The ongoing dispute between Italy's "iron lady"—education minister Letizia Moratti—and the country's university researchers has reached another low point, with postdoctoral researchers threatening to abandon their teaching duties over a proposed shake-up of the academic appointment system.

Postdoctoral researchers, who do most of the teaching in Italian universities, are furious over a draft law proposed by Moratti that would radically change the legal status of researchers and professors in an attempt to make the university system "more flexible."

Under the new scheme, postdoctoral researchers would be offered a 5-year contract renewable for only another 5 years. The proposals have already triggered a series of protests in February this year when the law was approved by the council of ministers before going to the Parliament and the Senate.

The researchers, through organizations such as the National Association of University Researchers, have now threatened to paralyze university teaching across the country unless...

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