INFO FRANCEINFO. Precariousness: a quarter of doctoral students cannot support themselves, according to a study by Fage

A quarter of doctoral students cannot support themselves. This is what the Federation of General Student Associations (Fage) indicates, which publishes a study on the precariousness of these students and which franceinfo reveals on Tuesday, September 20. Fanny Sarkissian, vice-president of the student union the Federation of General Student Associations (Fage), denounces on franceinfo “a dissonance between the excellence of research that can be advocated by the government and the reality on the ground”. The first student union notes that in ten years, France has lost 10,000 doctoral students. This difficulty of access to the third cycle is the sign, according to Fage, of a lack of information and of equal opportunities to reach the doctorate. But it is research funding that is “the main issue”.

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Today nearly a quarter of doctoral students do not receive funding from their first year. “It is time to put an end to their precariousness”, says the Fage. The union points to research conditions that are degraded. Living conditions have repercussions on their research work and their professional integration is mostly synonymous with stress. “We still have 24% who say they have been victims of gender-based or sexual violence, moral harassment, discrimination within the framework of their doctorate”, says the vice-president of the union.

With its survey of 2,000 doctoral students since May 30, 2022, Fage draws up several observations and makes proposals to remedy this precariousness. 20% of people who responded to the survey said they had not benefited from any guidance system before registering. And nearly one in three (28%) have experienced difficulties in obtaining funding and denounce administrative delays as well as discrimination related to disability, gender or age. La Fage calls for facilitating the process of access to the third cycle by fighting against inequalities in enrollment thanks in particular to the creation of a national information and orientation platform.

La Fage also notes that over the year 2020-2021, 74% of researchers received funding to carry out their thesis, while 26% obtained funding that did not allow them to meet their needs. 23% even had to work while writing their thesis, mostly to meet their daily needs. The union pleads for an increase in the minimum salary of all doctoral students so that it takes into account their level of qualification.

The results of the Fage survey also encourage us to offer healthy research conditions. This notably involves compliance with a weekly rest period of at least 24 consecutive hours, the obligation of a daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours, and the use of days off.

“Today, we need to stop paying doctoral students who teach below the minimum wage. It’s not normal today that at bac +8, we are paid so little”.

Fanny Sarkissian, vice-president of Fage

at franceinfo

The living conditions of doctoral students judged “unacceptable” by Fage. It calls for each researcher to have access to a funded doctoral contract. “One in four do not have an employment contract. And that has a negative impact on their working conditions, on research, for 40% of them”, says Fanny Sarkissian.

For the union, access to scholarships based on social criteria is “an essential emergency measure”. According to the survey, 81% of those questioned are also in favor of it. In addition, Fage calls for improving the reality of the conditions for international mobility and raising the conditions for professional integration to the height of the title of doctor. “It is time to raise our voices and make our demands loud and clear to improve the research and living conditions of doctoral students!”hammers the Fage.

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