IN IMAGES: French universities ‘are in ruin’

Academics and students were set to take to the streets across France on Thursday to protest against a lack of funding that has left their “universities in ruin”. In recent weeks protesters have been posting photographic evidence of the crumbling institutions online.

IN IMAGES: French universities 'are in ruin'
French universities are in a state of ruin and the students have photographic evidence. Photo:

The French higher education system is in crisis, according to lecturers, researchers, students and union members who will march in protest in cities across France on Thursday.

They are angry at the lack of funding being given to universities and point to the 2015 budget which will see spending cut by as much as €136 million, at a time when they say investment is vital.

“We need to highlight the catastrophic state of higher education and research in France,” read a statement from the collective “Sciences en Marche” (Sciences on the march).

The same group organised a similar day of action in October but say their demands have been ignored by the government, who they accuse of turning a blind eye to “the degradation of the conditions” under which they carry out their research.

“They are deplorable and it’s a real political problem,” said Sophie Duchesne, the director of research at CNRS (National Centre of Scientific Research).

The movement has been backed by students angry at the lack money invested in renovating student accommodation and lecture theatres.

They have been posting images of the crumbling universities on line on a Tumblr account named “Universities in Ruin”.

“Many research centres and universities are now on the brink of ruin (financially),” reads a statement on the web page.

“Many are falling apart, literally. The lack of resources has consequences for the quality of teaching and research, but also on our daily lives.

“Students reluctant to go to bathroom, 12 people forced to work in a space of 20 square metres and people forced to  study in a unheated lecture theatre, greatly complicates our studies and research missions,” the statement reads.

See their photos below:

(A lecture theatre in the languages department of the university of Bordeaux)

(The university of human sciences at Aix Marseille)

(A toilet in the student residence at Grenoble University)

(A dead cockroach in the toilets of the university in Caen)

(Students crammed in at the University of Paris 8)

(The university of Caen could do with more than a lick of paint)

(A leak in the ceiling at the canteen at the University Paris 8)

(The corridor of the human sciences department at the university of Reims)

(A gloomy corridor at Lyon 1 university looks like something out of a horror movie, say students) 

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Police probe opened after poster campaign against ‘Islamophobic’ lecturers at French university

The French government condemned on Monday a student protest campaign targeting two university professors accused of Islamophobia, saying it could put the lecturers in danger.

Police probe opened after poster campaign against 'Islamophobic' lecturers at French university
Illustration photo: Justin Tallis/AFP

Student groups plastered posters last week on the walls of a leading political science faculty in Grenoble that likened the professors to “fascists” and named them both in a campaign backed by the UNEF student union.

Junior interior minister Marlene Schiappa said the posters and social media comments recalled the online harassment of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty last October, who was beheaded in public after being denounced online for offending Muslims.

“These are really odious acts after what happened with the decapitation of Samuel Paty who was smeared in the same way on social networks,” she said on the BFM news channel. “We can’t put up with this type of thing.”

“When something is viewed as racist or discriminatory, there’s a hierarchy where you can report these types of issues, which will speak to the professor and take action if anything is proven,” Schiappa said.

Sciences Po university, which runs the Institute of Political Studies (IEP) in Grenoble in eastern France, also condemned the campaign on Monday and has filed a criminal complaint.

An investigation has been opened into slander and property damage after the posters saying “Fascists in our lecture halls. Islamophobia kills” were found on the walls of the faculty.

One of the professors is in charge of a course called “Islam and Muslims in contemporary France” while the other is a lecturer in German who has taught at the faculty for 25 years.