. In mid-September, the American giant inaugurated an 80,000 square meter site that includes a roasting plant, an integrated distribution centre, and an immersive experience centre.

Grandly named as the "China Coffee Innovation Park", this $220 million project is the Seattle-headquartered company's biggest investment outside the United States. And the Kunshan model of vertical integration, from bean to cup, has no equivalent anywhere else in the world for the Starbucks group.

The site is a symbol of Starbucks’s hefty ambitions in China – it plans to open a location in the country every nine hours between now and 2025. The aim is to have more than 9,000 shops in 300 Chinese cities by then, compared with 6,500 today. "The 9,000 stores are just a milestone", said Laxman Narasimhan, the company's new boss, who rushed to China at the end of May in the wake of his appointment.

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Is the competition getting tougher? Has the end of the China’s "Zero-COVID" policy failed to deliver on its promise of an economic rebound? Is Washington pushing its multinationals to reduce their dependence on China?

Starbucks doesn't care. In the land of tea-drinkers, coffee is enjoying a meteoric rise, becoming a trendy drink for a young, urban middle class sensitive to Western influences.

The China focus comes amid news this week that McDonalds is launching a new kind of cafe-restaurant: CosMc's, which could be a direct competitor worldwide to Starbucks, serving customizable drinks like "s'mores and cold brew", "churro frappes", and "tumeric latte."

Some 10,000 CosMc locations are planned for opening over the next four years, with Starbucks expanding to 55,000 stores worldwide by 2030.

All of this speaks to coffee fever globally, which really began in China just a decade ago, and now registering double-digit growth rates that have manufacturers salivating.

"We expect China to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest market we have in the world," Narasimhan predicts.

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