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How to grow up yet stay the same?

UTC-Compiegne, as a Founder Member of the Sorbonne Universities Cluster, has opened its local innovation ecosystem, its experimental territorial infrastructure, for its partners. We recall that UTC itself benefits from an experimental university status and is now spreading its academic model outside France as it has already done in France. The thrust covers two strong concepts, one of which consists of boosting technological research (with UTT-Troyes) on complex systems already under development in Shanghai. The other concept revolves round its cursus based on flexible pedagogy which enhances training and aims at closing the gap with the entrepreneurial world with long placements and workshop projects. This is now being exported to countries abroad, such as currently to Brazil.

How to grow up yet stay the same?

The Sorbonne Universities Cluster, globalizing universities

A somewhat ‘shaky’ scene

The 2007 law (known as 'loi Pécresse', the minister's name) aimed at implementing and encouraging the emergence of 10-15 major university clusters. In this area, the State ambitions have remained constant. Various ministers for HE in France have defended the idea of seeing communities of universities, as is the case in both large Anglo-Saxon tradition countries and also in emerging countries. The underlying principle is that they can thereby propose interdisciplinary courses and work.

They have a status French law qualified as ‘scientific, cultural and professional public establishments’ (COMUE) The acronym COMUE designates institutions that group together HE and research establishments, such as UTC-Compiegne. From a local historic perspective, the COMUEs replace the previous “poles” which, it turned out, had limited potential in terms of joint skills. The objective for COMUEs is thus to enhance “intimate” collaborative agreements. In essence, COMUEs offer the challenge of achieving advanced levels, of integration, in which Prof Alain Storck, President and VP UTC, underlines that each partner “retains its own independent autonomy”.

 

The Sorbonne Universities (SU) Cluster

For the purpose of building up a pluridisciplinary university to face the challenges of the 21st Century, the recently created SU Cluster groups together the following Founder institutions: University of Paris 4 (Sorbonne), the University of Paris (Pierre & Marie Curie), the Museum d’histoire naturelle, INSEAD (Fontainebleau), the CIEP, the PSPBB and the University of Technology, Compiegne and research intensive establishments such as the CNRS, INSERM, INRIA, IRD. The Sorbonne Universities cluster indubitably represents a prestigious ‘trade-mark’ and has a very ambitious set of policy targets (cf. www.sorbonne-universites.fr ).

It aims at mobilizing the cluster partners round a high level scientific, intellectual, social and cultural project designed to rehabilitate the university as an institution. At the same time, each partner’s independence is assured, as needed to advance their knowledge base, for the dual benefit of Society and the economy. Each must be in a position to offer innovative and high-quality courses to prepare their students for a complex world. The partners will also be invited to explore the challenges at their respective specialty boundaries. UTC-Compiegne is perfectly at ease with the SU cluster and its aims and has the intention to participate fully and comply with the process stages as they appear. The two Paris Universities (4 and 6) will have to go even further and combine their forces. “The Government” notes Prof. Alain Storck, “wants to see the creation of combined poles, and indeed this criterion is a condition needed to justify the Investments for the Future programme, the IDEX (so-called ‘excellence’ initiatives, used to finance HE institutions and research establishments”.


Joint training and research projects financed up to 30 M euros/year, for example to cover the needs of e-health projects, international mobility enhancement or collaborative training packages. As President Storck notes “the two main Parisian universities represent 90% of the SU student population so we must explore together the way we join the cluster and the choices and options as to our mode of cooperative co-existence”. How for instance are we to preserve our added value (as seen and appreciated by our industrial partners, how do we build an association that is respectful for each partner’s identity, whatever its size. The COMUEs are justifiable. The initial philosophy was to favour interdisciplinary collaboration and to rehabilitate the university institution per se, correctly adapted to a complex world. No dogmatic stances, no a priori standardization, complying with each partner’s DNA.