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22.01.2021 Europe

'No return to normal before September', Macron tells university students

By Paul Myers - RFI
LISTEN JAN 22, 2021

French President Emmanuel Macron has delivered a blunt message to university students that there would be no return to the traditional buzz of campus life before the start of the next academic year in September due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking during an exchange with undergraduates from Paris-Saclay University, Macron said: “I won't lie to you. We are in a period of uncertainty.

“The real difficulty that we have is that I can't say to you how the pandemic will be in a fortnight and what restrictions it will mean.

“Until the summer we'll have to live with these limitations so the second term will be full of restrictions.

"What we've got to do is look forward to a return to normal at the start of the next academic year by which time I hope we will have slowed down what is happening.”

Return to campus

On Wednesday, thousands of students took to streets in cities across France to complain about cancelled lectures and classes moving online.

Student union leaders have complained that pupils are suffering from depression and loneliness due to lack of contact with other students as well as teachers.

Macron, attempting to allay their concerns, said students should have the same rights as workers and should be able to physically attend classes once a week.

“It's a set up that will be quite complicated to manage," said Macron of the health protocols that will have to be established.

"I'm not saying it's easy but I have confidence in your managers and in the university presidents and their teams.


Macron also addressed the state of student financing with guarantees of two meals a day for the price of one euro a meal in university restaurants.

Until now, the one-euro meal was only on to students receiving special grants.

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