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France

French students want more scholarships

AFP/Bertrand Guay

With the start of the new school year next week, the National Union of Students in France (UNEF) says the government is not providing enough financial aid to prospective students. With a 50 billion euro cut in the government’s public spending this year, the Union fears scholarships will diminish even further.

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The National Union of Students in France (UNEF) is alarmed by the more liberal direction of the new French government and fears that cut-backs on scholarships for students could ensue.

UNEF worries that this will further limit the number of French students that will be able to obtain a higher education, something they deem as necessary for the country to exist the economic crisis as it offers students a shield against unemployment.

Paul Bernardet is a member of the national executive of UNEF. He told RFI that only 30 percent of French students have a scholarship and even these scholarships are not enough. He explains that there are different levels of scholarships but that the maximum a student can receive per month is about 500 euro.

“Even the poorest students coming from the poorest families, the maximum they can get is 500 euro a month, and all the rest of the students are having either a lower scholarship or no scholarship at all.”

In France the system of awarding scholarships to students is mainly based on the parents’ revenue.

Bernardet says they want this to change. He says that students are studying for a longer period of time and they want to have independence from their parents.

In other European countries like Sweden and the Netherlands, every student has a right to a scholarship, irrespective of their parents’ revenue, and UNEF wants France to do the same.

The government has indicated earlier this month that they are willing to re-evaluate the level of scholarships, following a report from UNEF that student expenditure will raise by 2% this year.

Since that time the post of Minister for Education has shifted from Benoît Hamon to Najat Vallaud-Belkacem in a recent government shuffle.

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