The performance of single universities, beyond internal determinants, is influenced by the conditions of their own territorial context, that is by a number of factors related to their local geographical area, meant as a space of territorial interactions, measurable by its previous relational dynamics. This set of factors can, directly or indirectly, affect both the organizational structure and strategic orientations of the single university, as well as the results achieved by it in the field of education and research.Through a multi-dimensional statistical model, the evaluation criteria for university performance will be compared to some territorial variables which, in scientific literature, are considered to be indexes of territorial competitiveness. The statistical model aims at measuring the impact local context has on the competitive performance of universities, explaining the nature and intensity of this relationship. With reference to the objectives of the research, data we will use refer to two different sets of indicators: on the one hand, data used to evaluate university performance, on the other hand, the ones used to measure territorial competitiveness. In more detail, university performance is based on some of the indicators used by the CENSIS in the "University Ranking 2010" referring to the following databases: MIUR-Statistical Office; CINECA; CNVSU; National LLP Agency Italy; CRUI; CORDIS. Territorial data, instead, are extracted from the "Atlas of the Provinces and Regions competitiveness” elaborated by UNIONCAMERE. For both sets of indicators, the analysis will refer to the year 2008.If the indicators of university performance are correlated to territorial conditions, they don’t really measure university productivity/competitiveness, but rather the competitiveness of its territorial context. This can lead to some distortions in the financial resources allocation and, more generally, in national supporting policies to public universities.In their conclusions, authors also tend to reverse the perspective through which the role of government intervention has been traditionally interpreted. If universities are qualifying elements of territorial competitiveness – as it is shown by the fact that they are frequently used within the set of indicators to measure it – the strengthening of university system should be one of the priority objectives of regional development policies. Consequently, national government should invest in university education and research, even where university performance, due to some specific local conditions, is not satisfactory or even below fixed national or international standards.