The government attempted to defuse the anger on Wednesday caused by the attempted suicide of a student who set himself alight to protest the hardships of his university life.
The 22-year-old student suffered burns on 90 per cent of his body after attempting to take his life outside a university building in Lyon last Friday.
The man, who had recently lost his student grant and whose identity was withheld for privacy reasons, remains in serious condition in hospital.
President Emmanuel Macron deplored the student’s “tragic” gesture at a cabinet meeting Wednesday and expressed his “empathy and compassion”, government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye said.
On Tuesday, several hundred students demonstrated in Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux and Paris, where protesters tore down the gate of the higher education ministry and scrawled “financial insecurity kills” on the wall.
The government is warily watching the demonstrations, fearing they could feed into continuing gilets jaunes unrest and bolster calls for mass strike action over pension reforms on December 5.