African states urged to unite against non-EU fees rise

An official at Senegal’s higher education ministry has called on African states to form a united front to negotiate with France against a steep fee increase for students from countries outside the European Union.

“African countries can form a united group and negotiate with France,” the Agence de Presse Sénégalaise reported Dr Lassana Konaté, director in charge of bursaries at the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, as saying. “Now, if we don’t do this, each country will have to get itself out of trouble.”

In November 2018 French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced a new policy aiming to make French universities more attractive to foreign students, focusing on improving conditions and education. In terms of the policy, fees would rise for non-EU students in September 2019 from €170 (US$192) to €2,770 for a first degree, and from €243 to €3,770 for a masters.

Konaté warned that many African students in France would find themselves in a difficult situation if the fees increase happened, reported APS.

“I am not pre-empting matters, but this fees increase will have a considerable impact,” APS reported him as saying. “We are heading towards a multiplication of 15, indeed 16, times for enrolments.”

He said the immediate consequence would be that many students would be unable to pay their bills, study and live in France.

African students represent about 40% of around 280,000 non-EU students in France, according to Agence d’Information d’Afrique Centrale, or ADIAC, which reported France was being obliged to reconsider its plan.

About 20 French universities were refusing to implement the increase which they considered inappropriate and unjust, said ADIAC.

The agency quoted French junior education minister Gabriel Attal as saying non-European students currently studying in France would not have to pay the increased fees; and the future system would be redistributive “so foreign students without resources to pay the fees will benefit from grants, and those who have the means can pay the fees”. – Compiled by Jane Marshall

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