Faced with the risk of “dropping out” of French research, Parliament must definitively adopt on Friday the programming bill (LPR), “a historic investment” according to the government, which faces increased mistrust of the academic and scientific community .
The final parliamentary green light is expected at midday in the Senate. The Assembly has already adopted the text on Tuesday by 188 votes to 83.
Throughout the debates, the Minister of Research Frédérique Vidal, former researcher and university president, has continued to praise an “unprecedented investment“, thanks to this 30% increase in the budget between 2021 and 2030, from 15 to 20 billion per year.
“The message is that there is a future, it is being prepared by restoring the attractiveness of the research professions”, she underlines to AFP, by insisting on the upgrading of careers or the complementary role of the “stimulus plan”, to release funds quickly.
In opposition, left and right criticize a ten-year program “far too long”, without assurance on future investments.
For more guarantees, at the instigation of the Senate, the parliamentarians included in the text the impact of the recovery plan in favor of the National Research Agency in 2021 and 2022, as well as a reinforced increase in funding for “base” of laboratories, from the first years.
This programming bill is nonetheless strongly criticized within the university community. Unions and researchers mobilized criticize a “trompe l’oeil reform”, funding focused on “selective” research, by “projects”, and an “attack” on the status of civil servant, because of new ways of recruiting young researchers .
The text provides for “tenure tracks” to the American (“tenure tracks”), to access a tenure after six years maximum, as well as “CDI of scientific mission”, supposed to replace the CDD repeatedly, but ending with the associated research project.
According to Frédérique Vidal, this replaces short contracts and offers “visibility”.
– “600 emails per day”
At the beginning of 2020, the text had provoked a major protest movement, stopped by the confinement of March. Muted because of the health crisis, the protest has sharpened in recent weeks, thanks to controversial amendments voted in the Senate.
The first, on the “offense of obstruction”, aims to penalize the intrusions of outsiders in the universities, if they disturb the “peace or the good order” of the establishment. The left criticizes a “liberticidal” measure.
The second undermines the role of the National Council of Universities (CNU) in the recruitment of teacher-researchers: an experiment will allow universities to waive the obligation to recruit a person qualified by the CNU.
This risks favoring “mandarinates” and “local recruitments”, denounces law professor Véronique Champeil-Desplats (Nanterre), opposed to the law. “While people were rather resigned, the Senate amendments exacerbated anger and woke up colleagues,” she said, including in disciplines not very inclined to challenge.
In the Senate, rapporteur LR Laure Darcos receives “600 emails a day” against the law and “the CNU amendment”: “It’s a disproportionate storm. We are talking about an experiment, not everyone is concerned” , underlines the parliamentarian, who abstained on this point, while her group largely supported the device.
Frédérique Vidal has already promised a “consultation phase” to “draft the decree” on the CNU.
On Tuesday, several hundred teacher-researchers gathered at the Place de la Sorbonne, behind signs like “university in danger” and “black screen”, in reference to an operation on social networks.
In the National Assembly, the mathematician deputy and ex-LREM Cédric Villani, who has long supported the text and his “good money”, ended up voting against, deploring a “sloppy” final “compromise that does not do justice to the work carried out “.
However, there is consensus on certain measures, such as the promise to guarantee monthly payment to “temporary workers”, these precarious workers who suffer regular delays in the payment of their hours.
And the preamble of the text is based on a widely shared observation: France suffers from a “growing investment deficit” in its research and “scientific careers are attracting less and less”.