“Dear Philip, you are great. People like you should be cloned,” was just one of scores of messages posted on the Facebook page of Florence-based tax lawyer Philip Laroma Jezzi.
A hashtag that translates as #riggedexams was one of the top trending subjects on Twitter following reports that the English-born academic and lawyer had gone to police after being put under pressure to withdraw his application for a professorship to make way for a less qualified applicant.
That was during the 2012-13 academic year and a lengthy investigation culminated this week in the arrest of seven academics, the suspension of 22 others and a total of 59 under investigation for involvement in ensuring valuable qualifications went to the best-connected candidates rather than the best-qualified.
In one secretly-recorded conversation, Laroma Jezzi protests about the corruption only to be warned that he will risk his career if he protests.
“Stop doing things the English way and do them the Italian way,” he is told by one of the “baroni” (barons), as heads of university departments are known, according to transcripts published by daily La Repubblica.
Education Minister Valeria Fedeli said the government would bring forward proposals next month for an anti-nepotism code of conduct for higher education.