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The Debate

Falling behind: French students denounce growing pauperisation

THE DEBATE
THE DEBATE FRANCE 24

It's another precinct heard from in France's blowback against inequality. After the Yellow Vest movement and ahead of December 5 mass strikes against pension reform, university students are mobilising. The recent self-immolation outside a student union in Lyon of a 22-year-old political science major has drawn attention to the desperate situation of those squeezed by stagnating scholarship stipends, rising rent and the soaring cost of living. 

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Are we back to one year ago, when the president was accused of being too out of touch with reality? Emmanuel Macron never attended university. His formative years included highly selective preparatory school and what's known here as the royal path: the elitist Grandes Ecoles schools. 

Over in the UK, it's a familiar story where the resentment against Oxford and Cambridge is growing and currently, teachers and staff at 60 universities are on strike. Over the years, their wages have stagnated while the cost of living has gone up. How does the state make quality education affordable? In a changing workforce where the demand for unskilled labour is plummeting, how does a scaled-back welfare state stop those entering that changing workforce from getting left behind?
 

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