French students protest President Macron’s higher education reforms
Students protest against Macron's university reform in front of the gate of the Jussieu campus in Paris, France, April 10, 2018. Source: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Students across France have been staging protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed education reforms, which would introduce tougher entry requirements for the country’s universities.

Macron has proposed to tighten the selection process for those entering French universities, while at present all French high school graduates are guaranteed a public university place regardless of their grades.

The government hopes to overhaul an ailing university system, which international students have previously voted the worst in Europe. France has pledged to invest almost a billion euros into higher education over the next five years.

But local students and faculty members aren’t happy with a perceived change to France’s “education for all” ethos. Students have been staging protests which has disrupted classes at around 12 institutions for weeks, reported The Guardian.

French President Emmanuel Macron waves from his car as he leaves after being interviewed on French news channel TF1, at a school in Berd’huis, France, April 12, 2018. Source: Yoan Valat/Pool via Reuters

“The reform introduced the fact that the criteria used to select students is going to be based on the marks of their last years of high school, on their motivation and teacher’s opinions, and not at all on the baccalaureat,” said Lyon 2 University political science lecturer Professor David Garibay, as quoted by Euronews.

“Some of my colleagues were against the reform from the start, others were rather convinced but they’ve started to realise that they’ve got limited manoeuvring space and that they can’t do much.”

“I’ve got an essay on medieval literature in my bag and I’ll try to finish it in spare moments,” a student from Sorbonne University told The Guardian. “We’re not slackers. We’re just standing up against Macron’s changes to the university admission process.”

Despite the protests, Macron has insisted that France will proceed with the reforms. “We will continue because the world around us is speeding up, going through great changes, and because our country must be able to choose its destiny and live better,” he said.

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