FRANCE: Universities to tell students their job prospects

Universities are to carry out a vast survey to find out how their former students have fared finding employment. The aim is to give freshers an indication of which courses are most - and least - likely to lead to a job. Starting in December, about 100,000 graduates will be contacted by their alma maters in the inquiry ordered by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

The Universities' Freedoms and Responsibilities law of 2007 specifies employment as a basic objective of higher education, and obliges universities to make publicly available statistics including indicators of their graduates' employment rates.

This first national inquiry will cover graduates of masters, professional bachelor and technology institute courses who completed their studies in 2007. The field will be progressively extended to engineers, PhDs and to bachelor students discontinuing their studies and seeking work.

Le Parisien-Aujourd'hui reported graduates would be telephoned to answer questions about their employment experiences. Universities would "doubtless" draw on present students to carry out the interviews for which they would be paid. The ministry was providing EUR750,000 (US$1.1 million) to fund the exercise, it said.

The universities have until the end of April to send in their findings and from June, the next generation of students will be able to consult the results before deciding on their studies. Such information is already available for the selective engineering and business grandes écoles.