France to create 10,000 new university places after record numbers passed school exams
France's minister for higher education says 10,000 new university places will be created to cope with the huge demand after record numbers of students passed the Bac exam this year, qualifying them for university entrance.
A French student with a pass in the Baccalauréat exam, sat by most pupils in the final year of secondary school, is usually eligible for a university place.
Amid the Covid-19 crisis, a record 95.7 of students were awarded one of the three types of Baccalauréat, this year was based on their year-round schoolwork, instead of the usual set of exams, which were cancelled.
The minister for higher education, Frédérique Vidal, told Le Parisien newspaper that most of the new university places will be in subjects where there is most demand from students, such as nursing, physiotherapy, paramedical subjects and social studies. 2000 places will be set aside for nursing.
Applications for study in these fields has apparently doubled or tripled, accoriding to the minister.
“These careers, after the experience of the last few months, are appreciated as meaningful and there is huge interest in them, reflecting how young people want to do something of real use”, she noted.
Online study likely
There is to be an emphasis on the creation of places in shorter programmes and the minister said discussions are underway with university presidents over how capacity might be increased.
Among students who have just completed their first year at a French university, relatively few were deemed to have failed the year and asked to repeat it.
As with the school leavers, the end of year exams for first year university students were also replaced by an assessment based on the year's work.
The fact that most of these students will now go into their second year of study will leave some space for the huge numbers of new first year students expected, though not enough.
It is likely that a significant amount of study will take place online, with capacity in lecture theatres already reduced, to enable social distancing to combat Covid-19.