A hundred students took place in amphitheater E of the Faculty of Law and Political Science of Nantes. On the stage, several teachers are about to speak. Not for a lecture but to show them behind the scenes: “For you, everything is normalexplains Frédéric Allaire, professor of public law. But in the engine room, everything malfunctions. Faced with an increasingly heavy workload, there are countless sick leaves, depression and cracking colleagues. »
With nearly 4,500 students for 93 tenured teacher-researchers and 45 members of administrative and technical staff, this faculty has a staff ratio of 3.2 staff for 100 students. “This means that you have between two and three times fewer people to train and support you than the national university average”continues Frédéric Allaire.
“Save our skin”
On December 3, 2021, an alert for serious and imminent danger to the mental health of law school staff was filed with the university’s health, safety and working conditions committee (CHSCT). “Over the past 20 years, we have continuously taken on new workloadssays Paul-Anthelme Adèle, lecturer in private law. Except that we are putting our health at risk. To save our skin, we have no choice but to lower our reception capacities. »
These staff thus wish to reduce by 25% the number of students in the first year of bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the start of the 2023 academic year. , then to the rector of the academy.
“We are making this decision reluctantly, insists Virginie Gautron, lecturer in criminal law and criminal sciences. But the suffering is such that we have no choice. » During the period of selections for entry into the master’s program, she and her four colleagues must study 3,000 files each. “To this must be added the hundreds of copies to be corrected, thesis directions, the preparation of courses, the research workshe lists. I no longer count the evenings worked until midnight and the weekends sacrificed. »
The presidency of the university, which voted a deficit budget, ensures that this situation is “monitored with great attention”. The Faculty of Law has just obtained two teacher-researcher positions and an administrative position at the start of the 2022 academic year. “We will change the situation in the years to come.supports Arnaud Guével, vice-president of training and professor in Staps. But in a university that has had a staffing that has been much lower than the others for years, our room for maneuver is extremely limited. »
For Tristan Poullaouec, sociologist at the University of Nantes and co-author of The coming universitythis situation is not isolated (1). “Over the past fifteen years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of undergraduate students, some of whom have fragile academic achievements, with stable or even reduced budgets”he describes. “The expenditure per student and per year amounts to 12,000 € in preparation or BTS, against 3,000 to 4,000 € at the university. »
What student mobilization?
On the student side, this reduction in numbers is worrying. But they understand the dismay of the teachers. “If teachers do not work in good conditions, our diplomas will be less valuable. So if we have to support them, I’m ready to do it.”reacts Nora, a master’s student in criminal law.
From there to seeing the students in the street to claim resources? “We are not indifferent to what is happening, but we are increasingly disillusioned, says Baptiste, a first-year law student. We tend to stay in our little comfort, especially since the Covid. It’s like we don’t know what to do…”