This year, it is not Covid that is questioning the presidents of universities or large schools, but the price of raw materials such as electricity. An interview with the president of Gustave Eiffel University, an institution that shines in the latest edition of the prestigious Shanghai thematic ranking.
How was the beginning of the new school year at your university?
With many projects, everything goes well, without great difficulty and completely face to face. Increasing energy costs are affecting budgets weighing on all universities today. We have to imagine new, less greedy technical solutions. In 2023, the price of electricity is expected to increase by 240%. For us, this means several million euros.
Can this be done to the detriment of students?
That is the whole question. We’ll make sure that’s not the case, but we have to consider a few scenarios. Will we be forced to close the premises? Should we restore distance learning? Reduce class hours? So many topics that we study closely while tracking our expenses. We need to support young people, but this can only be done with resources and therefore public assistance.
How do you envision the student experience at Gustave Eiffel?
Admissions, catering, digital technology in buildings or administration… there are so many topics that we certainly deal with to promote student success. Health is also a topic we are following closely, especially after covid. Sports is also an aspect that seems very important to me. Thanks to CVEC (contribution to student and campus life, ed) we make progress on equipment and support student initiatives.
Are universities making progress in education?
Our company is one of the first to make progress in this field. We have our own CFA for engineers, but we cover all subjects and all levels (history, science, management, etc.). To date, 24% of our students, all courses combined, are on apprenticeships. Which Gustave Eiffel ranks first among French universities. The state must continue to support this training method, which offers excellent integration rates and allows us to expand our training offerings.
Was Parcoursup effective this year?
Obviously, the Parcoursup process is quite efficient for assigning students. We have completed about 95% of our programs. Of course, there can be disappointment, but entering the university does not exclude opportunity limitations. We are obliged to limit access to the number of places possible.
What advice would you give to future graduates?
Above all, don’t wait until Parcoursup opens in January to ask. I recommend that even first graders get information and start developing a business plan. Orientation is a very serious matter that cannot be done at the last minute. High school students can also discover what we have to offer and the atmosphere of the university.
Interview with Gilbert Azule