After the experimental section, 4 EPEs decide to turning into one massive facility

Four of the 14 experimental public bodies (EPE) established since 2018 voted the request to leave this experiment in 2022 : CY Cergy, Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL), the University of Grenoble Alpes (UGA) and the University of the Côte d’Azur (UCA). Others have started to think about the subject, like the Gustave-Eiffel University or the Polytechnic University of Hauts-de-France.

This experiment was started four years ago with the Decree of December 12, 2018 that created the Experimental Public Institutions (EPE). A new law that allows “public or private higher education and research institutions to merge or merge” and do so “on a trial basis”. This text thus allowed a derogation to the traditional rules that govern universities and to bring together within the same institution universities and other structures, known as “sub-entities”, which may retain legal personality.

After two years of existence, the EPEs can end the experimental character of their statutes. A selection from the UCA. “We believe that our structure is stabilized, justifies Jeanick Brisswalter, President of the UCA. We do not want to change structures that work again.” In the same way, François Germinet, President of CY Cergy, wants to “validate statutes that meet our expectations and get out of the uncomfortable state of experimentation”.

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So this experiment seems to be a success, in Cergy (95) as in Nice (06). “Our project was to create a new form of university, Jeanick Brisswalter recalls what we did through the EPE: the UFRs disappeared and we set up university research schools that strengthen the link between education, research and innovation, as well as the impact of our facility on the territory.”

We believe that our structure is stabilized. We do not want to change functioning structures again. (J. Brisswalter, UCA)

In Cergy, the flexibility of the EPE was an opportunity”attend two private schools – the Practical School of Social Work and the Free Institute for Higher Physical Education – as sub-facilities and to create a very strong link with Essec,” lists François Germinet. This experiment also corresponds to the goal of Project I – Website of “constitute a clear power and excellence in our territory, too small compared to those of Paris universities or some provinces, explains the university president. The EPE thus combines Cergy’s key strengths and builds a first-class university.”

By voting to leave the experiment, EPEs commit to adopting major branch status, which is detrimental to that of the universities and has hitherto been reserved for certain grandes écoles and other public or private bodies. But the transition between the EPE and this new regime should not lead to major upheavals: “The exit from the experiment after two years is subject to the condition that no significant changes are made to the statutes,” assures François Germinet.

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A number of notable changes are still being considered at the UCA: “The Training Institute for Movement Therapy, previously a sub-institute, will become an entity without legal personality“, states Jeanick Brisswalter, who rates this change as a “success”: “The gain for this house is so great that it would like to integrate even more.”

The exit from the experiment after two years is subject to the condition that no significant changes are made to the articles of association. (F. Germinet, University of CY)

Another novelty: the Higher National Pole of Dance was to become a new branch of the UCA. But for the two EPEs, the goal is clear: this future status is not a means to deviate further from university rules by increasing enrollment fees or abolishing national diplomas.

Be that as it may, the EPEs that applied to withdraw from the experiment still have a few steps to go before they officially become large entities. You must indeed succumb an evaluation by the High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (Hcéres)have their statutes voted to change – not significantly – then have them validated by the ministry.

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The finish line seems pretty close to some like PSL, for which the Hcécres already in July 2022 “unanimously gave a favorable opinion on the application […] publication‘, judging that the ‘exploratory phase is clearly over’ and that ‘maintaining the experimental status constitutes a brake, even a handicap, on the development of the institution’s activities, both nationally and internationally’.

The withdrawal process is taking its course at the University of Grenoble Alpes, as it is in Cergy : “We submitted the evaluation report in June 2022 and the Hcéres visit took place at the end of September,” reports François Germinet, who is aiming for an exit decree in spring 2023. At UCA, too, we are waiting for the report on the assessment of the foundation, combined with that of the exit, by the end of the year. “The entry into force of the Grand Establishment for the University of the Côte d’Azur will not take place before January 1, 2024,” concludes Jeanick Bisswalter.

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