Engineering Education in France......

Interview of Prof. Jean-Pierre Trotignon, Executive Director of the "n + i", conducted by Ms. Sarah Piovezan - Journalist AEF, news agency  AEF - specialized for over 14 years in higher education, research and innovation

"The real cost of engineering education in France is € 15 000 per year with “n+i” Engineering Network - French engineering schools with a difference.

Jean-Pierre Trotignon, Executive Director of the "n + i"

"The added value of the offer of French engineering schools abroad is a cultural experience, a way of thinking and working. Companies want us to have this approach because they want graduates who speak English but who also know the French language and culture. This is a step above the classic offer to the world, "explains Jean-Pierre Trotignon, Executive Director of network engineering schools" n + i ", which assists in recruiting foreign students for the 70 engineering schools that have partnered with us for now 15 years. "Our approach is demanding. We also explain to applicants that the real cost of engineering education in France is € 15 000 per year, so € 30,000 over two years. The difference with other countries is that each student is assisted by the French State, which bear 95% shall cost.

Jean-Pierre Trotignon also explained that with the assistance of “n+i” Engineering Network “Entrepreneurs in Africa", has already helped create hundreds of local jobs with technical expertise given by the engineering schools network to local Entrepreneurs.

AEF: What is the role of the network "n + i", the "n" means "national training standard" and "i", "international education"?

Jean-Pierre Trotignon: The n + i network is born as a result of an investigation conducted by the CDEFI at the request of the ministry of higher education in 1996, the foreign students in French engineering schools. This investigation had resulted in recommendations which were to say that schools should better take into account cultural and methodological differences for foreign students, as well as the language differences. An experimental program was launched with the British, which led to the recruitment of a dozen students in British engineering universities participating with “n+i”. Then the program was developed and enhanced. The idea is to offer a "package" of services, which we call the "career success “n + i" for foreign students. It includes personalized assistance (reception, transport, opening accounts, insurance, etc.), a linguistic integration (with FLE and cultural supplements) and methodological integration (the first semester of the course topics are tailor-made for foreign students in smaller class sizes), for a total of 7 000 euros.

AEF: What is the structure "n + i" and how do you recruit?

Jean-Pierre Trotignon: Today, the network consists of six permanent members, three representatives abroad and correspondents in the 70 member schools (1). Foreign student must have a bachelor’s degree and submit a portfolio on our website (transcripts for four years, motivation letter, future goals, etc). Last year we had 4,000 online applications, from a hundred countries. We performed a first validation of about 1000 records. Engineering schools have access to these files and make offers to students. In 2012, 600 students received an admission offer. The candidate are then required to classify the admission offers in order of their personal preference, and in 95% of cases, they get their first choice. But in the end, only 220 foreign students actually arrived in schools. The main reason being the lack of funds. We spend a lot of energy to businesses to help these candidates, because we have the capacity to accommodate them! We must develop budgets.

AEF: You emphasize the cultural component of engineering studies in France. Why?

Jean-Pierre Trotignon: We want to show students that if English is a prerequisite, at home, we offer courses in French. This is the added value of our offer: a cultural experience, a way of thinking and working, etc. Companies want us to have this approach because they want graduates who speak English but who also know the French language and culture. This is a step above the classic offer internationally. For a course in fluid mechanics, it is a course in fluid mechanics, and it is the same in all the good universities, the added value is the cultural open mindness!

AEF: Do you fear that this may deter some students?

Jean-Pierre Trotignon: This is our approach, and it is true that it is demanding. But at the end students will speak 3 worldwide spoken languages, will have an international master degree, and have a clear path toward top positions.

We also explain to applicants that the real cost of engineering education in France is € 15 000 per year, so 30,000 over two years. The difference with other countries is that each student is assisted by the French State, which shall bear 95% of costs. They no longer have to pay about 1000 euros per year

AEF: What is your relationship with CampusFrance, you share the Parisian address?

Jean-Pierre Trotignon: From 2000 to 2008, we have been managed as a department of EduFrance , now CampusFrance. We did not have our own administrative structure. Moreover, the "n + i" served as a model for other areas of higher education (schools of commerce, arts, mathematics departments ...). Was created EduDroit, EduArt, EduHumanités, etc.. But with time, only EduArt remained. In 2008, we separated from CampusFrance becoming an independent association. We sublet a floor in their building, and we maintain a good relationship with them, but we have no financial or institutional links. However, we have a baby in common: "Entrepreneurs in Africa."

AEF: What is this program, "Entrepreneurs in Africa"?

Jean-Pierre Trotignon: It is an observable fact, that the approach of the French institutions vis-à-vis higher education in Africa is still very conformist in the form of traditional academic cooperation. It lacks an entrepreneurial dimension. As a result, most graduates remain in France and the development of the country suffers.

We have designed a system in which local entrepreneurs, students, graduates, and others can have an idea and request assistance from engineering schools for developing technical specifications.  This gives the project greater credibility when approaching banks for financing.  It provides a way to certify the technical feasibility of a new business project.

AEF: And what are the results?

Jean-Pierre Trotignon: We are inundated with requests! We have 25 projects supported by engineering schools, ten companies that have been created or being created in Africa, fifteen jobs per company, six entrepreneurs’ beneficiaries of the loan of honor that we helped launch and support and approximately 200 requests received per semester.

We do not support as many projects as we did from in 2009 because we want to be evaluated on number of jobs created. Therefore we do not undertake projects that have low chances to succeed.

In 2011, there was the construction of the manufacturing entity “jam Togo”. We are also working on a concept of a "box" dedicated to “micro Burkina Faso”, a draft for “microturbines” turbines, and a dialysis center in Congo - Brazzaville.

The program is managed by CampusFrance and receives support from the schools that provide equipment, laboratories, human resources and more. The monetary value of this support, from engineering schools, is estimated at 2.5 million euros. A grant from the Ministry of the Interior also provides funding in this amount which runs until 2013. We now seek to sustain the program through public and private funding.

Source: 
http://www.nplusi.com/
 
//-->