Higher education is part of the right to education, protected under international human rights law. This means that states have the obligation to protect respect and fulfil the right to higher education and that there are ways to hold them accountable for violations or deprivations of the right to higher education.
However, despite a comprehensive international legal framework ensuring the right to higher education without any discrimination and a wide political commitment to promote inclusion in higher education, important inequalities persist, both in terms of access to higher education and of access to the most socially rewarding degrees and programmes. Issues such as privatisation of higher education and rising tuition fees represent a threat to equal access and participation in higher education, especially in contexts where structural social inequalities - such as class, gender, or territorial inequalities - persevere. Moreover, certain groups - such as ethnic, racial, and religious minorities as well as migrants, refugees, or asylum seekers - are still widely underrepresented in higher education if compared to their proportion in the population as a whole.
These, and many other challenges regarding access and participation in higher education, can be brought to light when we carefully monitor the right to higher education. It is only by monitoring the right to higher education that adapted laws and policies which can address persistent inequalities and discriminations can be designed.
This guide proposes a human rights based approach to inequalities regarding students’ access to and participation in higher education. This guide is part of a series of thematic guidance notes providing practical advice on monitoring various aspects of the right to education from a human rights perspective.
Synthèse commissionnée par l’Initiative pour le droit à l’éducation (RTE) dans le cadre de la préparation du rapport L’enseignement supérieur en France : un droit menacé face aux inégalités croissantes ? soumis à la conférence mondiale de l’UNESCO sur l’enseignement supérieur en mai 2022.
This written statement was submitted by GI-ESCR and RTE during the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. It was submitted in relation to the presentation of the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education: Securing the right to education: advances and critical challenges (A/HRC/53/27).
This report shows how a student’s place of origin within France, that is, the region in which they live prior to the beginning of their studies, coupled with their socio-economic background can mean that the cost of education, which is heavily influenced by the structure of the French higher education system, poses a significant barrier to their enjoyment of the right to higher education.
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In her first report to the Human Rights Council, 25 years after the establishment of the mandate on the right to education, the Special Rapporteur reviews achievements, particularly on how the right to education is understood today and the obligations it entails, as well as contemporary and emerging issues that need to be considered to ensure the right to education for all, today and in the future.
Ce rapport porte sur le droit à l’enseignement supérieur et interroge le respect par la France de ses obligations concernant l'article 2.2 et l'article 13.2 (c) du Pacte international relatif aux droits économiques, sociaux et culturels (PIDESC).
Il est basé sur un projet de recherche de cinq ans développé par l'Initiative pour le droit à l'éducation (RTE) en collaboration avec des étudiant·e·s de la Clinique de droit de Sciences Po (Paris) et des chercheur·e·s de l'Université de Genève, de l'Université d'Orléans et de l'ENS Paris Saclay
Notre rapport souligne que les politiques publiques, visant à réduire les inégalités dans l'accès à l'enseignement supérieur, mises en œuvre par le gouvernement français depuis la dernière revue périodique, sont insuffisantes et doivent être renforcées et étendues. Il soutient que les inégalités structurelles, territoriales et socio-économiques ainsi que la politique de financement de l'enseignement supérieur de l'État entravent l'égalité et la non-discrimination dans l'accès à l'enseignement supérieur et renforcent la tendance à la privatisation.
This report, jointly produced by Right to Education Initiative; La FAGE, Fédération des Associations Générales Etudiantes; and Global Students Forum, focuses on the right to higher education, questioning France’s compliance with its obligations regarding article 2.2 and article 13.2 (c) of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
It is based on a five year research project developed by the Right to Education Initiative (RTE) in collaboration with students from Sciences Po Law School Clinic (Paris) and researchers from the University of Geneva, University of Orléans and ENS Paris Saclay
This submission highlights that the public policies aiming to reduce inequalities in access to higher education implemented by the French government since the last periodical reporting session are insufficient, and need to be reinforced and expanded. It argues that structural, territorial, and socio-economic inequalities as well as the State’s higher education financing policy hinder equality and non-discrimination in access to higher education and increase the privatisation trend.