Since December 2010, as a result of the reform initiated by Act 21, n. 508, December 1999, L’Istituto Superiore di Studi Musicali Vincenzo Bellini di Catania completed the process of approval as a European university level institution, and became integrated into the European Higher Education Area.
The inter-governmental agreement for the establishment of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) was formally signed at the Inter-ministerial conference at Budapest and Vienna in March 2010. The initiative was launched under the title of Bologna Process during the Conference of Ministers of Higher Education, which took place in Bologna in June 1999and is based on an idea developed in 1998 by ministers of Italy, France, Germany and United Kingdom. Today, this agreement extends beyond the European Union and has a current membership of 47 countries. The objective of the agreement is to generate quality in education, economic development and social cohesion, considering teachers and students as members of one single European academic community and encouraging the free movement and engagement in international collaboration, both within the European system and with other higher education institutions in other parts of the world.
The Conservatory of Catania, in line with the principles that have driven the Europe Agreement, has drawn up a plan for modernization and internationalization based on the operational guidelines set out by the European Commission under the Europe 2020 strategic plan. In addition, the Bellini follows closely and participates in the quality assurance discussions that take place within the AEC - Association Européenne des Conservatoires, of which it has been an effective member since 2004.
The Conservatorio Bellini offers a broad educational provision which includes most of the musical courses that exist within Europe at university level:
- A three-year first degree level academic course (at the end of which a Bachelor's degree is awarded) related to the study of musical composition, opera singing, musical instruments, classical (Piano, Harpsichord, Organ, Percussion, Harp, Guitar, Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Trumpet, Trombone), and disciplines related to the Department of New Technologies and jazz (electronic music and jazz);
- A two-year academic degree (at the end of which a Master's degree is awarded) related to the study of musical composition, electronic music, opera singing, musical instruments, classical (Piano, Harpsichord, Organ, Percussion, Harp, Guitar, Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Trumpet, Trombone);
- Within the area of teacher training, there is a three-year first academic degree course in Music Education and a two-year second level degree for the training of teachers of musical instruments.
Alongside the university level programmes, the Institute also offers the Bellini Musical Training Foundation for students attending middle school and high school, who aspire to gaining musical skills at a senior professional level at an early age and wish to enrol onto the three-year academic courses mentioned above in order to continue their musical studies. Also in this case, the Institute offers the widest choice to students (alongside composition and singing, it is also possible to study all classical musical instruments).
Today, the composition of the student body has reached the rational and sustainable programme objective of 60% of students enrolled at academic level courses and 40% of students attending the "nursery" pre-academic music courses.
Artistic production is tightly linked and is a natural outlet for the training activities in the field of music, thus Conservatory Bellini in Catania annually produces dozens of shows involving all the musical groups formed by the students, with the support and supervision of the teacher.