Universities dismiss ‘lottery’ for Paris medical students

University authorities have denied that medical students in Paris will be selected via a lottery system, after claims that an overfull system will see caps on student places.

Universities dismiss 'lottery' for Paris medical students
Photo: AFP

If your grades are good enough to get into med school in Paris, you won't have to rely on the luck of a lottery to get a place.

These were the words of the Rectorat de Paris, which controls university admissions, after claims that too many students this year would mean a capped intake of students in 2017.

These claims came via Sadep, the French organization that assigns medical students to their schools, and were published in Le Monde newspaper. 

The organization pointed out that there were only 7,500 places for med students in Paris, but this year alone had already seen 8,143 get places – and that an even bigger number was expected for next year. 

The Rectorat, however, said on Thursday that “all first year students in the Paris region will be able to pursue their choice of subject and establishment”.

They also firmly stated that there would be “no lottery system”.

Sadep's claims proved explosive in France on Thursday, prompting Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research Thierry Mandon to tell Liberation: “I will do all that I can so that this kind of 'sorting' in order to enter the first year of medicine will never exist”. 

The FIFDL union told Le Monde that such a system was “playing with the lives of graduates”.

French doctor and writer Christian Lehmann told French radio station France Info that it demonstrated “truly a complete lack of respect” towards the medical students.

He criticized the system further, suggesting that a closer look needed to be taken at how public money was being used, if top universities were no longer able to meet basic demands for arguably one of the most important professions.

(Some internet users have taken to Twitter to make light of the situation, with a picture of a lottery ticket and caption “Student registering for medical school”)

The story launched debates into the selection process overall, which has often received criticism for being elitist in France.

Doctor and writer Martin Winkler told Le Figaro newspaper: “Many young people want to become doctors, but the system is parallel to paying for private schools and it favours children from privileged families”.



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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.