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University students protest reforms

Published on 28/11/2003

PARIS, Nov 27 (AFP) - Thousands of students demonstrated across France on Thursday against proposed tertiary education reforms that would change degree standards and the way universities are run.

In Paris, between 2,300 and 5,000 students, according to differing counts given by police and union organisers, gathered to denounce the modifications put forward by Education Minister Luc Ferry as a way of bringing the country’s tertiary education system into line with other EU states.

The plan calls for the current system of five university degrees to be streamlined into just three – bachelor’s, masters and doctorate – and for each establishment to have a greater say in the way they are managed.

The students, hundreds of whom also demonstrated in the central town of Tours and the southern town of Toulouse, fear the changes will weaken their qualifications, lead to higher fees and turn campuses into US-style education businesses.

Ferry, in the face of persistent action from the students and reported hesitation from President Jacques Chirac, on Wednesday ruled out ramming the measures through, but told Europe 1 radio he was certain that “by March we can find an agreement”.

University deans say only a fraction of their students are taking part in the protests. On Thursday, they unanimously adopted a motion in favour of aligning degrees to an EU standard.


                                                                Subject: French news