Students at university

Student Plan: helping everyone along the path to success

After 3 months of consultations, on 30 October 2017 the Government unveiled measures to ensure students are better catered for and given more equal opportunities to succeed. The Student Plan is being funded by almost €1bn worth of investment over the five-year term, €450m of which have already been announced as part of the Big Investment Plan (GPI).
 
WHAT DOES THIS INVOLVE?

The Government is rolling out its reforms of the first higher education cycle, with the aim of bringing higher education within reach of all students by helping them, in all their diversity, along the path to success.

The Student Plan has been developed by considering the lycée (upper secondary school) as the doorway into higher education. From this level, it is vital that future students are given better guidance so that they can put their aspirations into practice. The plan is a complete package: careers guidance, access to higher education, organisation of the first cycle, living and study conditions: each of these dimensions has been taken on board and the subject of very specific measures and decisions.
  • From the start of the 2018 school year, capacity will be increased in those streams where demand far outstrips the number of places (sports science, psychology, law), higher national diplomas (BTS), etc.
  • Information at upper secondary schools will be improved: introduction of 2 weeks of core syllabus classes devoted to careers guidance in the last year of all upper secondary schools. Appointment of a second dedicated professeur principal (form tutor, who is the link between the teaching staff, administration, and pupils – especially with regard to careers guidance). Deployment of student-ambassadors to enhance peer-to-peer information.
  • A new choices platform will enter into force. Its name will be decided via a participatory survey and it will be simple, fair and transparent. This will bring together all of the information that A level students need: the course content, its employment rate and pass rate among former students.
  • Access to higher education is now fairer and more transparent: selection by drawing of lots has been abolished. This does not mean that the selection process is being reformed: the Baccalauréat (A levels or high school diploma) will remain the key to entering higher education. All A level students will find a place for them in higher education. Institutions will be required to accept all applicants. To ensure they are given equal opportunities to succeed, customised pathways will be created between the upper secondary school level and higher education.
  • For the fairest system on the most equal footing possible in social terms, the entry requirements of each stream will be clearly indicated. They will comply with a national framework, but institutions will be able to specify them in line with their distinctive features. The complete applications of A level students will show their learning paths, motivations, commitment and personality. Places will be reserved for students eligible for grants, scholarships or bursaries.
  • If, despite this requirement and the creation of additional places, for reasons linked to capacity a university simply cannot admit all applicants,  precedence will be given to those whose learning paths, motivations and aspirations are most closely aligned with the course in question. A local education authority committee will be tasked with providing guidance to any A level students who do not get a place on the course of their choice, to guarantee them one on the next best course in light of their initial choice.
  • All students will be able to take a gap year, straight after their A levels, to pursue personal, entrepreneurial or professional projects. Students will have more freedom in fitting Bachelor degrees around their specific circumstances: inter-subject pathways, extra classes, fast-track or flexible pathways for example.
  • Better living conditions for students: €100m worth of spending power will be given back to students from 2018. The student social security contribution of €217 will be scrapped, and massive investment efforts made in terms of the range of health services available on campus. Grants will be paid out on a set date each month. Middle-class students who do not have the means to pay for their own accommodation will be given financial assistance. 60,000 student housing units will be built over the next five years.

MEANS

The State is set to commit €500m over five years – on top of the €450m of the Big Investment Plan – to increasing capacity in those streams where demand far outstrips the number of places, to developing apprenticeship-based training, to providing individual guidance for each student and to recognising the educational commitment of teaching staff.

To address financial insecurity and support independence, the Government is intending to:
  • unlock €100m in spending power for students every year by covering their health insurance through the general social security scheme;
  • support the opening of free health centres;
  • work on the relevance of the range of transport options available, with all local authorities;
  • build 60,000 housing units;
  • set up a one-stop-shop for social benefits.
 
WHY?

Because it is unacceptable that, on average, 40% of students fail after 4 years of study, the Government has decided to develop a path to success for each student so that they are able to make informed choices about their education. Academic plans for higher education must be assessed on the basis of A level students' profiles (which include their achievements during secondary school) and not just of their A level results.  Institutions are required to accept all applicants. For upper secondary school students not meeting the entry requirements of their chosen course, the institution is now able to draw up a customised pathway for them to follow.
 
ACTION TAKEN


30 October 2017: The Government unveils the Student Plan.

19 October 2017: The Rapporteur General for the consultation, Daniel Filâtre, submits the working groups' conclusions to the Minister.

17 July 2017: Frédérique Vidal launches the sweeping consultation on improving conditions and opportunities for students.  250 secondary school and higher education stakeholders across 11 working groups discuss five themes:
  1. access to higher education
  2. engineering of the course range
  3. updating educational content
  4. student life
  5. specific streams (health studies, sports science, psychology)