FRENCH PRESS REVIEW: Libération leads with the announcement of massive state investment to create 10 American-style leading universities in France.
It’s been dubbed “le grand emprunt” or “the big loan”, €35 million borrowed from French banks by the State and invested into key sectors in French society to build for the future. The “loan commission” headed up by two former Prime Ministers, Michel Rocard (Socialist Party) and Alain Juppé (right-leaning UMP ruling party) have advised that the money be invested in five different areas, notably in education, research and development.
Libération’s headline is “University of Sarkozy”. They focus on the plan to invest heavily in creating centres of excellence with ties to the private sector. France’s universities are almost exclusively state-funded and have fallen behind American and British universities which are heavily funded by alumni and the private sector as well as from student fees.
The left-leaning paper’s editorial says that investment in universities is a good thing however the money is going almost exclusively to scientific and development fields. The humanities and social sciences have been left by the wayside. Is this because they’re not viewed as useful or ‘profitable’?
The right-leaning Le Figaro calls it Sarkozy’s “big gamble”. It’s editorial emphasizes how indebted France is at the moment and wonders if it’s a good idea to borrow even more money. However it concludes that this measure is “sowing the seeds for the future” and that the money will eventually be recouped.
L’Humanité, a Communist daily, is predictably critical of the loan. After successive bank bailouts, this is another example of the state lining the private sector’s pockets, the paper claims. Meanwhile, teaching jobs are being axed. The paper leads with teachers’ demonstrations due to take place across France today to protest against reforms in the education sector.
Other stories in today’s French papers:
France Telecom has sent a questionnaire to staff to determine their level of satisfaction in the company. The results are far from positive and reveal a general unease amongst employees. The company has seen a spate of suicides amongst staff members in the past couple of years which have cast the spotlight on business practices and the working conditions of France Telecom staff.