The cost of student life still rising, the Unef denounces a “deadly” situation – Liberation


In a survey published on Monday, the union finds a 6.47% increase in the cost of student living. Students must pay 428 euros more per year. All expenditure items are increasing, with the exception of transport.

Everyone has in mind the images of long lines of young people stretching on the sidewalks, summer and winter, to access food distributions. The precariousness of students had already exploded with the health crisis linked to Covid-19. The war in Ukraine and galloping inflation only accentuate this already untenable situation for many. The 18th survey on the cost of living of the National Union of Students of France (UNEF), published on Monday, draws up an alarming assessment: “the cost of student living increases by another 6.47%”, more than headline inflation, which reached 6.1%. In other words, students have to pay 428 euros more per year, or 35 euros per month. As Emmanuel Macron’s second five-year term begins, we look back a few years. Over five years, the cost of living has jumped 16.8%. “Deadly years for students”, summarizes Imane Ouelhadj, president of Unef, joined by Release.

All expenditure items are up, with the exception of the price of transport. Student housing (55% of the budget) recorded an increase of 1.37%, for a rent of 563.40 euros per month on average. Figures to relate to “important mise en tension” for this 2022 school year “with strong demand linked to the return to full face-to-face in establishments and the significant increase in the number of students in higher education”. Places in Crous university residences are also still missing. Only 6% of students have access to it. The goal of building 60,000 homes before the end of the five-year term seems a long way off. “The Cnous counts only 10,723 new homes between 2017 and 2021”, indicates the report. The crisis is not sparing the private fleet either, “in the big cities, it’s war on who can find the best housing offer as quickly as possible”, notes the President. Some young people do it as early as June to make sure they have a roof over their head at the start of the school year. “It shows in the budget, they have all the rent to pay during the summer without having scholarships”, she regrets.

With inflation of 6.7% on food products, it even becomes “more and more complicated for a student to eat properly.” On the shelves, pasta is priced up by 15% and coffee by 23%. “The package of pasta that I paid 0.80 cents now costs me 1.10 euros. We arrive in a situation in 2022 where students have to think between paying their bills, their rent or eating properly. This is sometimes done to the detriment of the pursuit of studies”, deplores the president of the Unef. The government’s decision to maintain the Crous meal at 1 euro only for scholarship recipients and beneficiaries of APL under the purchasing power law appears all the more disconnected from needs. “The 73% of students without scholarships”, therefore do not have access to it and are “Hit hard by a drastic price increase”, denounce the investigation. “This scholarship system takes into account the situation of the parents, not of the student. Not everyone can be helped by their parents, some are broken with their family, a large part of the middle class toasts for a hundred euros “too much” on the tax notice”, supports Imane Ouelhadj. In addition to accommodation and food, there are compulsory registration fees: 170 euros for a bachelor’s degree, 243 euros for a master’s degree for French and European students. Since 2018 and a strongly contested reform, they amount to 1,170 euros and 2,770 euros for foreign students outside the EU.

Female students more precarious

Women are part, alongside overseas students, of the most precarious students. “On the one hand, the social norm to which these students are subject forces them to additional expenses: hair removal products, make-up when certain circumstances require it or the largely additional cost of women’s clothes”, enumerates the survey. And that’s not counting the costs related to menstruation: periodic protection, underwear, pain medication and gynecological follow-up. “The difference in the cost of living between menstruating and non-menstruating people amounts to €274.86 per year”, is it written. The establishment of free period protection dispensers in each Crous university and residence, promoted by former minister Frédérique Vidal to combat menstrual poverty, also comes up against a complex reality on the ground. “Not all buildings are equipped with it and restocking is difficult. There is no additional budget for someone to go around the university every day to put on pads. There are places where you can wait several days without anything in the dispenser,” notes Imane Ouelhadj.

The 4% increase in scholarships, announced in July by the Minister of Higher Education Sylvie Retailleau, appears as necessary as it is insufficient. Depending on the levels, the increase will rise from 4.17 euros per month (the lowest and most widespread level) to 22.94 euros. The government is pursuing its policy of small steps. According to the organization, “Macron is the one who has invested the least over the past fifteen years, with 21.13% less investment in direct aid than during Nicolas Sarkozy’s five-year term and 55.86% less than during that of François Hollande.” Faced with a system of social assistance that has run out of steam, Unef for its part is proposing the establishment of a “universal aid” in the form of an autonomy allowance of 1,102 euros. A way to allow everyone to study in the best conditions without having to pay.


Source: Libération by www.liberation.fr.

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