French radicalism of 1968 replaced by cash concerns

May 9, 2003

Student confidence in the value of university diplomas has plummeted in the past three years to its lowest level for more than a quarter of a century, according to a survey that also reveals that French students are less politically active than those of previous generations.

The poll of 600 university students carried out by the Institut BVA for the newspaper Libération shows that only 52 per cent of students believe their qualifications help them find work when they graduate, compared with 70 per cent in 2000. It was the lowest score since 1976, when it was 47 per cent.

The survey also confirms that students are less active in unions or politics than their predecessors. Libération observed there had been no significant movements since 1995. Most students had little idea of what their union stands for.

They are also largely indifferent to the new education minister, Luc Ferry, who is in charge of introducing the European degree system. Although it is one of France's most important higher education reforms since 1968, it has provoked only limited protests at a few universities. About a third each of the students polled approve of Mr Ferry's actions, while a third disapprove. Thirty-six per cent are undecided or do not know what Mr Ferry's policies are.

The survey found that financial problems were students' greatest worry, but 72 per cent opposed increasing fees to give more financial help to poor students.

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