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France's elite schools: bastions of privilege?

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Ecoles des Mines, end of the 19th century
Ecoles des Mines, end of the 19th century Wikipedia

We visit the grandes écoles, France’s prestigious higher education institutions which train the country’s elite, running as a parallel system to French universities. The government wants to see more grant-aided students in these schools – asking for targets of 30 per cent of each school’s student body, in an attempt to diversify what critics say is a closed circle. 


The schools say they agree but some of them argue that any affirmative-action-style quota would inevitably lead to a drop in standards. Although the schools’ position won some support, the overwhelming response was critical. The government says it is not suggesting obligatory quotas – so why is there an argument? And since everybody agrees that there is a problem, where is the solution?

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