Senegal: the rise of university fees in France worries the youth of Dakar

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Due to lack of resources, some students have to give up applying at French universities. But the determination to leave remains intact on the campus of Dakar. Met.

"The French got up one day and increased the registration fee. It is unacceptable. It is with these words, uttered by the candidate Ousmane Sonko during a meeting at the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar, that the subject of rising university fees in France burst in the Senegalese presidential campaign on Sunday. February 3rd.

The " anti-system " candidate reacted to the announcement in November by French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe of a clear increase in tuition fees for non-European students.

► From the start of the 2019 school year, non-European students will have to pay 2,770 euros against 170 euros today for a year of license, and 3,770 euros for a master's and a doctorate, instead of 243 euros. The goal, officially: to improve the reception conditions of international students, and to allocate them more scholarships.

"It hurt me when I learned"

Even though some fifteen universities have already refused to apply the increase, this announcement triggered the anger of Senegalese youth.   Chantal Coly, 24, is among those who are indignant. "It hurt me when I heard this news, because I realized that I will never be able to find this amount," says the student in Master 1 of Portuguese , recalling that "even before, the prices from the university represented a significant cost for a Senegalese " . While the contours of this measure are still vague, Chantal is however betting that it will not come into force this year, and has already applied in several universities in Nantes, Marseille or Paris.

On the campus of Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Chantal's stubbornness is shared by many students. In the second year of the Master of Modern Literature, Moussa Macalou, 25 years old, has been thinking for several years on the benches of a French university. So after a first failure four years ago, this specialist Jean-Jacques Rousseau attempt this year to integrate the Sorbonne, where he aims to do his thesis on the work of the author. And not only for the prestige of the Parisian university. "In Senegal, the conditions of study are very bad. Teachers are not available, and the choice of documents is very limited, he explains. Doing my thesis here could take me ten years . "

The youth unemployment rate, which is 16% according to official estimates, also pushes many young people to continue their studies in France. And this, whether to stay in France after graduation, or to return to their country of birth. "If I come back to Senegal with a French degree, I would easily find work," says Chantal Coly.

Continuing increase in the number of candidates

The impact of a rise in university fees is even greater here as Senegal is the sixth largest provider of foreign students in France – including the European Union. Some 11,000 Senegalese are currently studying in France. The number of Senegalese candidates has been growing steadily for several years, so many see this measure as a way of curbing this movement by making a financial selection. "The Senegalese who will study in France belong to the middle class. It is they who will be affected, and not the very well off, who go to the United States or Canada, " said Bernard Victor Ndione.   At 27, the young man will apply for the second time in Masters in Human Rights, after seeing his candidacies rejected last year.

According to the figures published on February 5 by Campus France, the public body responsible for promoting French higher education abroad and assisting candidates, the number of applications for a license did not decrease this year. year in Senegal, and even increased by 11.5% compared to last year. Figures that do not convince Bernard Victor Ndione. "Last year on this date, it took two months to have an appointment with Campus France. Today we can be received in less than a month, "he notes, showing on his smartphone the thread Whatsapp mutual aid between postulants where " every day someone withdraws " .

Beyond Senegal, the rise in university fees in France does seem to dissuade candidates. According to Campus France, the number of applications filed for a license at the beginning of the next academic year is down by 10% in the non-European countries.

>> This article is published in partnership with the school of journalism of Celsa – Paris Sorbonne and its project " Carnets du Senegal ".

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