Archive for Mines

yet another French paradox

Posted in University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2011 by xi'an

Due to a new law introduced last May by the French government, it has now become almost impossible for foreign non-EU students who graduate from a French business (e.g., HEC or ESSEC) or engineer (e.g., Polytechnique) school, or from a university, to get a job in France after graduation, even with a firm offer from a company. (This post may sound like a strange complaint since, in some countries, a student visa prohibits its holder to get a permanent job without first exiting the country. But this was not the case in France till last May.) Indeed, those non-EU (post)graduates with a job offer need to apply to local administrations who decide whether or not the job fits a need and whether or not it could not be offered to a French national. (As if those local administrations had the proper expertise.) The procedure takes months, during which the (post)graduates cannot work. Months for no reason other than the administrations being understaffed. And in most cases the answer is no. Meaning these (post)graduates then have to leave the country within a month. And cannot apply to a student visa without first leaving the country…

This sudden change of policy has been heavily discussed in the national and international press (chinese version), on blogs, and by student and professional organisations: I cannot but join the flow of protests against this iniquitous, absurd, and counter-productive action, dictated by electoral motives catering to the rightmost (or just plain xenophobic) part of the electorate. It is counter-productive in that most of those students have been trained in elite public schools, meaning their training has been mostly supported by the State (i.e. the French taxpayer), which would only benefit from the input of highly qualified (post)graduates to the French economy. It is absurd in that those non-EU (post)graduates number in the thousands, hence are unlikely to make a dent in the immigration figures used to frighten the electorate. It is counter-productive because it sends the wrong message to potential students abroad and will thus lower the attractivity of French higher education, an attractivity which is already under pressure from competing countries like Canada and Australia (which just went ahead of France in terms of foreign students). It is absurd since the [former Education and currently Budget] Minister, Valérie Pécresse, has publicly written to the Minister of Interior to ask him to abolish a procedure “going the wrong way”. It is counter-productive because these students graduate from schools (HEC, Polytechnique, Essec, Mines, Ensae, &tc.) where there are more job offers than candidates with the proper training. So the typical xenophobic rethoric of “foreigners stealing jobs from nationals” falls completely off the mark there, even though it was instrumental in passing this law… Now, it is quite probable this law will not survive the elections next May, but le mal sera fait (in terms of attractivity)… Note that postdocs are not impacted by the procedure!

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