franceblog8.jpg  Printemps des Chaises - one of the Protest Actions by French University Teachers French University teachers are now into the fourth month of a strike, demanding the end to Sarkozy's 'reform' of the higher education system The policy - rushed in by the Sarkozy government in August 2007 is called the 'Liberties and Responsibilities of the Universities Act' (LRU). It transforms univeristies into quasi-corporate bodies giving huge powers to university presidents who would become like Chief Executive Officers virrtually free of academic staff control, and with extensive powers of hiring and promotion. The reforms were not negotiated with university unions and would see many staff having their teaching load considerably increased if the University President judges their research as not being 'sufficient.' Not only this but there are massive cutbacks in higher education resulting in the freezing of posts and the increased use of staff on temporary contracts. Funding for research would rely much more heavily on private corporations - thus skewing research towards areas considered to be profitable and making it ever more difficult for the smaller universities to survive. The contract will also have an impact on school teachers since it abolishes the annee de stage, the system whereby new teachers had a year divided between training and classroom experiencs. The strike started on February 2nd and has involved many actions as well as a refusal to teach classes. For example the teachers organised public readings of the first French novel La Princesse de Cleves in town squares in response to Sarkozy's ridiculing the study of such books as irrelevant. They have held a 'funeral of the universities' and a trial of Sarkozy and organised an action entitled 'the Springtime of the Chairs' where all the chairs were taken out of lecture rooms and made into 'protest sculptures'. There have been weekly demonstrations attracting thousands of people and campuses have been occupied. A non-stop, 24 hour hour picket is staged infront of the square outside Paris City Hall.