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French academics launch war of words with government

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, minister for higher education and research, has come under attack from both university leaders and rank-and-file researchers, as the gap between government and academia in France widens.

Vallaud-Belkacem drew the ire of the CPU, France’s association of university presidents, with a statement she made in parliament on 5 May. Discussing the €100 million levy to be raised from the working capital of certain French universities as part of the 2015 higher education budget, Vallaud-Belkacem referred to the funds as “sleeping money”.

In a statement released on 7 May, the CPU gave a withering reply. “No, dear minister, universities’ money wasn’t sleeping; it was destined to prepare our students’ future,” the statement began. The CPU went on to call the levy “a legal heist” and noted that its introduction coincided with a general decline in investment loans available to universities.

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