Big fee rises at elite Mines schools hit non-EU students hardest

Fees for French and European students at the elite Écoles des Mines will more than double from the next academic year – but will rise by four-and-a-half times for non-European students. An immigrant support organisation is appealing to France’s State Council to annul the ‘discriminatory, unjust and illegal’ measures.

New students enrolling at the prestigious Mines schools of engineering and management will have to pay €3,850 (US$5,256) if they are from countries outside the European Union, and €1,850 if they are French or EU nationals. At present fees for all students are €850 a year.

The increases are to compensate for a cut in the state subsidy, according to the daily financial newspaper Les Echos. They will take effect from the 2014-15 academic year and will affect only new students.

The director-general of the Institut Mines-Télécom, Jean-Claude Jeanneret, told the paper that the increases were a direct consequence of the state’s budgetary difficulties which had led to a cut of 20% in the schools’ operating budget in 2013 and 2014.

Extra funding was needed “to preserve the quality of education, research and our contribution to economic development”, he said.

Not all non-European students would have to pay the extra €2,000, he said: those who had lived in France for more than two years and those who were in France studying for double degrees would not be affected.

The institute also underlined that it was operating in an international market and that €3,850 for fees was modest “compared with the US$35,000 of Columbia University”, reported Les Echos.

Differentiation of fees between the two groups of students attending the public engineering schools of the Institut Mines-Télécom and six Écoles des Mines attached to it – Mines ParisTech and schools in Saint-Etienne, Alès, Douai, Nantes and Albi-Carmaux – became possible with the passing of regulations last December by the two supervisory ministries, of economic regeneration and of the budget.

But the immigrant support organisation Groupe d’information et de soutien des immigrées, or Gisti, is appealing to France’s State Council to annul the ministerial orders which it claims are discriminatory, unjust and illegal.

It protested that the measure constituted “discrimination, with no justification, to access to higher education institutions”.

The group said: “This unjust difference of treatment is yet again aggravating the situation of the poorest foreign students. Where the sharing of common knowledge should build bridges, the wall of money is, here as elsewhere, erecting barriers.”

Gisti claimed the measure was “also illegal: it … introduces between students a discrimination that relies exclusively on nationality, and which cannot be based on any objective or rational justification. It therefore breaches the constitutional principle of equality and international conventions which prohibit discrimination”.

The group said it was therefore submitting a plea to the State Council to annul the measures.


What an ethnocentrist policy! This is unjust.

Richard Aghama Okundia on the University World News Facebook page

I am absolutely shocked to see this. I expected better from France.

Christopher Weir on the University World News Facebook page