Global rankings offer boost to French unis

Recent global university rankings have not made pleasant reading for French higher education chiefs, but the latest league table released this week suggests France has some of the best “new” universities in the world.

Global rankings offer boost to French unis
France's newer universities are perorming well, when compared to counterparts across the globe. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

For once a global ranking of universities will be greeted positively in France.

The Times Higher Education magazine released a league table this week of the 100 best ‘new’ universities in the world which featured six French institutions.

The league table, which only considers universities formed in the last 50 years, also featured two French institutions in the top 10 – the University of Paris-Sud, (8th) and University of Pierre and Marie Curie (9th).

The four other French universities to make the top 100 were University of Paris Diderot – Paris 7 (17th) University of Montpellier (26th), University of Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (54th) and the University of Paris-Dauphine (86th)

The rankings will be a boost to France’s higher education, which has suffered in recent global rankings which looked at reputation of the world’s universities among academics.

Phil Baty from Times Higher Education told The Local: “This is positive news for France. These rankings simply look at performance of the younger universities, which often lose out in rankings because they don’t have the same reputation and history of places like Harvard or Oxford.

“France remains one of the exceptional students within this forward-looking list…but France has no room for complacency. The list of 100 universities under 50-years-old is filled with bright young dynamic institutions from nations whose governments are investing heavily in the creation of first-rate universities.

“Many emerging economies are likely to offer serious competition against the best institutions in France,” he added.

However the strong showing by France was also put down to structural reforms made in the 1970s, which allowed older institutions to be reformed under new names, which allowed them to be included in the Top 100 universities under 50-years-old.

For the third year in a row, the list was headed by South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology. 

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France to make period products free for students

The French government said on Tuesday it would make period products free for students, joining a global drive to end "period poverty" - the inability to pay for menstrual protection.

France to make period products free for students
Last year, Scotland became the first country in the world to offer free universal access to period products. Photo: Andy Buchanan / AFP

Higher Education Minister Frederique Vidal said that machines containing free tampons, sanitary towels and other period products would be installed in student residences and university health services in the coming weeks.

She added that the government aimed to make period protection “completely free of charge” for all by the start of the next academic year in September.

In November, Scotland became the first country in the world to make period products free for all, blazing a trail that inspired feminists and anti-poverty campaigners around the world to also take up the issue of period poverty.

In England, free period products are available in all primary and secondary schools – a move New Zealand said last week it too would implement.

In December, President Emmanuel Macron had promised to also address the issue of period poverty.

Commenting on the plight of homeless women, he noted that “the fact of having your period in the street and to not be able to buy something to protect yourself and preserve your dignity” added to the humiliation they suffered.

The move to make sanitary protection free for students comes amid a growing focus on youth poverty following shock images of food banks being swamped by hard-up students due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many students say they are struggling to make ends meet after losing part-time jobs in cafes and restaurants which have been closed for months due to the health crisis.