The paper shows how the University of Florence interpreted the relative autonomy granted by the numerous reforms of the last 30 years, focusing on the three main functions of the university: teaching, research and public engagement. The continuous reforms weakened the processes of innovation introduced at the beginning of the 90s, with the experience of the Diploma, and forced the closure of many quality degree courses. The lack of financial and instrumental resources and the “autonomy without responsibility” limited the enhancement of the resources and knowledge present in the University, hindered the pursuit of strategic lines that reward structures and sectors of excellence and strengthen the weakest areas. The public engagement is still relatively marginal.
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