Submitted by Stuti Modi on France’s Constitutional Council long-awaited decision concerning the lawfulness of Parcoursup, a national algorithmic platform that assists in the selection process of students in undergraduate courses.
In Contemporary Societies, an emphasis on Meritocratic Narratives is made to justify their inequalities concerted by the narratives indebted. The dilemma, however, persists with the existence of a yawning gap between our pretentious meritocratic declaration and the realities.
Lack of Adequate Transparency
Is it fair to make the students a part of the race they do not even know the rules of? The secrecy with which universities exercise their discretion in deciding their own algorithm for the selection process leads to arbitrariness. The inclusion of human actors in the decision-making process, in the wake of lack of complete transparency in regard to the benchmarks being used by them, does not guarantee legitimacy.
Further, the idea was not to promote anxiety among students due to the opaqueness of the Decision-making process. The lack of complete transparency further raises apprehensions of their adversities and lack of sense of entitlement being used to discriminate against them, yet again.
Possibility of Discrimination
The entire purpose behind adopting Parcoursup was to deal with the fundamental problem of Discrimination and aimed at Operationalising Equity to ensure fairness and justice. The rationale of adopting an automated selection process of students was not just to pretentiously recognise the disadvantaged position of some students but also to compensate for their misfortune and adversity to enable everyone to attain equal opportunity. The primary aim is to promote socio-economic, racial, gender equity in education.
In the United States, the income of one’s parents almost entirely determines the chances of acceding to higher education. Possibly, in France, the situation is not quite as extreme. However, the truth is that we really do not know due to the impossibility of access to such data.
Disregard to law?
The law states that the percentage of low-income student per academic track will be fixed, with no further details. In relation to which it has been announced on multiple occasion to make the source code of Parcoursup available to the public in its entirety, without fixing a particular date.
Further, the law also stipulates that the best people in each stream in each school will have priority access to all the courses. However, in practice, it is being applied in a totally opaque and purely symbolic manner. Consideration of making such source code available and if so then when still remains a mystery!
Comparison with SyRI
The lawfulness of Parcoursup can not be validated by conveniently assuming that unlike SyRI, it does not analyse and make nuanced link extensive data. Relevantly, the threat is linked to the enlightenment and ambiguity of the criteria actually being deployed. Moreover, the possibility of racial discrimination can not baselessly be rejected.
Further, generic and publicly available information about the operation of Parcoursup does not answer the question of adequacy.
Undisputedly, the reform in the student university entry admission system by the shift from APB to the Parcoursup platform is potentially promising. However, it is unfortunately feared that all it will only do is reinforce inequality and opaqueness, ultimately defeating the very purpose of its adoption.
There still exists complex questions which no country has resolved in a completely satisfactory manner. The challenges of consistency in adopting the system in a manner compatible with public law principles persist along with a lack of objective criteria and continuous monitoring process. However, the duality exists with the government setting up a policy for transparency and then the adjudicators validating the opaque process on the basis of declaring it to be Partially Transparent. The precedential impact of which can be to normalise in addition to opaqueness, inequality, austerity for the less well-off and an unanswered arbitrariness.
To understand the development, please refer to https://juridique.defenseurdesdroits.fr/doc_num.php?explnum_id=18803
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