Understanding the stumbling blocks of Italian higher education system: A process mining approach

Claudia Diamantini, Laura Genga, Alex Mircoli (Corresponding author), Domenico Potena, Nicola Zannone

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Nowadays universities strive to continuously enhance their educational programs to improve both the quality and quantity of their graduates. This is a sensitive problem, especially for Italian universities where only 30% of the students enrolled at the university succeed in graduating within a year after the normal duration of the study plan. Over the last few years, the Italian Ministry of University and Education has introduced several indicators to assess students’ careers and help universities identify possible criticality in their study programs. However, these indicators only provide a high-level overview of the graduation process without providing insights into students’ failure. To address this issue, in this work, we propose to model a study program as a process and exploit process analysis techniques to assess students’ performance. These techniques allow delving into students’ careers, thus enabling the investigation of their failures and delays. The findings obtained by applying our approach to the Bachelor program of an Italian university allowed us to determine common bottlenecks that seem to have an impact on students’ graduation time. Moreover, we were able to determine and compare the career paths of successful and late students. The insights gathered by our analysis can be used to support university personnel in delving into factors causing some exams to be a bottleneck, as well as to determine potential improvements in the overall curricula.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122747
Number of pages11
JournalExpert Systems with Applications
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2024

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 The Author(s)


  • Educational data mining
  • Heuristic miner
  • Process mining
  • Student career


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