French contest Bologna reforms

November 5, 2004

French universities' exclusive right to award masters diplomas to trainee lawyers could end in the move to the European degree structure under the Bologna Process, law faculty heads and teachers fear.

They believe that the 2002 reform introducing the system, known in France as LMD - licence (equivalent to bachelors), masters and doctorate - would allow business schools and the Paris-based Institute of Political Studies, Sciences Po, to create their own law degrees.

Critics of the move claim this would result in unfair competition between universities - whose fees are fixed and low and which must admit any applicant with a Baccalauréat - and elite schools, which can select students and charge higher fees.

Law faculty deans and directors warn that if prestigious business schools open law faculties, others will follow, headhunting the limited number of law teachers and taking the brightest students from universities.

Francois Fillon, the Education Minister, has said that only universities would award law diplomas, according to a ministry source.

A national meeting of law academics will take place this month.

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