Students condemn 'illegal' uni fees

Union claims 28 of France's 94 universities are breaking law by charging excessive registration fees to new students

20 July 2010

ALMOST a third of universities are charging excessive fees to first-year students due to start this autumn, France's national student union has claimed.

National body Unef has named 28 universities that it claims are breaking the law by asking for up to €2,200 from new students to register for their course.

The union says it has highlighted the problem for six years running without success. It argues that the "illegal" fees are penalising students from middle-income families who are unable to get grants.

Registration fees (frais d'inscription) are compulsory for all first-year French university students that are not eligible for a means-tested grant.

They are regulated by ministerial decree and the fees for the 2010/11 academic year have been set at €174 - up by more than a third in a decade.

Unef claims in its new report that a number of universities are getting around the limits by imposing extra fees under a different name.

It says Pau is charging up to €2,261 to register, Grenoble 2 wants €1,900 and Bordeaux 4 is asking students for €970.

Unef says: "The higher education ministry has not fulfilled its responsibility to stop these illegal practices."

Minister Valérie Pécresse said in a TV interview this time last year that she was keeping a close eye on excessive fees and would ask local education authorities to take legal action against universities that ignored the rules.

Unef is calling for the universities on its list to refund the fees immediately.

Pavel Losevsky - Fotolia.com

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