BM85: International students in danger : a bill to be rejected
On November 14th, 2023, the French Senate passed the first reading of the draft law “To control immigration, improve integration”.
This draft law, which was already repressive in nature, has been deeply hardened by right-wing and far-right senators, with the tacit agreement of the French government. FAGE is outraged by the erroneous and dangerous representation of immigration conveyed by these Senators. Far from responding to the real needs of international students, these measures unduly consider Higher Education as a “channel for illegal immigration”. This statement is disconnected with the reasons why students immigrate, the realities of universities and the difficulties international students cope with daily.
Indeed, there is a reality of financial precariousness among international students in France. In 2021, they represented half of the recipients of the emergency aids issued by the CROUS (Regional Centres for University and Scholar Charities). Unfortunately, this draft law is not the first governmental decision which impacted badly international students. In fact, since 2018, the Bienvenue en France plan increased international students’ fees by 16, while they are still not eligible for CROUS grants based on social criteria. In the same vein, to obtain a residence permit, international students are subject to income conditions.
In total disregard of this reality, members of the Senate proposed a draft law that will further exacerbate the difficulties faced by international students. For internationals residing in France for less than five years, the national housing assistance aid has been supressed and the student visa will be conditioned on a deposit. By undermining their right to residency and requiring them to make greater financial contributions, those measures exacerbate the precariousness of an already particularly vulnerable group of people, thereby increasing social exclusion.
Administrative insecurity is worsened by the Senate’s intention to impose new annual checks on the “genuine and serious” nature of multi-annual residence permits. Renewals and applications for residence permits are all too frequent ordeals for international students, who cope with overcrowded prefectures. Nonetheless, those administrative deadlines usually coincide with exam periods, jeopardising their academic success. For all of these reasons, those measures could increase the number of foreign nationals residing in France illegally, which would have dreadful consequences on their access to their rights and their prospects for integration.
Furthermore, health insecurity is on the increase, with more and more students forgoing healthcare for financial reasons. Thus, the abolition of the national sanitary support grant (AME), by the Senators is useless and harmful: this measure is dangerous for exiles’ health and brings serious public health problems. The abolition of the AME is also decried by health students and professionals, who must respect healthcare ethics guidelines and deontology. Abolishing the right to healthcare put the lives of many exiled people at risk and undermine human dignity, for which access to healthcare is an essential prerequisite.
FAGE, the leading student representative organisation in France, denounces this draft law. We wish to warn of the dangers that the definitive adoption of such a text would represent for exiled persons and international students. It is not about tending more towards the rejection of others and exclusion, but about genuinely improving integration, which includes access to Higher Education, for all, under decent conditions. Foreign students are in danger: urgent action is needed. We firmly reject this draft law and call on the French National Assembly members to vote massively against it.
Thus, we call the European student community to support FAGE on pledging against that draft law to defend internationalisation of Higher Education and the rights and social condition of international students.
Seconders: FAIRe, CREUP, FEF, LÍS, LSA, LSVb, SAMOK, UdU, USI