The scholarship reform, a major project for the Minister of Higher Education

“Illegible”, “unsuitable”, “insufficient”, “infantilizing” : student representatives do not have words hard enough to describe the system of awarding grants based on social criteria, managed since 1995 by the 26 regional centers for university and school work (Crous). Considered very technical and postponed several times in the previous five years, the reform of the bags is the first sensitive issue that Sylvie Retailleau is about to open.

A consultation is expected to begin in the first half of September, the Minister of Higher Education and Research announced at a hearing before the Senate Culture and Education Commission on 20 July. It should be implemented locally, bringing together all stakeholders, institutions, rectorates, Crous, student organizations, local authorities and the voluntary sector. “Implementation won’t be easy”said the minister, who is waiting for him “first impacts” at the beginning of the academic year 2023 e “a finalization of the reform a little later”.

Addressing the issue of scholarships means examining the living conditions of young people who have become precarious. The health crisis has revealed a stark reality: you can be a student and have no food. “If the queues at food distributions are always full, it is good that the subsidy system does not allow us to meet the needs”illustrates Eléonore Schmitt, national secretary of the student union L’Alternative.

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Granted on the basis of parents’ resources and expenses related to the characteristics of the family, the scholarships have eight levels, from the highest (5,679 euros per year) to the lowest (1,032 euros per year). In the two-year period 2020-2021, 750,000 students benefited from this financial aid (38.4% of those enrolled in courses authorized by the Ministry to receive scholarships), with an increase of over 4% in one year. For students with the lowest resources, the increase reached 7%, according to a statistic note from the ministry.

Middle classes excluded

The main complaint against them is that the scholarships partly miss the mark. The breakdown of the amounts by level generates threshold effects and in fact excludes an entire population from the middle classes. “Slight variations in parental income can, in some cases, lead to significant variations linked to the passage from one level to another.noted a senatorial mission in a report on student living conditions in July 2021. For example, an income that goes from € 22,500 per year to € 22,501 leads to a reduction in the grant of € 667, or 40% of its amount. “

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