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At the gates of university masters, students jostle

Adelaide (1) is described as “A brilliant student” by his lawyer. Passionate about European institutions, the young woman, who is completing her first year of a master’s degree (M1), applies for the second year (M2) at Paris-1. But in June 2021, cold shower: she sees her admission refused for “Insufficient level”, despite a journey “Very European oriented”.

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“His file is supposed to be subjected to a process of verification of university achievements, explains master Florent Verdier, who takes his case to the administrative court to challenge the decision. However, the university is not in a position to prove that this process actually took place. “ It is on this flaw that the lawyer plays, hoping that the court will rule in favor of his client and pronounce her registration within the master.

Absorb the flows

“Seizing the judge to study, it seems amazing”, agrees Florent Verdier. Since he specialized in this type of file, in 2014, he has received “Between 300 and 400 per year”, and he treats about twenty. And in recent years, he even seems to receive more and more. “The students do not come out of cheerfulness: it is just their last means of access to a course. ” Like Adelaide, many bachelor’s graduates find themselves without admission to a master’s program for the 2021-2022 school year. A distress that can be read on social networks under the hashtag #StudentsWithoutMaster.

A phenomenon that is difficult to quantify (requested, the Ministry of Higher Education did not answer our questions) but which is not new: if the success rate in bachelor’s degree has remained stable for years (around 42%), numbers are constantly increasing. On average, 30,000 new students come to use university benches. “We knew that we were going to be more and more numerous”, says Maryam Pougetoux, vice-president of the UNEF (National Union of Students of France). Problem: at the same time, the offer in master’s degree changes little. “We would have to create three universities to absorb the flow”, she assesses.

“The right to continue studies”

The congestion is all the more visible since the reform of 2017, which introduced a selection between the license and the master, previously located between the M1 and the M2. To prevent possible disruptions in the course, this law created a “Right to continue studies”, which allows students without any admission to initiate an appeal procedure with the rectorate. In 2017, of the 173,000 registered in L3, they were 3,300 to use it, with success for 735 of them. With more than 7,400 referrals, 2020 highlights “A situation of rupture”, notes UNEF. And 2021 seems to be going the way.

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Guillaume Gellé, vice-president of the Conference of University Presidents admits: “Access to M1 contradicts two main principles: the right to continue studies and selective admission to a master’s degree. “ A training “Demanding”, which requires limited staff.

Yes “3,000 to 4,000 permanent places” will be opened in the most selective masters, according to the Ministry of Higher Education, to deal with the urgency of this re-entry, “We will not escape further reflection”, he considers. The challenge: that the diploma retains its value and allows optimal integration into the labor market. “A society made up solely of master’s graduates no longer makes sense”, he believes. In a society where the value of long studies takes precedence, “Students should not go to a master’s degree by default. Rather, let us strengthen professionalization in license, and develop continuing education “, suggests Guillaume Gellé.


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