A national consultation on the reform of the university scholarship system will start next October. Student unions and associations emphasize the urgency of strengthening aid for the most vulnerable.
“My scholarship is €486, accommodation costs €400. My rest for life requires a tariff!”, can joke Clément, a scholarship holder in Aix-en-Provence since 2015.
In the seven years of study since her trilingual degree incl Foreign or regional languages, literatures and civilizations (LLCER) after graduating from Sciences Po Aix saw his standard of living steadily decline.
While the government is dealing with the sensitive issue of scholarship reform in this new school year, a student has his idea of improvements to this respiratory system.
“Grants should be indexed at least to the poverty line, suggests Klement. Whether we make a difference, with the scholarship I am €700 from the poverty line”. Today, the poverty line in France is set at 1102 euros.
“My first years at university I was at Cité U, I had a 9 m2 apartment, which after APL (public housing assistance) cost me €80 a month. But after a while you are no longer eligible for Cité U, so I had to decide to take roommates. To pay less for rent, I went to Marseille. Except that every morning I waste time in traffic to get to Aix.”
Between housing galleys and rising prices, a student’s purchasing power has only thinned in the face of a fixed stock market.
To survive, he multiplies odd jobs such as language teaching and occasional translation missions. This brings him fluctuating additional income. But he can’t bring himself to take a 25-hour student contract because, according to himit is the best way to skip your studies. That’s 25 hours spent without revision.”
Sometimes it is unnecessary to buy a textbook.
Like the other students in limbo, Clément does not have enough food. “I ate one meal a day for a whole year, even one every other day. I ate in Aix. I negotiated with the merchants to give me a loan. When I went to ask CROUS for emergency help, they asked me for supporting documents. It’s humiliating.”
No emergency aid, nor food baskets distributed by the various student associations of the University of Aix-Marseille. “By the simple fact that we go to distributions, we make our poverty. It constantly brings us back to our state,” laments the student.
This poverty constantly forces him to sort the necessary from the superfluous. “Sometimes, however, buying a textbook is unnecessary,” reminds Klement.
With the opening of a national consultation on the reform of the stock exchange system, student associations would like their demands to be heard. “We are poorly represented in the consultation process”regrets Mylène Schroer, Secretary General of the Aix-Marseille Interasso Federation (FAMI).
Organization attached to FAGE is not a member of the French Youth Forum, the only organization that will participate in the discussions led by the Ministry of Education and Research in October.
In its latest August 2022 report, FAMI quantifies the increase in re-entry costs. Education is becoming more and more expensive for students. Back-to-school expenses increased by 2.83% for a student from Marseille.
So that students do not have to choose between eating and studying, associations at the University of Aix-Marseille organize food distribution.
The Aix-Marseille Interasso Federation (FAMI) has opened three solidarity food stores in Marseille: in Aix, Luminy and Saint Jérôme. “We distributed more than 47 tons of food and hygiene products and 1,000 food baskets,” details Mylène Schroer.
The same dire observation about student insecurity from Lyes Belhadj, UNEF administrator at Crous University of Aix Marseille, who saw between “500 to 1000 students per week” come to the Syndicate’s distribution centers in Saint Charles, Luminy, Saint Jérôme, Aix-Schumann and Avignon.
For the student union, there is an urgent need to introduce a universal student salary or a monthly allowance garnished from the parents’ income.
“But also the local authorities, whose abilities are there, must participate in reducing the insecurity of students. For example, by establishing a €1 meal for non-scholarships and free for scholarship holders. The departments and the region would split the difference to be paid, knowing that a meal at Crous costs 3.30 euros“, projects Lyes Belhadj.
Until now, the allocation of scholarships is based on social criteria, a system managed since 1995 by 26 regional centers for university and school work (Crous). A consultation led by Higher Education Minister Sylvie Retailleau aims to redefine financial aid for access to higher education.