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France presents conclusions from the national debate “University-Employment”

The recent French report De l’Université à l’Emploi (From University to Employment) proposes solutions to the problems of high drop-out rates at French universities and high graduate unemployment. The report also aims at enhancing more effective cooperation between university and industry. It is a result of the nationwide debate “University-Employment”, which was launched six months ago by President Jacques Chirac and organised by the French Government. It came as a response to the students’ protests in spring 2006 against a youth employment reform (see ACA Newsletter - Education Europe, March and May 2006). Between April and October there were more than 120 meetings in 29 education institutions all over France which brought together nearly 20 000 participants. About 2000 statements were received via an online consultation. Six major action lines are proposed:
  • reduce dropout rates at the universities (e.g. establish a career service in every university);
  • reform academic and professional guidance offered to students;
  • “professionalise” programmes to increase their relevance for the labour market;
  • create a sustainable link between university and industry/labour market;
  • create a university-employers’ partnership for growth (e.g. develop better information and orientation systems, hold university councils devoted to employment of graduates, etc.);
  • develop the university system (e.g. link the funding accorded to a university to an evaluation of the employment rates of its graduates).
Statistics indicate alarming facts: the drop-out rate at French higher education institutions stands at 20 percent or more than 80 000 students per year. One third of all first year students have to repeat the first year of their studies. Three years after graduation, 11 percent of all graduates are unemployed. Debate “University-Employment”
Commission du Débat national Université-Emploi: Final report (in French)
Synthesis of the report (in French)