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Frequently Asked Questions


Am I eligible to take language courses at USI Università della Svizzera italiana? The optional Language courses offered free of charge every semester are open to fully matriculated USI students or USI professionals only. The personal data of every single online enrollment is verified in USI’s database.

Are family members admitted? As class size is an important factor in language learning it isn’t possible to admit family members, friends or students studying in other higher Institutions.

I am a SUPSI student / SUPSI professional. Can I attend USI’s Italian language courses? SUPSI students/staff may attend on a fee-paying basis provided that places are available. Contact your Department Director and/or your Departmental Secretary.


Am I guaranteed accommodation? No, USI cannot guarantee housing. It’s your own responsibility to find an accommodation. We advise to start searching for a room several months before arriving.


How much does a course cost? The cost of the pre-semester intensive courses and the semester-time language courses is included in the Università della Svizzera italiana’s tuition fees. The semester fee has to be paid before the start of the intensive language course. The courses are free for staff.

What happens if I don’t pay the tuition fee before the start of the Italian language course? You will not be able to take the free of charge language course if you don’t pay the semester fee in advance since you need the university credentials to access the material.

When do I receive the account of the university? You will receive the USI account a few days before the start of the free of charge language course if you have payed the semester university fee.


What is iCorsi? iCorsi is USI’s eLearning platform. iCorsi allows lecturers and students to manage, share and access teaching materials, to carry out anti-plagiarism checks using the Turnitin software, to manage communication between lecturers and students, and to create and conduct online examinations.

What is a Switch edu-ID and why do I need it? The edu-ID digital identity is managed for the entire Swiss academic community by SWITCH, the foundation that provides IT services to all the Swiss universities. As the general objective of Università della Svizzera italiana is to achieve environmental responsibility, the course material is available in digital versions in iCorsi3. The edu-ID digital identity allows access to the iCorsi e-learning platform. Create a personal SWITCH edu-ID account using your USI account and link it to the Università della Svizzera italiana before the start of the course.


How can I determine what my language level is? You should register for a course only if your language skills match the level of the course concerned. To determine your language proficiency, use the Self-assessment Grid of the European Language Portfolio. In addition, use the Placement test and read the entry requirements listed in the course descriptions carefully before enrolling. The USI Administration reserves the right to cancel your enrollment if your language skills differ from those listed in the course description if the corresponding level is fully booked or not offered.

Is the placement test mandatory at higher levels? Yes, it is mandatory. As all higher level classes, form A1.2 until B2.2, require knowledge of material covered in lower levels, a definitive decision about admission can be taken only after the in-person entrance test organized the first day of the course. This is a one hour test, and includes grammar exercises and, for some levels, a short listening comprehension, a writing task, a reading comprehension and an oral examination. The lecturer will send you to the correct level if offered, Attendance is however possible only in case of free places left.

Should I study for the placement test? Yes, we strongly encourage you to review all the grammar topics listed in the prerequisites for each level even though you passed the final exam of the previous level.

When am I exempted from assessment testing? All students who passed the exam at the lower level 60 hours intensive course held before the start of each semester are exempted from assessment testing and are automatically admitted in the higher level semester-time course. All other students have to take the assessment test even after successful completion of the final exam of the previous semester-time course.


How do I register? Registration is online in this website. Enrolments are accepted on a first-come first-served basis. You may request to be placed on a waiting list if the class is full.

The course schedule is not convenient for me, can I register for a higher level even though my language skills don’t match? No, register for a course only if your language skills match the level of the course concerned. The USI Administration reserves the right to cancel your enrollment if your language skills differ from those listed in the course description.

I don’t know my schedule yet, can I register for more than one time slot? No, for the good quality of the course just select one time slot for the interested level. Contact corsi.lingua@usi.ch in case of time conflict at least two weeks before the semester starts.

When is the enrolment deadline? For the good organisation of the programme, you should register only if seriously interested. Online enrolment is, in general, possible up to one week before the start date of the course but a course may be full at an earlier time, We therefore advise you to enrol as soon as possible.

When is the confirmation of enrolment sent? The online registration enrols participants automatically. A detailed informative email confirming the enrolment will be sent a few days before the beginning of each course.


What is the last day to withdraw? For the course planning, accurate data on the number of participants is very important. In case of unexpected withdrawal, it is the responsibility of the candidate to inform the administration before the start of the course by writing to corsi.lingua@usi.ch. Withdrawals are no longer possible the week immediately preceding the start of the courses, both intensive and semester-time. Last minute withdrawals in respect of intensive courses should be avoided since many activities are organised together with class-hours.

When is the admission in the Language courses denied? Withdrawals must be notified to corsi.lingua@usi.ch as soon as possible since other students may be waiting for a place to become free. All students who don’t attend the first class meeting in which the assessment test is organised and at least 20% of the total hours of the chosen level will automatically be dropped from the course and prevented from attending Language courses in the following semester, unless there are free places available.


What happens if too few registrations are received for a particular course? A minimum number of participants for each course is required to be activated. If too few people have registered, the course will be cancelled.

What happens if too many registrations are received for a particular course? The maximum number of participants per Language course is 25. Once this figure is reached, we start a waiting list. If a place on the course becomes available, the next person in line is contacted via email. Therefore it is particularly important that you register only if seriously interested and deregister from a module as soon as you realise you cannot attend it.

What happens if I don’t get a place? If you don’t get a place on a course, you can try again in a later semester or ask to be placed on a waiting list.


Is there an attendance policy? Yes, class registers are checked on a daily basis, and any absences are noted by the lecturer. You are expected to be regular and punctual in class attendance and to fully participate in the course once admitted. In order to benefit fully from the course, 100% attendance is recommended. You are responsible for completing homework and autonomous activities outside class hours every day/week. You are responsible for communicating attendance issues with your lecturers via email with as much notice as possible and to catch up independently. The minimum attendance requirement is at least 75% of the number of classes held in the academic session.

What happens if I miss the first class? Signing up for a course requires commitment for the full course.  If you fail to attend the first class of the course and do not email your reason for not attending, your name will be removed from the attendance list without notice to make space for those on the waiting list.

Late arrival due to unexpected problems. Since the entrance test is compulsory, students have to ensure early arrival in order to take the course starting from the first week. Exceptionally a new examination date may be scheduled for those students who experience delays in their arrival plans due to unexpected problems, e.g. visa application. Late arrivals must be notified as soon as possible. The latest possible access in the classes is however the 1st of October in Autumn semesters and 1st of March in Spring semesters.

What is the minimum attendance? Attendance is mandatory and the minimum attendance required to sit the end-of-course test is 75% of the course. You are automatically excluded from the course if you miss more than 3 consecutive semester-time classes or 2 consecutive intensive course days.

Is it possible to attend half the course, for instance one week instead of two weeks intensive course, or once every second week semester-time course, or one hour instead of two hours? For the good quality of the course, attending 50% of a course is not allowed. Enrol only if you can attend more than 75-80% of the course. It’s not possible to join the course after the programme starts either.

Is it possible to attend two different grammar levels in the same semester, for instance A2.1 and A2.2? No, for the good quality of the course, attending two different grammar levels in the same semester is not allowed. Only apply to the appropriate level.

Is it possible to attend the Grammar course and the Conversation course in the same semester? Yes, you are allowed to attend the “Grammar course” and the corresponding level of the “Speaking course” during the same semester to improve both abilities.


Is homework mandatory? Yes, classroom activities are complemented by asynchronous homework exercises. Consider approximately 2-3 hours of out-of-class work per week.


Will I need to take my Personal Electronic Device (PED) to class every day/week? Yes, all USI candidates must bring their own laptop or tablet to class in order to access the learning materials in iCorsi3. As there are only a few power outlets in the classroom, remember to charge your computer before coming to class. All online courses require a high-speed Internet Service Provider, a PC with Fast Processor, a webcam and a microphone.


Is registration for the final test needed from A1.1 until B1.2 level? No, when you sign up for a Language class from A1.1 until B1.2 level, you are automatically signed up for the end-of-semester exam for that semester.

Is registration for the final test needed from B2.1 level and onwards? Yes, registration is needed.

Success in the exam. The examination tests the four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. To pass the exam candidates need to achieve a minimum of 60% in grammar and a minimum average of 60% in the four skills tested.

Is the final exam mandatory? The results of the final test are strictly informative (pass or fail) and give the chance to the teaching staff to recommend subsequent courses. You don’t have to take the final exam if you are feeling unprepared since you can take the assessment test for the next level in the following semester instead, but you won’t get the course completion certificate. Remember to inform the teacher if you don’t wish to sit the end-of-course test.

When does the end-of-semester exam take place? The final exam schedule is published in iCorsi. The written in-person exam normally takes place in week 12 or 13 of the running semester. This is a two hours test divided into 3 abilities, and includes a short listening comprehension, grammar exercises, a writing task and a reading comprehension. The in-person oral examination normally takes place in week 13 or 14 of the running semester. This is a 1 hour test.

Do I have to take all the abilities of the written final test? Yes, it is imperative to take all the parts of the written final test to get the certificate of attendance and the ECTS points.

Is it imperative to take the final exam in person? Yes, unless the course is online, it is imperative to be present at USI during the exam session. Remember to bring your Personal Electronic Device (PED). As there are only a few power outlets in the classroom, remember to charge your computer before coming to class.



Am I awarded credit points for the Italian language course? No, Italian language courses do not count towards a degree at USI. Only Swiss-European Mobility Programme students (SEMP) and International Exchange students will be awarded ECTS credit points after successful completion of the course. At USI all examinations on official courses are graded on the 1 to 10 scale. For language courses the evaluation is however expressed by a binary system (Pass or Fail).

Do I get a certificate of attendance at the end of the course? Yes. You are entitled to sit the end-of-course test if you attend at least 75% of the course . If you pass the final test you obtain a course completion certificate. The attendance certificate will state your name, the level of the course and the total number of hours of the chosen level but not the assessment scores, the grades or the percentage average achieved in the final exam since language courses do not count towards a degree at USI.


1.5 ECTS:

  • Students enrolled in the new Bachelor COM: for each 56 or 60 hour French and German course. ECTS are awarded as credits in skills;
  • SEMP students for each French, German or English course of 56 or 60 hours.


  • Bachelor students in Italian Language Literature and Civilisation BLLCI: students who reach level B2 in French, German or English;
  • Bachelor COM and BLLCI: students who pass the examination of the Academic German, French and English Culture course in the 3rd year;
  • Master of Science in Digital Fashion Communication: students who pass the examination of the Academic English Writing course.



  • Master of Science in Economics and International Policies: students who pass the examination of the Academic course “English for studies in economics and international policies”;
  • Master of Science in Economics, Master of Science in Economics in Management: students who pass the English “Academic Writing” course examination.


  • BA ECO: students who pass the Academic course “English for Economist” course examination.


What does “in-person learning” mean? “In-person learning” is the instructional interaction that occurs “in person” and in real time between teachers and students in the classroom of the Campus.

Why are Language courses offered “in-person”? “In-person learning” allows you to interact with other students and with your lecturers. The best way to learn a language is through a combination of in person instruction and asynchronous learning activities using the e-learning iCorsi3 platform.

Does the University offer online language courses? USI offer an A1.1 online course each semester in the Italian language only. Online courses require a high-speed Internet Service Provider, a PC with Fast Processor, a webcam and a microphone.

May I join the course online even though the course is advertised as “in-person learning”? No, for the good quality of the course, blended language learning is not offered.

Are language courses recorded? No, for didactic reasons the courses are not recorded.


What does “Tandem language learning” or “Language exchange” mean? “Tandem language learning” is a method of language learning based on mutual language exchange between tandem partners, where each learner is a native speaker in the language the other person wants to improve. If interested add a post here: https://www.desk.usi.ch/en/language-tandems

Does USI offer a Tandem language learning exchange programme free of charge? Yes, information can be found at the following link: https://www.desk.usi.ch/en/language-tandems