Universities on the front line to fight against student insecurity

Groceries, resources, loan of computer and 4G key, distributor of periodical protection, food parcels, service vouchers, vouchers… Never before have universities diversified their social services to such an extent. For almost two years, both material and financial aid for students has increased tenfold. A population that the crisis linked to Covid-19 “Has affected in an unprecedented way”, affirms INSEE in its social portrait of France, published at the end of November.

“The use of specific one-off aid – intended for students facing serious financial difficulties – has sharply increased during confinement and remains at an unusually high level in the first semester of 2021”, observes the institute. While 6,400 students benefited from it in spring 2019, their number doubled in one year, rising to 13,200 in April 2020. In March 2021, 11,700 students had received this aid for an average amount of 403 euros (and a maximum of 2,600 euros).

Since the start of the school year, the University of Evry has become one of the distribution centers for Restos du cœur in the department of Essonne. Once a week, sixteen volunteers are active between noon and 4 p.m. to welcome a public which remained in the minority before the health crisis.

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Like every Thursday, the queue stretches down the corridor to the entrance hall of this establishment of more than 10,000 students. Shopping bags under their arms, dozens of young people wait patiently before providing themselves with rice, pasta, yogurts, vegetables and hygiene products. “We are helping 543 students, a number that has multiplied by five since we moved to the heart of the university”, calculates Pierrette, 73-year-old volunteer. Among them, “Very few scholarship holders, but foreign or French students who are just above the threshold for the first level of aid and who are not entitled to anything”. Like Charlotte, in her third year of law school, whose parents are unable to finance her studies. Or like Yara, Tunisian in second year of biology license, who lost the job of saleswoman which allowed her to ” make ends meet “.

“We no longer afford the luxury of refusing aid”

The difficulties of the students became such that “Some Crous staff [centres régionaux pour les œuvres universitaires et scolaires] affirmed having had the feeling of changing profession during the health crisis, and of having “done humanitarian work” ”, testify the deputies Fabienne Colboc (La République en Marche, Indre-et-Loire) and Muriel Ressiguier (La France insoumise, Hérault), in a report published in July 2020 on the financing of the Crous in the context of the health crisis. Between mid-March and mid-June 2020, up to one million euros per week was paid to students in the form of food aid and rent payment aid, but also student aid. equipment in computers and 4G keys, by the social services of the CROUS and the universities.

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Universities on the front line to fight against student insecurity