French welcome autonomy

April 4, 2003

French education minister Luc Ferry has promised universities more autonomy under the government's decentralisation plans.

He told university presidents that he did not intend to transfer their responsibilities to regional authorities, as some had feared. Instead, there will be a shift towards greater autonomy for universities.

Mr Ferry was outlining his reforms at the annual meeting of the Conférence des Présidents d'Université, the body that brings together university heads.

He said that his parliamentary bill, to be introduced in early summer, would focus on four themes:

  • Giving universities greater freedom in matters such as negotiating public-works contracts, changing regulations covering the governing board and removing systematic state intervention in university decisions
  • Opening universities to regional authorities through voluntary agreements and partnerships covering areas such as development of research
  • Strengthening the powers of teams supporting university presidents and improving democratic functioning, including a new system of electing vice-presidents, which will include students. Steps towards granting universities responsibility for managing budgets, including salaries
  • Improving evaluation of universities.

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