Plan for more uni lessons in English

Proposed change aims to attract bright foreign students, but has anger French language campaigners

Proposed change aims to attract bright foreign students, but has anger French language campaigners

A PROPOSED law change that would make it easier for universities to provide lessons in English has provoked anger from defenders of the French language.

The amendment to the Code de l'Education, which was discussed by ministers on the Journée Internationale de la Francophonie, would lift some of the restrictions on the language in which classes are held.

Supporters say this would make France a more attractive destination for bright foreign students, offering competition to established British and American campuses.

The rules currently state that the default language is French and that only a few exemptions can apply - such as teaching a foreign language, or lessons given by visiting foreign lecturers.

Three French authors - Frédéric Werst, Eugène Green and Olivier Rolin - are leading the campaign for the current rules to remain in place.

Werst describes the proposed change as "insulting" and "anti-Republican" because of goes to the heart of the constitutional principle of French being the language of France.

He also argues that, over time, more lessons would be given in English - to the detriment of French students who do not have a fluent command of that language.

The Académie Française is also supporting the campaign against the proposed changes, which it says would "harm the status of the French language in universities".

The group said it recognised that there should be some exemptions to the all-French lecture rule, but these exceptions should remain very clearly defined.

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