Budget 2023: universities mired in uncertainty

Posted on September 26, 2022 at 16:13Updated on September 26, 2022 at 19:27

Will the increase in endowments included in the proposed budget for 2023 allow universities to keep their heads above water? On paper, the news is good, says one from the Ministry of Higher Education, where he highlights that it does not have a “decreasing” budget line.

The general budget of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research is expected to increase by €1.1 billion. The resources dedicated to higher education increase by 692 million, in particular to compensate for the increase in the index point (370 million), to continue financing the measures of the research programming law (+143 million) and for student success ( +185 million).

Move entire index point

But the index point is only partially offset. It will be up to the universities to assume the salary increases in the period from July to December 2022. “The measure was not planned for 2022…”, we justify in the ministry. The increase in the index point will be well compensated by the contract workers, but not by the additional hours of the incumbents, which represents a great financial burden, several universities have warned.

Following the alert given by the University of Strasbourg on additional energy costs, establishments will also have to absorb the rate increases. “We will analyze the availability of cash and working capital,” says one in the minister’s entourage, Sylvie Retailleau.

A “solidarity effort”

An investigation is being carried out to identify the needs of the establishments on a case-by-case basis, but the ministry warns: “We are going to ask them to make an effort of solidarity. To better measure the additional energy costs, the 120 million euros estimated at the beginning of September should be revised. “The additional costs will be seen on the invoice”, we underlined in the ministry.

Where it is specified that there will be no credits dedicated to this in the 2023 budget, but the use of “the reserve” for compensation “during or at the end of the year, depending on the cash capacities of each one” is mentioned. The amount of the precautionary reserve is 200 million euros, excluding student life.

Among the budget lines on the rise, one of them, 35 million, aims to finance multi-year contracts of objectives and resources that Sylvie Retailleau has made a priority, in the name of strengthening the autonomy of universities. The start should be gradual, with voluntary establishments at first.

Stock market reform, off-budget

The budget presented does not include the stock market reform. On this subject, a consultation should start at the beginning of October. Sylvie Retailleau had indicated, during her back-to-school conference, that she was not ruling out a first set of measures for the start of the 2023 school year. If so, the reserve or the amending finance law would be used to finance it.

As for research, the research programming law is being applied for the third year, with an additional 350 million euros and 650 jobs created. “No researcher will now earn less than two SMICs at the beginning of his career,” insists the ministry.

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