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‘We want to live in dignity’: Paris students protest against financial hardship

Students in Paris protest financial hardship on Tuesday, November 26, 2019.
Students in Paris protest financial hardship on Tuesday, November 26, 2019. France 24

Struggling to pay rent, lacking the money for food or even to go to the doctor – students in France say they are finding it ever harder to finance their studies, plunging many into financial difficulty. On Tuesday, they took to the streets of Paris to demand government action. 

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It was just the latest protest in France against student financial hardship in recent weeks, following a suicide attempt by a student in the southern French city of Lyon on November 8. The 22-year-old set himself on fire after decrying his precarious financial situation in a Facebook post.

On Tuesday, protesters targeted a student canteen run by the Crous, the regional public authority that manages university services including student housing, cafeterias and bursaries, forcing their way inside.

“Financial insecurity means not eating properly, not going to the doctor,” said Philomène, a student at the protest. “You can’t live on a [student] grant any more. It’s impossible, you can’t make it to the end of the month, you struggle to pay rent.”

According to one union’s figures, 20 percent of students in France live under the poverty line, with the average monthly student stipend totaling just €234.

 “We produce enough wealth to allow people, whether students or workers, to live with dignity,” said Raphaël, a student at Paris-Tolbiac university. What I’m asking for is that everyone can live with dignity.

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