Towards a paying university? Emmanuel Macron calls for a “systemic transformation”

Pixabay Will the university become chargeable? Three months before the presidential election, Emmanuel Macron wished Thursday 25 January a “systemic” reform of universities, which he wants to be more “professionalizing”, while deeming a system of higher education “without any price” untenable for students but with a massive failure rate. “I recognize it bluntly, we have started to plug the gaps, but we must redouble our efforts so that, on the horizon of ten years, our university is stronger”, he declared, closing in videoconference the Congress of the Conference of University Presidents.

He also denounced the “intolerable mess” of failure in the first year, where “alone 54% of students show up for exams”, despite the injection of new means and the creation of 54.000 places. According to him, it is therefore not a question of means. “We will not be able to remain permanently in a system where

higher education has no price for almost all students, where a third of students are considered scholarship holders and yet where we have so much student precariousness, and a difficulty to finance a model much more financed by public money than anywhere in the world”, he argued.

Guiding young people towards employment

“I say things with the clarity and frankness that you know me because “if we don’t address these structural issues, we would be lying to ourselves,” he continued. And to continue: “We need a systemic transformation of our universities”. These must, according to him, have more autonomy but the State will have to sign with them “real contracts of objectives and means”. In particular “universities must no longer only guarantee the reception of students in training but guarantee the orientation of young people towards employment”.

“The university must become more effectively professionalizing”, further wished The head of state : “the logic of supply must take precedence over the logic of demand”, or even, “the orientation must evolve to better correspond to the needs of the nation”. “When we open sectors without perspective behind, we lead an investment at a loss”, he said, after recalling the new means – 25 billion euros over 5 years – of the law of research programming, “a catch-up” in his eyes.

Multi-speed model

Manuel Tunon de Lara, president of the Conference of University Presidents, renamed France Universities, asked him for a greater autonomy of establishments but also funding for higher education “at the height of our ambitions”. In addition, the Head of State called into question the dual system of Grandes Ecoles-Universities.

“We have too long accepted a multi-speed model, where the big schools and research organizations were supposed to take care of the training of the elites and the university of the democratization of higher education and the management of the masses. This system is over,” he said. “Tomorrow it will be our universities which must be the pillars of excellence”.

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