Budget: university presidents worried about having to “curb their projects”

Posted Sep 3, 2023, 4:27 PM

The start of the academic year looks like a cold shower. “The budget of our ministry, even in increase, will not cover all” of the purchasing power measures “neither in 2023 nor in 2024”, announced the Minister of Higher Education, Sylvie Retailleau, to the university presidents gathered in congress in Paris, at the end of last week.

Salary measures (increase in the index point and purchasing power bonus) were announced in mid-June by the Minister of the Civil Service, Stanislas Guerini, in particular for civil servants in categories B and C.

400 million at stake for 2024

To save money, Bercy had indicated at the end of July that he was going recover more than a billion with state operators. Sylvie Retailleau therefore confirms that universities will be among the public operators affected by this levy as part of the 2024 budget.

For all universities, the cost of measures on purchasing power represents around 130 million euros for 2023, according to estimates by France Universities, the ociation of their presidents. For 2024, this cost is around 300 million and rises to 400 million if higher education and research are taken into account.

The Minister indicates that she has asked her services to do their best to “compensate for the corresponding means [aux] new measures”, but “there will be no miracle, and for 2023 and 2024, these compensations can only be partial”, she warned. “We will have to look at how to mobilize your undesignated reserves or your available margins, I am thinking of working capital. »

Dipping into working capital: Manuel Valls ventured there in 2015 , causing an uproar. “When you can’t borrow – which is unfortunately the case for universities – you have to put money aside to deal with imponderables and for big investment projects, confides Guillaume Gellé, head of of France Universities. So yes, when you look at working capital, there is money. But is it actually available? Of course we will miss this money. »

Energy renovation, “hit”

He will first lack to finance energy renovation “We cannot, on the one hand, ask universities to finance measures in which the State is committed and, on the other hand, dip into the money provided for energy renovation”, continues Guillaume Frozen. The premises of the universities represent 20% of the real estate heritage of the State, recall their presidents.

“The mobilization of working capital has partly impacted the investment project for thermal renovation”, admits Sylvie Retailleau, while asking not to “give up on current projects”. The announced cuts will also have repercussions on investment in research infrastructure and the renewal of human resources, while a large wave of departures of teacher-researchers and researchers is looming by 2030, point out the establishments.

“We fear not being able to renovate our campuses and not being able to give students the best training conditions,” warns Guillaume Gellé. If this measure is confirmed, it would force our establishments “to slow down on all subjects”.

“A flammable tail for the start of the school year”

The president of France Universities underlines “the contradictions”, “at the highest summit of the State”, between a priority displayed for higher education and research, and reality.

Another announcement caused the universities to jump on Friday: the creation envisaged, by Emmanuel Macron, of new normal schools to train teachers, who could be outside the universities. “Between that and the budget, we have an inflammable tail for the start of the school year! “predicts the president of a university in the Ile-de-France region.

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