BM 64 – ESU Condemns the commodification of medical studies in France

03.05.2013
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ESU expresses its fears after the Portuguese University Fernando Pessoa (UFP) opened a branch in Toulon (France). UFP claims to have the right to provide healthcare education such as dentistry, speech therapy, physiotherapy and pharmacy studies to students in France.
UFP is a private university. Its registration fees are really high (9’500€ / year as opposed to 150-500€ / year in public french universities for the same studies) and in contempt of the rules for higher education in force in France, and for medical education in the country that has so far been 100% public. These high fees obviously undermine equal access to higher education defended by all.

To this date, no opening authorisation has been given to the French branch of UFP by the French accreditation authorities for higher education. The French ministry for higher education has already disapproved of the activities of UFP in an official communication. The Portuguese agency for evaluation and accreditation also states that it has not issued any certification to UFP for education abroad. Moreover, it is impossible to know the quality of the training offered, nor the teachers recruited given the lack of transparency of this institution. In addition to that, several doubts have been expressed regarding their inadequate infrastructures, and the internships, a core component of the healthcare and medical training, will take place in Porto, 1500 kilometers away.

These fears are even stronger when correlated to the particularities of the health studies system in France, based on a selection of students at the end of their first year. In the current situation, UFP welcomes desperate students after they have failed to pass the competitive-exams, and select them on their ability to pay very high fees, without any guarantee that the diploma delivered will allow them to work as medical and healthcare practitioners.

The European Students Union considers that UFP is again a sign of a new massive commodification of the higher education movement in France and in Europe, in the medical fields and in general, that must be closed as soon as possible. To allow this institution to carry on its higher education activities is to encourage any entrepreneur to seek profit by establishing similar structures across Europe in spite of standards for quality and equality of studies.

Unchecked diplomas are highly conflicting with public health, the safety of future patients in Portugal and in France is at stake here.

Besides, ESU is eager to see the Bologna process further implemented in the medical and healthcare studies in France. ESU condemns any projects of selection at the entrance of the first year of these studies, advocates in favour of the integration of every healthcare training inside public universities with an access to proper Bachelor and Master degrees for these students, and encourages the upcoming experimentations for the implementation of genuine Bachelors in the medical fields to eventually look into the abolition of the competitive-exam system.

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