I was a little bit stunned to realize yesterday that my working conditions — as a lowly graduate student at the University of Chicago — are in a sense markedly better than those of a typical French public university professor. You see, the University of Chicago owns a building in Paris where they give us, the visiting grad students, office space. But if you are a Maître de Conférences (somewhat like an associate professor) at, say, the University of Paris-8 (Saint-Denis), you get no work space whatsoever, aside from a cramped class preparation lounge where you can leave your coat while you teach your class. University professors in Saint-Denis, unless they are also administrators, must either find office space elsewhere or work at home.
Now I could tell you all sorts of other things about how my home university, a very rich private American university, is different from the French public universities I’ve encountered. But I’ve looked up some figures and, frankly, the sheer quantitative difference between Paris-8 and UChicago is so enormous that it almost speaks for itself. Behold:
|Students||21,487||15,149||1.4 : 1|
|Faculty||1,075||2,211||1 : 2.1|
|Staff||601||~12,000||1 : 20|
|# Buildings||11||more than 190||1 : 17|
|Annual Budget||€119.3 million||$2.8 billion||1 : 16.8|