Union Nationale des Étudiants de France

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National Union of Students of France
Union Nationale des Etudiants de France
Institution France's universities

127, rue de l'Ourcq -

75019 Paris, France
Established May 4, 1907
President Lilâ Le Bas
Members 30,000
Affiliations European Students' Union
Website http://www.unef.fr

The National Union of Students of France (Union Nationale des Étudiants de France or UNEF) is the main national students' union in France.

The organisation works to represent the interest of students towards the national and local Governments, the political parties, the government bodies concerned with higher education and the universities' administration. The organisation is also active on the international arena, particularly within the European Students' Union, ESU.


1907: UNEF foundation by the merging of many AGEs (Associations Générales d'Étudiants, Students' General Associations) from different towns at a meeting held in Lille

1946: adoption of the Charter of Grenoble which define the student as a "young intellectual worker". Since then, the UNEF has considered itself to be a part of the labour movement. The creation in France of the students' social security and welfare systems are the result of UNEF activism

1950s: the UNEF led the protest for independence of Algeria

1968: May 68 revolt. On May 27, the meeting of the UNEF, most outstanding of the events of May 68, proceeds and gathers 30.000 to 50.000 people in the Stade Sebastien Charlety.

1971 to 2001: the UNEF was split between UNEF-SE (Solidarité Étudiante, Students' solidarity) (linked to the French Communist Party) and UNEF-US (Unité Syndicale, Union Unity), which later evolved into UNEF-ID (Indépendante et Démocratique, Independence and democracy) (linked to the Internationalist Communist Organisation and close to the Socialist Party).

1986: the UNEFs led a victorious strike against student fees and selection at college admission

1995: major protest against a government project of minimum wage for youth lower than for other salaries

2001: the UNEFs eventually reunified under the name 'UNEF'.

2006: the UNEF and its chairman, Bruno Julliard, played the major role in students' contestation of the prime minister Dominique de Villepin's Contrat première embauche.


Today, the UNEF is still composed of the different AGEs. There is one AGE in each town where a university is located, except in Paris, where there is an AGE by university. Membership is individual: every student can choose to join the AGE of his/her home town.

The UNEF holds a national conference every two years. National conference is the sovereign body of the UNEF and decide the UNEF policy.

Conferences are contested by factions:

  • Majorité Nationale (National Majority): 80% of the votes in 2007
  • Tendance pour une UNEF Unitaire et Démocratique (For a unitarian and democratic UNEF): 13%
  • Tendance Refondation Syndicale (Union's refoundation): 7%

The conference also elects an administrative commission (Commission Administrative) to be the UNEF 'parliament' between conferences. The commission elects the National Board, the executive body.


The UNEF has created many national federations:

  • CECED (Comité Étudiant Contre l'Extrême Droite, Students' Committee against Far Right)
  • FERUF (Fédération des Étudiants en Résidences Universitaires de France, Resident Students Federation)
  • UCEF (Union des Coopératives Étudiantes de France, Union of Students' Cooperatives)
  • FENEC (Fédération Nationale des Étudiants Chercheurs)

The UNEF has also participated in the creation of different bodies related to students:

  • MNEF, then replaced by LMDE in 2000 (La Mutuelle Des Etudiants) which operates the students' social security system
  • ESIB in 1981, named ESU in 2007 (European Students Union)

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