Monday, February 2, 2009

University Strikes

Academics throughout France will be going on strike this week, suspending courses, withholding grades, and taking other actions to protest the Pécresse reforms. I am not so foolhardy as to attempt to evaluate the competing claims as to whether the proposed reforms will help the university to "adapt" to society's changing requirements or, on the contrary, destroy a system that, despite its flaws, is functioning, according to its supporters, tolerably well given the intolerable failure of the government to support it with all necessary means. Here is a manifesto from the protesters. Here is a critique of the reforms by Nobel physicist Albert Fert and other distinguished colleagues. And here is a defense of the reforms by several university presidents.

I would appreciate hearing the points of view of French academics who know the system from inside. Comments can of course be posted anonymously by those who prefer. It is of course one thing to say that the system is clearly in need of reform, which I believe is the case. It is another to say that this reform will do more good than harm. I invite comment on either assertion.

2 comments:

MYOS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MYOS said...

I can't speak for academics, but I do know that a system where the odds of finding a job at a university go from 1 if you haven't graduated from it to 50 if you have (1:50 ratio) has a serious problem.
Also, when a mass influx of new students got to American universities after the GIBill was passed, the US made a financial commitment - France does not seem to be willing to, able to, or interested in committing much money to its universities. I went to a campus once and it looked decrepit and overcrowded. (Somehow, I suspect all the money is not being poured into faculty salaries :p)
Sorry for not being able to contribute more but I hope that seeing "one comment" at the bottom of the post will encourage actual academics to post.
I am very interested in their answer.
(Thank you, Art, for opening the discussion on this).
I did find this on Mediapart -- if you haven"t done so yet, go and subscribe, it's worth the cost. :-)
http://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/030209/universites-voter-la-greve-a-la-sorbonne-c-est-tout-un-symbole