The tone is serious when Guillaume Gellé, boss of the France Universités association, which brings together university presidents, speaks to the deputies of the cultural affairs and education committee, who question him about the conditions back to school, September 27. “What would we say if, for budgetary reasons, universities were forced to train fewer doctors when there is already a severe shortage of them? To train fewer engineers and technicians, when we know the immense needs of the industry? »
Rarely has the start of the university year been so abrupt. At the beginning of September, the leaders of the 74 French universities suffered a full-blown attack from Emmanuel Macron, who, outright, during an exchange with YouTuber Hugo Travers, affirmed that there was no “no problem of means” in public higher education. The heads of establishments are, in fact, only poor managers, who are also not very capable of changing the training offer and ensuring the professional integration of students.
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At the same time, the Minister of Higher Education, Sylvie Retailleau, ordered university presidents to free up some 1 billion euros from their working capital.“sleeping public money” in order to finance the majority of the measures in favor of the purchasing power of civil servants, decided in July by his colleague in charge of the civil service, Stanislas Guerini. Except that the sums held in these working funds are already largely pledged as part of multi-year investment projects for the energy renovation of buildings or the purchase of research equipment.
Decrease in spending per student
At Sorbonne University, the budget managed by Nathalie Drach-Temam reaches 800 million euros, “i.e. the budget of the city of Strasbourg”she illustrates. “We have multi-year investment plans to be able to develop large research platforms, financed in several installments, cumulatively, which proves that we are good managers! », the president justifies herself. Also, looking at a given moment to see what is left in working capital is insignificant in his eyes. “No private structure would stop at the budget available at any given time”she decides.
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When will the dialogue of the deaf tinged with distrust between the government and the university community end? “We are left to wonder if France likes its universities and the answer is perhaps noconsiders Alain Fuchs, president of the University of Paris Sciences et Lettres. They are not the most prestigious place to study, this position is very specific to our country. We are fighting to be recognized as institutions that train the future elite, as close as possible to research, as universities do all over the world! »
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