Ministers have put forward long-awaited reforms aimed at improving the international standing of French research, making scientific careers more attractive and promoting co-operation between the public and private sectors.
Gilles de Robien, the Minister for Education, Higher Education and Research, and Francois Goulard, the Junior Higher Education and Research Minister, submitted their "pact for research" to the consultative Economic and Social Council, which will make recommendations before the Bill goes to the Government in mid-November and to the National Assembly by the year's end. It is expected to become law in February.
But unions representing researchers this week called for meetings to analyse the text. The reform promises big rises in funding, with measures to increase doctoral grants and the number of research posts.
A new Research Evaluation Agency will set benchmarks for research staff, teams and establishments and will encourage the use of foreign experts.
The total research budget should rise to e24 billion (£16.5 billion) by 2010, up from €18.85 billion in 2004. Privatisations would provide €300 million in 2006 to set up Centres of Research and Higher Education, local initiatives and research campuses.