African students in France protest planned fees increase

Petitions in France launched by African students’ associations have gathered more than 160,000 signatures against the French government’s plan to substantially raise university fees for foreign students from outside the European Union.

The French government says it is introducing the increases – from €170 (US$192) at present to €2,770 a year for a first, three-year degree, and from €240 to €3,700 for a masters or doctorate – from the 2019-20 academic year to make French universities more attractive by improving conditions and cutting bureaucracy for foreign students.

But most African students studying in France, who number about 160,000 and represent 45% of all international students in the country, are from poor backgrounds, and they believe the plan will exclude them from studying there, reported Radio France Internationale (RFI).

Ousmane Bocar Diallo, who is studying in France and is one of the leaders representing tens of thousands of Senegalese students, told RFI the students were in shock and felt targeted by a measure which some describe as “brutal” and “discriminatory”. Associations of students from seven African countries and the French student union UNEF had formed an action group to try to defeat “this policy of exclusion”, he said.

Meanwhile in Mauritius, Dominique Vasse, in charge of cooperation at the French embassy, confirmed the measure would concern Mauritian students in France, who currently number 1,800, reported L’Express of Port Louis.

“Those who are already enrolled in a university will not pay these additional costs. But those who wish to enrol next year will have to,” she explained. – Compiled by Jane Marshall

This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.