French students agree to 'selection' for master's degrees

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The issue of whether students wanting to do master's degrees should be subject to a selection process is a controversial one in France, particularly with students themselves and on the political Left. Now, however, the socialist government has struck an agreement allowing French universities to limit numbers and “recruit” candidates for master's courses. In return, students turned down for the course of their choice will get a legal right to “continue their studies” and will have to be offered alternatives. Faïza Zerouala reports.

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It has long been a political and educational minefield. The issue of whether universities should be allowed to restrict access to master's degrees and select the candidates they want is deeply controversial, particularly among students and politicians on the Left who are historically opposed to the idea. Currently selection only takes place in France for access to the second year of the two-year master's degrees, and that only in around 40% of courses.