University of Brest: despite budget cuts, the financial situation continues to deteriorate

Three years after the vote of an adjustment program aimed at restoring its finances, the University of Western Brittany (UBO) accuses a lack of means that worries the student associations.

Hard blow for the University of Brest. In April 2019, the Board of Directors of the University of Western Brittany (UBO) approved the “Pari” plan (Adjustment Program for the recovery of investments) in response to the budget difficulties of the establishment, the deficit amounted to to almost two million euros in 2017. But three years later, the rebalancing of finances does not seem to have prevented the deterioration of students’ working conditions, as Franceinfo reports.

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Volume reduction for now

The Pari plan initially consists of reducing by 60,000 hours the hourly volume dedicated to all training between 2019 and 2022, that is to say a reduction of about one sixth of the lessons. At the moment, this measure should save 2.5 million euros. This decision is confirmed by the Board of Directors on November 25, 2021, which ultimately expects a 10% drop in the training offer in 2027. Matthieu Gallou, president of the UBO, congratulates later in an interview given to Western France the day after the satisfactory results achieved by the program. This allows the university to launch a recruitment campaign for 48 administrative staff and tenured professors in 2022.

But the rebalancing of the budget made an aggravation of the lack of financial and human resources allocated to the training of students. In November 2021, Matthieu Gallou lamented that the 7% increase in state subsidies granted to the UBO between 2017 and 2021 did not compensate for the 25% increase in the number of students over the same period. The Federation of Student Associations of Western Brittany (“Fédé B”) then opposed the launch of the Pari plan. In a video published on Twitter on November 16, 2021, its president Estelle Blouch expresses her dissatisfaction with a “a dramatic situation”: : “The reduction of training hours will lead to a reduction of knowledge. The reduction of TP and TD in favor of lessons will lead to a reduction of the students’ technique. What is to be feared is also the closure of certain formations. What we denounce is the State’s underfunding of our university, it is the State’s abandonment of its educational mission, which is fundamental in democracy.

“The problem is the state underfunding of our university”

The reduction in hourly training volume mainly takes the form of grouping and pooling of TP and TD. The components of the UBO are also digging into their funds to partially compensate for this fall, up to 17,000 hours planned for the beginning of the school year 2022. For Baptiste Le Masson, in charge of the file of the Pari plan to Fédé B, “The question is whether the constituents will keep this funding for five years or if it will cost them too much”. At the risk of seeing the loss of class hours worse. Fed B understands that if the university is forced to assume this loss, it is not lightheartedly. “The fundamental problem is the state underfunding of our university. The funding absolutely does not follow the needs represented by the reception of 24,000 students.insists Baptiste Le Masson.

The UBO, like many French universities facing the same problem, is trying to find alternative sources of funding: calls for projects, the France Relance plan in particular. “These funds are not sustainable”, shade Baptiste Le Masson. We have to wait for the beginning of the 2022 school year to measure the direct consequences of the Pari plan for each training course. The opening of two masters in literature and social sciences has already been postponed to the beginning of the 2023 school year.

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