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Protests in high education : French police ends university occupations

Police on Wednesday cleared protesting students out of two sites of a university in western France, following the evacuation of Paris’s Tolbiac and Montepellier’s Paul Valéry earlier this week.

 

With university holidays starting this week, there was little resistance when 50 officers moved into the Nancy site of the University of Lorraine at 6.00am. Only 19 people were there, according to the authorities, who said one person was arrested for «rebellion» and another taken to the police station for an ID check. Only five people were present at the other site, in Metz, and they left without any trouble. The occupation, part of a protest movement against plans to limit access to higher education, had prevented lectures in the buildings and forced university officials to move exams elsewhere. A large majority of students had voted to end the occupations in an internet vote but mass meetings with several hundred present had voted to carry on. On Monday police cleared occupations at two centres of the protests - Montpellier, in southern France, and the Tolbiac site of the Sorbonne in Paris. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe promised to get tough with any future occupations, claiming «radical» agitators were behind them. «I want to say quite clearly that every time university premises are confiscated by small radical groups, every time the organization of exams is targeted, we will respond with firmness,» he said after meeting Higher Education Minister Frédérique Vidal and university presidents.

REUTERS