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.