The democratisation of the student population in France in the 1960s led to a quick growth of two groups: the assistant professors and the newly created associate professors. After the bill prepared by Edgar Faure was passed in 1968, thus paving the way to the constitution of autonomous universities, the statutes of the academics changed quite often. The modifications used to result both from struggles by academics, for instance about the job security of assistant professors and of part-time lecturers between 1968 and 1983, from diverging conceptions of academic policies and from changes in actual work practices which led some of the actors to raise new issues. We focus here on the official reports, the reforms and counter-reforms and the compromises which are the foundations of the current schemes. Over the 50 years between 1960 and today we find a number of major trends around which the left and the right finally converged: the simplification of academic positions into two main categories, the closer connection between the various schemes and the evolution of doctoral studies, the importance of the tension between the autonomy of each academic and the autonomy of each university. On the latter issue, we find a similar debate at the end of the 19th century, when the Parliament of the Third Republic discussed two major bills on universities.
By Jean-Yves Merindol