FRANCE: Out of puff or more protests to come?

After four months of fighting the government's higher education and research reforms, meantime disrupting universities and bringing lecturers, researchers and students out on strike and onto the streets, the national protest movement appears to have run out of steam. Even the most radical universities, including the Sorbonne, have voted to re-open.

But activists say the closures and blockages are on hold so students can prepare for their examinations, and action will resume until demands are met. The immediate priority is for universities to organise catch-up courses and the examinations themselves so students do not waste a year or graduate with 'devalued' diplomas.

Prime Minister François Fillon and Valérie Pécresse, Minister for Higher Education and Research, have spoken of delaying the examinations until September. But this would give little time for revision for second sittings before the start of the new academic year in October.

University presidents have called on their communities for calm and continued negotiations. A manifesto calling for a 'recasting' of France's university system was advocated in Le Monde by 29 eminent academics who have launched an online petition in support of their proposals.

But grievances are not resolved and unions and action groups say they are not giving up the struggle. They continue to hold meetings coordinating the movement nationally and every day individual institutions give notice of more protest activities.

A major sticking point remains teacher training reforms. The national coordination of teacher training has warned that the government intends to issue orders before the summer amending the system for recruiting teachers, without waiting for a report due in mid-July from a consultative committee. The coordination has called for a national meeting - to include university presidents, directors of teacher-training institutes, lecturers' and students' unions, parents' associations and other educational representatives - on Saturday, 6 June.