Life Style

A survey highlights discrimination at the entrance to masters

Do you have the same chances when entering a master’s if you are disabled? Or if one has a North African-sounding surname? This is what three researchers from Gustave-Eiffel University wanted to know. Sylvain Chareyron, Louis-Alexandre Erb and Yannick L’Horty thus carried out a testing operation last spring with the heads of 607 bac + 5 training courses, in 19 different universities.

The authors of this study, unveiled on February 15 by France Inter and that The cross was able to consult, did not test real applications but sent requests for information by e-mail to the master’s directors from three fictitious candidates. Of the two who have a French-sounding name, one specifies that he has a disability and uses a wheelchair. The last student, meanwhile, has a first name and a surname that evoke possible North African origins.

No discrimination based on disability

The results of the survey do not show any difference in treatment for applicants with disabilities. In contrast, “a presumed French candidate who indicates his origin by a first name and a surname from North Africa” is 12.3% less likely to receive a positive response to a simple request for information. “Nearly one master in five reserves a
discriminatory response to a request for information from a candidate whose surname
suggests a North African origin”
note the authors.

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This phenomenon is more frequent in certain courses, such as law. It is thus 33.3% of legal masters who are discriminating, according to the survey. “In view of the discrimination that persists almost everywhere and the way in which radicalism is expressed today, these results are not surprising”reacts a former head of master’s degree, in a faculty of law in the Ile-de-France region. “The university is not cut off from society. And it is likely that some colleagues recruit by attaching themselves to the origin, real or supposed, of the candidates”, she laments.

However, more diversity

Nevertheless, this teacher-researcher ensures that significant progress has been made in terms of diversity in recent decades. “In the two masters in which I teach, we even find a majority of foreign students or students of foreign origin, often with surnames or first names sounding North African or Muslim. »

“The discrimination highlighted by this study may surprise you because it goes against the values ​​of openness that characterize the university”reacts for his part Manuel Tunon de Lara, president of France Universities (2). “This survey must in any case serve as a tool to support establishments confronted with this phenomenon. It invites us, for example, to be particularly attentive to possible drifts in the masters in tension, the most requested, and when the person in charge of training decides alone on recruitment “he continues.

A sense of racism

“Corroborating certain testimonies that were brought to our attention, this study provides tangible elements likely to fuel our pleas”, commented for her part Laurine Chabal, vice-president of the Fage (Federation of general student associations).

President of the other major student union, Unef, Mélanie Luce considers that the new investigation comes “confirm and objectify” the lessons of a survey carried out in 2019 by his organization. Thus, 42% of people “perceived as non-white” felt that they had been victims of racism in the context of their studies.

Similarly, in 2017, a survey by the Observatory of Student Life showed that 17% of students who believed they had suffered a difference in treatment during their studies put it down to their origin or nationality.


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