French to tackle housing

April 23, 2004

The growing tendency of French students to study away from home rather than at their local university is putting pressure on student housing.

Traditionally, students lived with their parents while studying at their home-town university, but now they are going farther afield.

Mobility between universities is growing, while the increasing number of international students studying in France has added to the problem.

Accommodation is provided for 300,000 higher education students out of a total of 2.5 million.

A commission headed by MP Jean-Paul Anciaux found that 59 per cent of students live away from home, with the consequence that 1.3 million students need accommodation.

While there are places for some in student residences - half of which are provided by regional student support centres (Crous) - about 1 million have to look for housing on the open market.

Mr Anciaux said there would be collaboration between the ministries of housing and education, student organisations, regional authorities and the construction industry to tackle the problem.

Luc Ferry, the former education minister, has already announced measures to rectify the crisis, including a ten-year programme to build 50,000 units and renovate 70,000 others.

Shortly before the reshuffle in which he lost his job, Mr Ferry accepted the report's recommendations that building and renovation programmes should be accelerated, and that the responsibilities of those involved in providing student housing should be redefined.

He said the state was committed to an annual investment of €00 million (£67 million), plus €165 million of assisted loans to Crous.

The private sector will be encouraged to take part by offering homeowners incentives to let out rooms, for example.

Other proposals include introducing a frame of reference specifying minimum standards and appropriate rents, streamlining the deposit guarantee system for students on grants, and discounting the income of students who take part-time paid jobs when assessing their eligibility for housing benefit.

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