Governors sign merger deal to create ‘French MIT’

Plans to amalgamate Parisian grandes écoles into a single university grouping have been officially approved

October 17, 2018
Merger

Some of France’s most selective higher education institutions have taken a major step towards becoming a single “world-class” science and technology university.

Under plans to establish what has been dubbed a “French MIT”, five grandes écoles in Paris have signed a deal that commits them to creating a single university cluster, provisionally known as the “NewUni”.

Its signatories include the heads of École Polytechnique, ENSTA ParisTech and ENSAE ParisTech, as well as the specialist institutions Télécom ParisTech and Télécom SudParis.

Their boards of governors have also backed the move, which will involve the institutions moving to a 1,300-acre site on the south-western edge of the French capital.

The agreement follows work by Jean-Lou Chameau, the former president of the California Institute of Technology, who was commissioned to initiate the merger in January.

His report, submitted to the French prime minister in June , included the vision of having the new institution emulate the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Earlier this year, he told Times Higher Education that the union of the grandes écoles should be more comprehensive than the previous practice of grouping institutions together in ComUE (communautés d’universités et établissements).

“The faculty will be ‘one faculty’; it is not five faculties…as soon as possible [we should] create a single entity,” said Professor Chameau, who is also a former president of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia.

Under the new deal, announced on 15 October, the new “university grouping” set out in detail a number of shared principles, including a commitment to developing world-leading research and the creation of an “original and ambitious doctoral programme”.

It also outlined the institution’s plan to expand student numbers to 10,000 in total by 2022, up from 7,325 this year. Of these, 8,000 will be postgraduates and 4,500 will be studying engineering. Staff numbers will also rise, to 1,000 from about 840 at present.

The deal also committed to creating a new management board ahead the formation of a NewUni executive committee, which will be chaired by École Polytechnique’s president, Eric Labaye.

jack.grove@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

I want to congratulate sincerely France and its universities on such ambitious and fantastic decision. Europe needs serious modernization of education and sciences. It is very good that today we see that the certain countries and the universities are ready to change a situation. New scientific center will bring the French science and the European science and education to essentially new level.

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