EPOG+ - Economic POlicies for the Global transition - Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree

  • Higher education: call for an international movement against neoliberal reforms

    Message from a group of EPOG alumni involved in the strike in France, and calling for an international movement against neoliberal reforms.

    French Uni­ver­si­ties are under attack. While we are already under­fund­ed and sub­merged in work, the French gov­erne­ment is imple­ment­ing a new ‘reform’ wors­en­ing the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. It aims to increase the com­pe­ti­tion for grants between research teams, dis­ci­pline the pub­lic research com­mu­ni­ty to get it to work on spe­cif­ic top­ics, and get rid of the legal frame­work garan­tee­ing job sta­bil­i­ty and stip­u­lat­ing the teach­ing hours. Although the main­stream media hard­ly cov­er them, strikes have begun in many French universities.

    We know that you have expe­ri­enced the same pres­sures and are fight­ing against the same evils. Our fights would be hard­er to ignore if they were adressed as an inter­na­tion­al issue. In France, the 5th of march will be a nation­al “dead uni­ver­si­ty” day. What about an inter­na­tion­al “dead uni­ver­si­ty” day soon…?

    • List of inter­na­tion­al resis­tances (to be com­plet­ed): here.
    • Web­sites on strikes and uni­ver­si­ties in french: here and here.
    • List of uni­ver­si­ties and cen­ters on strike in France: here.
    • Papers on the cur­rent French aca­d­e­m­ic strikes: here.

    Overview on the French case

    French uni­ver­si­ties are cur­rent­ly under­go­ing the largest strike move­ment they have know in more than 10 years. Since Decem­ber 5th, an ever grow­ing num­ber of depart­ments, research cen­tres, jour­nals, learned soci­eties and dis­ci­pli­nary asso­ci­a­tions have stopped their usu­al research and teach­ing activ­i­ties and joined the struggle.

    The rea­son for the strike is threefold :

    • First, we can­not stand any longer the grow­ing pre­car­i­ous­ness of large num­bers of stu­dents, aca­d­e­mics and staff. In Novem­ber 2019, a stu­dent set him­self on fire to protest against stu­dent pover­ty. 130 000 adjunct teach­ers are paid by the hour, under the min­i­mum wage, while less and less per­ma­nent posi­tions are opened, and with salaries con­stant­ly descreas­ing in real terms.
    • Sec­ond, a vast reform of the pen­sion sys­tem cur­rent­ly under con­sid­er­a­tion by Par­lia­ment will affect all work­ers in France, but more specif­i­cal­ly civ­il ser­vants. Aca­d­e­mics, as all teach­ers in the pub­lic edu­ca­tion sys­tem, are bound to lose between a quar­ter and a third of their pen­sion, with no compensation.
    • Third, the French gov­ern­ment is plan­ning a new neolib­er­al ‘reform’ of uni­ver­si­ties wors­en­ing the cur­rent work­ing con­di­tions and cre­at­ing a bleak future for cur­rent junior schol­ars. The law (Loi de Pro­gram­ma­tion Pluri­an­nuelle de la recherche, or LPPR), deemed “ine­gal­i­tar­i­an and Dar­wininst” by the head of the CNRS, one of its pro­mot­ers, aims to increase the com­pe­ti­tion for grants between research teams and to get rid of the legal frame­work guar­an­tee­ing job sta­bil­i­ty and stip­u­lat­ing the teach­ing hours. Reform after reform, suc­ces­sive gov­erne­ments dis­man­tle the French pub­lic ser­vice of research and edu­ca­tion to bet­ter fol­low the neolib­er­al agen­da out­lined by the Bologna process launched in 1999

    Our next step is to expand and inten­si­fy the strike, start­ing on the 5th of March, which will be a nation­al “High­er edu­ca­tion and research stop” day. Then on the 6th and 7th we will hold a nation­al gen­er­al assem­bly with del­e­gates (stu­dents, admin­is­tra­tive staff, schol­ars, tenured or not) from dozens of uni­ver­si­ties. We would be hap­py and grate­ful to wel­come British col­leagues on these occa­sions. Coor­di­na­tion and sol­i­dar­i­ty between schol­ars on strike in Great Britain and in France will make us stronger. And since an increas­ing num­ber of coun­tries in Europe and all oth­er the world face the same reforms, maybe oth­er col­leagues and stu­dents can join us in the protest.


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