This year, it’s not Covid that’s asking university or college presidents questions, but the price of raw materials like electricity. An interview with the president of Gustave Eiffel University, an institution that shined in the last edition of the prestigious Shanghai thematic ranking.
How was the start of the new school year at your university?
With many projects, everything goes well, without major difficulties and completely face to face. What burdens all universities today is the increase in energy costs, which has an impact on budgets. We are forced to imagine new, less greedy technical solutions. Up to 240% increase in electricity costs is expected in 2023. For us, it represents several million euros.
Could this be done at the expense of students?
That’s the whole question. We will ensure that this is not the case, but we have several scenarios to consider. Will we be forced to close the premises? Will we have to resume distance learning? Shorten the teaching hours? So many subjects that we carefully study while watching our expenses. We need to support young people, but this can only be achieved with the help of resources, and therefore state aid.
How do you imagine the student experience at Gustave Eiffel?
Reception in the buildings or in the administration, catering, digital technology… so many topics that we of course cover to support student success. Health is also a topic we are following closely, especially after the covid pandemic. Sport is also an aspect that seems very important to me. Thanks to CVEC (allowance for student and campus life, etc) we are making progress in the field of equipment and support of student initiatives.
Are universities making progress in education?
Our operation is one of the first to make progress in this area. We have our own CFA for engineers, but we cover all disciplines and all levels (history, science, management, etc.). To date, 24% of our students, all majors combined, are in apprenticeships. Thanks to which Gustave Eiffel ranks first among French universities. The state must unconditionally continue to support this method of education, which offers an excellent level of integration and allows us to expand the offer of education.
Was the Parcoursup effective this year?
Frankly, the Parcoursup process is quite efficient in assigning students. We have completed about 95% of our programs. Of course, there can be disappointment, but access to the university does not preclude capacity limitations. We are obliged to limit access to the number of possible places.
What advice would you give to future graduates?
Above all, don’t wait until the Parcoursup opens in January to find out. I even tend to advise freshmen to get informed and start making a study plan. Orientation is a very serious topic that cannot be done at the last minute. High school students are also welcome, who can discover our offer and the atmosphere of the university.
Interview with Gilbert Azoulay