French riot police raided a university in Paris Friday to evict students who occupied it over education reforms amid a months-long standoff between trade unions and President Emmanuel Macron.
Around a hundred officers took part in the dawn raid on the 22-storey tower block dominating the Tolbiac campus, one of several French faculties occupied in an echo of the momentous student-led protests of May 1968. The Tolbiac campus, part of Paris 1 university, has been one of the flashpoints in the movement.
Railworkers, civil servants, retirement home workers, lawyers and students have all demonstrated in recent weeks over Macron's shake-up of the public service, but so far failed to knock him off course.
A day of nationwide protests Thursday drew only around half as many people as a month ago, disappointing those who have been dreaming of a major showdown.
Students began occupying campuses in March over a new law that introduce an element of selection for access to university degree courses for the first time.
Some of the students threw bottles and other objects at the police when they moved in on Friday, an Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalist at the scene said. One person was arrested on charges of rebellion.
"We did not resist," one masked protester told AFP, saying that the around 100 students holed up inside were "tired."
The entrance of the site which was guarded by police Friday, was littered with tables, banners, beer bottles, rubbish bags and other objects. The chancellor Georges Haddad accused the students of causing damage worth "several hundred thousands of euros" over the course of their sit-in.
"This is the nation's money that is being wasted," he said, expressing "relief" that the protesters had been dislodged.
Until now, French students who pass their school-leaving exams have been able to enroll in any three-year degree course at a public university of their choosing. The government says some selection criteria are needed to bring down a high student failure rate and tackle rampant overcrowding, which forced some faculties to resort to a lottery system to allocate places last year. Leftist parties and students unions are resisting the changes, which they see as an infringement of the right to education for all.
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