Диалектика объединений и разъединений, или застенчивый вальс французских университетов

Translated title of the contribution: Hesitation waltz at French universities: union and disunion dialectics

Michele Debrenne, Dominique Crozat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article details the stages of clustering of the French higher education system in order to increase the visibility of French universities and their attractiveness among international students, which led to profound structural changes: if after 1970 the number of universities was artificially increased by dividing larger universities into smaller ones, in 2006 and then in 2013 the reverse process was carried out, the universities were merged and "Poles" and "communities" uniting universities, higher schools, research laboratories and other institutions were created. On the first stage, research units were merged into "Thematic Networks for Advanced Research" (RTR, Reseaux thematiques de recherche avancee) and universities founded "Research and Formation Clusters" (PRES, Poles de recherche et d'enseignement superieur). By 2012 27 clusters were created, some of them received special financial support from the French government through the IDEX excellence program. In 2013 PRES had to become "Communities of Universities and Institutions" (COMUE, communaute d'universites et etablissements), a different form of cluster, which can be taken into account as a higher educational institution (HEI) by international ranking agencies. In this article, using the example of Montpellier and Bordeaux, the authors retrace the difficulties of the union process. In Montpellier and Bordeaux, a unique university could not be afforded (University of Montpellier + Montpellier-3 University, University of Bordeaux + Bordeaux Montaigne University). In Paris, by 2006, when the process of clusterisation began, there where 17 universities and 143 engineering schools. For the moment one can determine about 10 clusters, representing form 2 to about 15 HEIs each. The process is not finished, and every year one can hear about the splitting of a cluster or the merging of two universities. The article tells further the history of the Sorbonne, the most well-known French university. On the one hand, it is by now only a building in which different HEI hold their lectures. On the other hand, different HEIs put the word "Sorbonne" in their name even if they are not located in this very building in the Latin Quarter in Paris. The authors warn international partners of French universities about the signification of some Parisian universities. "Paris University" (Universite de Paris) is only "one of the universities in Paris" and "Sorbonne University" (Sorbonne Universite) is not the only university in Paris having a link with the Sorbonne (one should not forget about Universite Sorbonne Paris-Cite). In conclusion, one can hardly say that French universities have become more visible on the international market, which was the main objective of this campaign.
Translated title of the contributionHesitation waltz at French universities: union and disunion dialectics
Original languageRussian
Pages (from-to)156-167
Number of pages12
JournalVestnik tomskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta-Filosofiya-Sotsiologiya-Politologiya-Tomsk state university journal of philosophy sociology and political science
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

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