Scientists in France are criticizing the government for abolishing the age limit in competitive exams for permanent, entry-level positions in research organizations, saying the move will dampen the career prospects of young scientists.

The vast majority of scientists working in France's government-run research organizations -- such as National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and France's Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) – have to pass an exam before accepting government research jobs. If hired, they can look forward to a relatively stable job, and incremental yearly increases in pay. Scientists who earn permanent, entry-level positions – known as CR2 – can later move between government research organizations and universities, a result of mutual agreements, and gradually move up the ranks.

Until last month, all scientists taking the exam for a CR2 position had to be less than 31 years old. The age limit was established to give young scientists...

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