Blamont: US Recipes Needed to Save French Universities

Jessica Montgomery reports on www.aacrao.org:

Following the continuing decline of French universities in global higher education rankings, Jacques Blamont, researcher and professor for 49 years in France and in the United States, offered his suggestions to Le Monde newspaper for improving French higher education.

While applauding the work of higher education minister Valérie Pécresse in giving universities increasing autonomy, he bemoaned the lagging of French universities in the areas of research and teaching behind U.S. institutions. He also pointed to the discrepancies in funding between U.S. and French institutions. While an institution like the University of Michigan receives approximately $320 million from the state of Michigan, it also receives $830 million from tuition, $900 million from contracts and $150 million from real estate revenue, totaling $2.2 billion. In comparison, a French institution receiving $320 million from the government receives $0 from tuition, $0 from contracts and $0 from other revenue, rendering its total budget at 1/7 that of the University of Michigan.

He called on French institutions to start charging students tuition — while offering generous financial aid for needy students — not only to increase funding but also to provide students with a student life that enhances their college experience. Secondly, he argued, France should copy the U.S. admissions process. Currently, at French institutions all students with high school diplomas are accepted into public universities, creating a huge number of students who drop out or start over after their first year. This is costly to both institutions and students and could be avoided by a selective admissions process. Thirdly, institutions should partner with companies to benefit from increased research funding. Currently, half of internal research funding in France is covered by businesses compared to two-thirds in the United States.

Le Monde
Original French language story here

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