French students protest higher education reform

12.05.2018, Paris.

Law and Political Sciences Department students at Paris Nanterre University (Paris 10) could not reach the place where their exams were supposed to take place because it was blocked by the students’ trade union, AFP reported on May 11.

The exams scheduled for May 11 and 12 were cancelled. Earlier, on May 10th Grenoble University rescheduled its exams. But in general, the student movement is growing smaller, media believes. The Ministry reported only about two universities being blocked (Rennes 2 and Nanterre universities) and five experiencing unrest (Limoges, Nantes, Marseille, Sorbonne, and Paris 8 universities) as of May 10.

Nanterre university continues to be in the list of the universities fully blocked by the reform opponents, who blame the reform of creating a nontransparent enrollment system.

France has been paralyzed by students’ unrest since March 2018 following the adoption of a new higher education law, which Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation called the “Orientation and Success Bill” (“Orientation et réussite des étudiants”).

French system of higher education provides that students can enroll based on the results of their high school exams with no entry exams being passed (except for higher engineering schools ). As a result, the competition to some universities has risen to such a degree that these universities have no physical capacity to enroll everyone who applies. But the real competition happens at the first year of education exams filtering about 60 percent of the students out.

At the same time, graduates of other departments cannot find a job. Accordingly, these departments are viewed as less popular.

The new bill provides selection based on the student’s profile at Parcoursup system registering all school records of a student. Students having more or less equal quantitative results are then being evaluated under subjective criteria. The enrollment committee has to evaluate self-assessment, motivation, and professional experience of a student (reports on internships, acquaintances in the field of profession).

Education professionals say that this practice can lead to increased social inaccessibility of a number of professions to low-status families existing in a quite strong estates system on top of everything.

University rectors also challenge the “Orientation and Success Bill”. They call it immature and failing to address the problems of education, and refuse to perform segregation of this sort due to the lack of time, assets and ideological uncertainty. The Poitiers, Rouen, Lyon 2, Bordeaux, Michel de Montaigne and Pau universities made this decision. “Other means are required to create a bill of such a scale to positively respond to a number of problems,” head of the Le Mans university Rachid El Guerjouma thinks.

Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency

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