Survey exposes financial burden of French higher education

Despite country’s reputation for egalitarian access, survey finds affordability is a struggle for some

May 23, 2018
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French families have to spend more than €7,000 (£6,146) a year to finance a child through higher education – even turning to credit – despite the country’s relatively low tuition fees, a survey has found.

Fees cost families on average €1,897 a year per child, but other costs such as housing, food and transportation mean average expenses of €7,118 annually, according to the research, which was commissioned by a credit company, Cofidis.

Business schools were the most expensive option – at €10,735 a year – while universities were somewhat cheaper, at €6,473, reports Le Monde.

Study in Paris was particularly expensive, costing families about €4,000 in housing expenses alone per year.

The results raise questions over whether all youngsters have equal access to higher education in France – the issue animating protests and sit-ins at universities throughout the country against government reforms to make admission more selective.

While the government believes that changes are necessary to make sure students are better prepared for their courses and so less likely to drop out, opponents believe that they will widen social inequality as less privileged youngsters find it harder to navigate a more selective system.

Fourteen per cent of families on lower incomes – defined as below €4,500 a month – have to use consumer credit to help finance their children through higher education, the survey found. Nearly nine in 10 of all respondents have to use their savings to help cope, it also discovered.

More than half of families say that they have to make sacrifices to help their children get through higher education, such as putting off or abandoning purchases.

The results draw on a survey of about 500 French parents with children in higher education.

david.matthews@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

Still a lot cheaper than in Blighty and the French are on average a lot richer than the British.

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