France sifts the hard-up from the hype

June 16, 2000

A report commissioned to review the numbers of poor students reveals there are more than 20,000 living in severe poverty and thousands more who have to work to make ends meet.

The report, the second on student poverty in three months, has been submitted to the new education minister Jack Lang and the committee overseeing the new students' social plan. It was commissioned by Mr Lang's predecessor, Claude All gre, to quash claims made in February that there were 100,000 poor students, about 5 per cent of the total. The latest estimate places numbers living below the poverty line at about 23,000 - 1.3 per cent - but this low proportion is qualified by the finding that 70,000 are "forced to work".

The new report, Students in Difficulty, Poverty and Insecurity, is based on research led by Claude Grignon, sociologist and chairman of the scientific committee of the Observatory of Student Life (OVE). It used information from two inquiries carried out in 1994 and 1997, in each of which more than ,000 students were questioned about their financial circumstances.

Students' resources are difficult to measure, says the OVE report, and simply considering monthly income is insufficient - for example, four out of ten students live all or part of the year at home, where they get free services such as laundry and use of household facilities.

Indications of hardship included overdrafts, cutting expenditure and loans from family or friends, but OVE found "without doubt the most revealing" were exceptional requests for financial help from sources such as the University Solidarity Fund.

It also associates financial insecurity with students who had to work to pay their way through university. While most did not have to take regular employment, the report notes that those who did were limited in their choice of studies. "Those who must work are in practice excluded from certain of the most prestigious and restrictive courses," it states.

A study by Jean-Francis Dauriac of student welfare agency Creteil Crous, which was published in February, estimated there were 100,000 poor students.

But education ministry officials contested the number said to be below the poverty line and Mr All gre commissioned OVE's report to counter Mr Dauriac's findings.

Although Professor Grignon concluded that the proportion of poor students was "much lower than some figures - 10 per cent, or more - which have recklessly been put forward", he pointed out that "if students are rarely very poor, it is because very poor people rarely become students".

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

Cricket player and umpire exchanging bribe

The need to accommodate foreign students undermines domestic practices, says Lincoln Allison, spying parallels between UK universities and global sports bodies such as Fifa