La grande course des universités
The great university race
Stay ahead of global competition but coordinate at the territorial level! This has been the contradictory injunction to French universities since the two major reforms to higher education and research that were initiated in 2000.
On one hand, the State organises widespread competition between researchers and lecturers and between universities. Funding based on research projects, the publication of evaluations and their use in allocating performance budgets, along with the succession of highly selective calls for projects since Nicholas Sarkozy's "grand loan", have increased the gaps between establishments and shattered the principal upon which the French system was, theoretically, founded: equivalent universities throughout the territory.
On the other hand, the remodelling of the university landscape is underway. This requires the grandes écoles, research structures and universities within a given region to coordinate their actions in order to rationalise costs and climb in international rankings. New structures have thus been forcibly created, without it being possible to ascertain whether these major changes will reach their objectives and ensure a radiant future for French higher education.