The dramatic impact of coronavirus on French students

“Students still alive! (But for how long?)” Students’protest for the reopening of the university, Wednesday 20 January in Strasbourg, credit: Rue89 Strasbourg

Before the pandemic, many French students were already suffering from serious economic and psychological fragilities. And even if the situation “seemed to be improving”, the health crisis caused a brutal halt. Indeed, it is not difficult to imagine the dramatic consequences that the health crisis can have on the psychological and material conditions of many students in France.

Teenagers cannot see the end of the tunnel. While a third lockdown could begin in a few days, students are increasingly worried about their future and their mental health.

“I was moved to see students who wanted to commit suicide. For the first time in my life, I myself thought about my own death a few weeks ago,” says Jennyfer Simet, a third-year business school student in Nantes.

Credit: French Ministry of Education

A survey by the statistical service of the Ministry of Education indicates a considerable number, 970,000 students (among 1,675,100 students enrolled in universities in France and the French overseas departments and territories) dropped out of school during the lockdown. These statistics do not cover the post-lockdown period, in which many students gradually dropped out. These are alarming figures, considering that the pandemic seems to be far from over.

“It’s hard, it’s been a year since I am all alone with myself in my 18m2. On Monday, I received my first course in PDF and “deal with it”. There are teachers who don’t even make the effort to make visuals conferences any more,” explains Thomas Louet, a student at the University of Letters in Nice.

credit: Drobot Dean / Adobe Stock

Laurie Hautet, a second year student at the communication school in Nice explains that not only her, but also her classmates have difficulties staying focused for several hours behind their computers.

“I distract myself super easily. After a few minutes, I look at my phone and start talking to my friends. It’s almost impossible to follow a course from the beginning until the end without doing something else”.

LAURIE HAUTET

Furthermore, nearly all the students have lost their part-time jobs, such as baby-sitting, which has been considerably reduced due to the absence of any sort of entertainment, as well as jobs in the catering. Consequently, they find themselves in a very precarious situation.

Émilie Lucet, a 19-year-old student in Angers, is left without any resources.

“Normally, I work regularly in the restaurant business,” she says. Since March, it’s been impossible. I don’t have a scholarship and I no longer have contact with my parents. I had a 1,000 euros debt on my bank account.”

ÉMILIE LUCET

In sum, it is clear that all of these pressures: the increased isolation for some, the material difficulties of daily life for others, the restrictions placed on friendly sociability for all, inevitably aggravate the psychological tensions from which students can suffer.

However, according to the decree n°2021-105 of 2 February 2021, universities are now authorised to receive students of all levels, to have access to training and educational support activities within the limit of a number of users not exceeding 20% of the institution’s capacity. This can bring new hope for all our French students.

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