The UT Group advances, in network formation!

The network approach, under way for a year now, began in compliance with the wish to see joint strategic views and actions undertaken by the French Universities of Technologies (UTs), viz., UTC (Compiègne), UTBM (Belfort-Montbeliard) and UTT (Troyes).

The UT Group advances, in network formation!

"We are living in a competitive world, where strength lies in united forces", recalls Prof. Alain STORCK, President and Vice-Chancellor of UTC-Compiègne and President of the UT Group.

"When university competition is international as it is today and comes under endless legislation changes; we have every interest to join forces, but not to merger. It's a question of critical mass". Over and above a site logic, encouraged by the Government, the UT Group also defends a brand-name, a special training model, a trade-mark almost. The UT Group must promote this identity.

"Our trade-mark", deplores Prof. Christian LERMINIAUX, President and Vice-Chancellor of UTT-Troyes and UT Group Treasurer "does not enjoy the notoriety it merits. It was becoming a matter of urgency to position ourselves in a network formation, if only to share "best practice" noted in each of our institutions over the past few years. The UT Group must facilitate the rehabilitation of the model, must continue to develop it and progress continuously."


Collaborative logic

We all have in mind the aborted plan to merger the 3 UTs. "The conditions necessary for success were just not there; notwithstanding, the dynamics of moving closer together are under way, in a collaborative format, with joint, shared projects in view", adds Prof. STORCK. The statutory regulations of the UT Group were adopted, end 2012 with the home office of the Group located in Paris; 3 delegate generals were appointed to ensure correct functioning of the Group.

There are also 5 associate members: Escom-Compiègne, EPF-Troyes, ESTA - Belfort Montbeliard, the University of Shanghai and the ETS-Montreal. "This flexible, pragmatic organisation enables us to build confident relationships and assures shared success", underlies Pascal BROCHET, President and Vice-Chancellor of UTBM-Belfort Montbeliard and Group Secretary.


Six thematic Standing Committees

The UT Group will progress as a function of the findings and recommendations of 6 Standing Committees, each of which has a road map to define: training and pedagogy; research and innovation; campus life (undergraduate/graduate); development and finance; best practice and communications.

Each Committee has a moderator, 6 volunteers from staff and student ranks, a referee director (one of the UT presidents). "We are making sure that there is a coherency between the work achieved in the Committees and the overall Group strategy. WE could in fact create more Committees", adds Prof. STORCK "but our aim was not to get dispersed just as we were starting".

Presidents STORCK and LERMINIAUX, for example, are the referees for the Standing Committee on Development and Finance, the remit of which is very wide-reaching: Should we envision creating a 4th UT? How could we diversity our financial resources? What should be our international stance and policy?

"The UT Group", underlines President LERMINIAUX "has every reason to build up international partnerships" and President BROCHET adds "Gaining an engineering degree is something that attracts more and more countries and companies round the world. The French UT Group carries a 'clout' that is more efficient than many others to convince new partners to join forces with us".


Enhanced attractiveness

Could the same logic, we surmise, be applied to our relationships with the economic spheres? “Increased notoriety of the French Universities of Technologies Group (UT) will reinforce and enhance our level of attractiveness. We could the think of sharing our means, to propose new opportunities, along the lines of the Complexcity joint research programme UTC-Compiègne has initiated with UTSeuS (Shanghai)” says Christian LERMINIAUX. 
Another path to explore, in the words of President Alain STORCK, this could consist in our “Positioning ourselves to study subjects that are transverse to the three French UTs, a case in hand here being transport systems, that we can collectively valorise in France and internationally”. 
Looking at sharing means and skills, the three UT Presidents identified several paths, one of which is pedagogy. “We should put our heads together to renew our pedagogical thinking, integrating approaches made possible by ICTs. “Teaching has now become more interactive and student-focused”, underlines Pascal BROCHET. “We could likewise bring the alumni networks closer, or facilitate transfer moves from one UT to another for students who wish to follow given courses. We might even, why not, set up a joint Foundation. Let’s dream our future into reality!” 
The first challenge in this line of thought and ambitions will be to federate the teams in each UT to make the UT Group as a whole prosper and flourish. As Christian LERMINIAUX sees it “We must mobilise our forces and convictions to demonstrating just how the advantages accrue from devoting time to committee work – in this way we can clearly foresee some future prospects, ideas that will support and uphold the specific brand of the French UTs