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Reform our grants, not our pensions

Fédération des Associations Générales Étudiantes

The French Ministry of Higher Education’s recent announcement to increase funding for student
grants and remove the threshold effect is a welcome first step towards fighting student poverty.
These changes will result in an additional 500 million euros in funding for 2023, and an estimated
35,000 more students accessing grants. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that this is only a
parametric evolution of the system, and that a more significant systemic reform is necessary.
The threshold effect, which currently prevents some students from receiving grants due to their
parents’ income, has long been a contentious issue in France. While it aimed to target financial aid to
those who needed it most, it ultimately excluded many students who could benefit from support. Its
removal is a positive step towards a more inclusive system that provides support to all students who
require it.
However, while the additional funding is welcome news, it’s critical to recognize that it is still far
from sufficient to address the widespread poverty experienced by students in France. According to
recent studies, approximately one in five students in France lives below the poverty line, struggling
to meet basic needs such as food, housing, and health care. The COVID-19 pandemic has only
exacerbated these challenges, with many students losing part-time jobs and struggling to pay rent or
buy food.

La FAGE – the main NUS of France – has been advocating for a structural reform of the grant system
for 7 years. While it was promised by Emmanuel Macron in 2017, no announcement was made
during the first mandate of the current president of France. Today, because a whole network of
student association and representatives lobbied for years and because the youth is strongly
contesting the new military service and the retirement system reform, the government had to give
counterparts to calm down the youth mobilisation in the current protests.
While the Ministry’s recent announcement is a positive step forward in the fight against student
poverty, it’s crucial to recognize that much more work is needed to create a fair and inclusive system
that provides support to all students who require it. We must continue to advocate for systemic
reforms that address the root causes of student poverty and work together to create a more just
and equitable higher education for all.


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