France to review student scholarships amid rising costs
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The French government announced on Sunday a modest revaluation for scholarships for university students after the National Union of Students in France (UNEF) published a survey revealing that costs for student living rose four times faster than inflation over the past year.
The UNEF’s survey found a 2% increase due to rising rents and increased mandatory costs such as registration fees and social security, upping the costs for student life at a faster pase than inflation.
The union also criticised the fact that 640,000 students will feel the effects of frozen bursaries until October 2015, as outlined by the economic measures taken by the government in April.
“With 799 euros per month spent on average for students not living at home, the cost of education has become increasingly difficult for families to bear,” said the UNEF. “The budget for a student accounted for 43% of the median income in 2011, and reached 48% in 2014.”
The rise in costs has also forced more students to take up full-time employment, from 18.5 to 29.6% between 2006 and 2014, the survey found.
As a result, the union is demanding that bursaries starting in September match this uptick in living costs and that 200 million euros is unblocked to help ease student living costs.
The French government has swiftly responded to the concerns of the union.
On Sunday, the Minister of Education Benoît Hamon and Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research Genevieve Fioraso promised a revaluation of all scholarships based one’s economic situation up to 0.7% in September 2014, which is higher than France’s current 0.5% inflation rate.
"This is a strong decision in favor of the purchasing power for students," the ministers said in a statement. "In total, this is 458 million euros of additional investments, to be made over three years, by the government for student grants based on social criteria.”
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