When the “unsustainable” financial situation hinders the development of the University of Lille

The University of Lille has presented a solidarity plan to help students equip themselves with a computer, shop, travel or pass the highway regulations. (©JB/Lille news/Archives)

It’s a “contradiction” more than an inconsistency, isn’t it the new president of the University of Lille Régis Bordetduring his back-to-school conference September 14, 2022. A sad financial situation on the one hand – which would even suggest that “within two years we will be on the bone” – inconsistent with s growing attraction, other. Although the organization radiates more and more internationally*, the reality is very dull: unforeseen expenses, dilapidated premises and inevitably forced belt tightening.

A third of the buildings (also) depreciated

30 million euros is the sum of additional costs accumulated by the university. 15 million for energy costs linked to inflation, another 15 million for the review of employee salaries. If the president’s speech is alarming, he does not intend to sacrifice progressive ambitions.

We have to continue our development at the national and international concert. But it must be justified. We have initiated a structural consolidation of our finances to avoid redundancies and circumvention.

Régis Bordet, president of the university.
Régis Bordet held his first press conference back to school at the head of the University of Lille.  Between global influence and half-mast finances, it's a mixed bag he describes.
Régis Bordet held his first press conference back to school at the head of the University of Lille. Between global influence and half-mast finances, it’s a mixed bag he describes. (©University of Lille)

The human factor is inseparable from the goals of expansion, and therefore it is necessary to “unify, strengthen the sense of belonging to the University of Lille”. This calls for a “strengthened” tenure policy, it says, and improved admissions conditions. At least that’s how it’s supposed to be. Because reality does not allow for miracles again: a third of the university’s heritage is considered too degraded.

From inclement weather reaching classrooms to outright dilapidated spaces from another era, the situation is troubling for some departments. Régis Bordet himself cites the recently visited “SN4 building” of the Cité Scientifique as an example. “He is as he was 25 years ago. Nothing has changed,” he laments. Reconstructions in the campuses that need it the most would amount to a colossal amount of 225 million euros.

The university’s property – mainly in six campuses and four schools – covers 655,000 m². Approximately 75,000 students study there.

Lower the thermostat this winter?

As for budget cuts, there is the matter of lowering the thermostat this winter, which communities – including the city of Lille – are gradually adopting. Marie-Dominique Savina, director of technical services, explains that a “crisis unit” has been set up to make decisions. The reflection phase is all the more necessary because dilapidated premises may not allow real profit.

“There are old buildings with large volumes,” explains Marie-Dominique Savina. We need to do a preliminary analysis to measure the impact the cuts will have on students and staff. It is difficult because of the diversity of our activities: there are administrative staff, researchers, etc. The decision has not yet been taken and “in any case, it will be discussed with the trade unions,” he concludes.

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*In August 2022, the university again entered the Shanghai Rankings, which lists the 1,000 best universities in the world. It is located between the 301st and 400th place.

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