In France, the National Observatory of Discrimination and Equality in Higher Education (ONDES) was launched on Tuesday, February 15, 2022. Its first study focused on discrimination in access to master’s degrees. In March 2021, 607 masters were tested in 19 universities.
This testing campaign, which concerns access to a master’s degree, reveals that candidates of North African origin are penalized. Indeed, it is said that North African candidates who apply for a master’s degree at university have 12% less chance of obtaining an answer. Still according to the study, during a request for information, a candidate for the surname of North African origin is discriminated against in almost one out of five masters. Three messages were sent to each master’s supervisor: a message from a candidate with a first and last name of North African origin, a message from a candidate stating that he is in a wheelchair, and a message from a candidate first name and a surname of French origin, without disability. We can easily guess the result: a student who identifies himself with a first and last name with North African connotations, whether he is French or not, will have much less chance of receiving a positive response to his request for information.
In the results of the races, the candidate of French origin without a disability obtains a positive response rate of 69.7%. This rate exceeds by two points that of the candidate of French origin with a disability. On the other hand, the one you know who is the most discriminated against will only get 61.1%, a success rate much lower than the other two. That’s not all, the study also finds discrimination in the response to candidates according to their origin. Thus nearly one out of five masters gives a positive response to a candidate of French origin, but a negative response to a candidate of North African origin, which induces a discriminatory reception of a request for information from a candidate from North Africa.
Discriminatory behavior appears to be very localized and exceeds 30% in 4 establishments out of the 19 tested. Discrimination is greatest in legal courses, where 33.3% of masters are concerned, then 21.1% in science, technology, health, against 7.3% in letters, languages, arts and human and social sciences. The study breaks down the level of discrimination by major field of study. Ethnic discrimination only appears significantly in two major areas: law, economics, management, on the one hand, and science, technology, health, on the other. The most discriminating courses are thus those which receive the most applications for fifteen to twenty places offered: 414 on average, against 265 applications in the case of non-discriminating courses.
This discrimination is also harmful for the establishments and the world of work underlines the study, “from the point of view of a training manager, discrimination seems to be irrational behavior, contrary to both the interest of the training and that of the higher education establishment. It restricts the space of choice of the recruiter and deprives him of potential skills“. While for Yannick L’Horty, director of ONDES, “discrimination in access to higher education is more serious than discrimination in employment, because it has more serious consequences for the victims“. He will note, however, that it is about half as high, in comparison with corporate testing. Virginie Laval, president of the University of Poitiers, during the presentation of the results was indignant and called for an awareness “we cannot close our eyes, the results are very clear, I call for a collective awareness of French universities, especially when we know the difficulties in accessing a master’s degree. It is the question of equal opportunities that is at stake“, she said.