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Student protests grow in France as teachers investigated for attack on strikers

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By Robert Hackwill
Student protests grow in France as teachers investigated for attack on strikers

Tension has been rising in universities across France as the government attempts to reform access to university places, reforms which are proving unpopular.

Faculties in Paris, Tolouse, Bordeaux and Lille students have mobilised en masse with demonstrations and blockades.

The government says it wants to improve career paths and choices at the end of high school, and try to cut numbers in over-subscribed disciplines like law or medicine.

Critics of the plan say it is the thin end of a wedge that will see the introduction of selection, the end of freedom of choice and the idea of a university for all.

French universities are often theatres for the playing-out of the tensions between left and right in French society. This post notes that an extreme right-wing website has praised the Dean of Montpelier law faculty for beating up leftist striking students, and notes that it supplied much of the manpower used in the attack...

"This is preventing students who are mobilized with us today from going to university, choosing their studies. And choosing your studies today is choosing your life, choosing your future," said one young man supporting the action.

With exams on the horizon the protest movement has created tensions with non-demonstrating students.

Riot police had to be deployed in Bordeaux to evacuate strikers, but the worst violence has been in Montpellier, where the Dean and one of his teaching staff at the law school are being investigated by police for allegedly taking part in a masked attack on striking students.