Two new French agency institutes appoint boards

Located in Tunisia and Cameroon, the two newest institutes established by the AUF – Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie – have just appointed governing boards to oversee strategy and development. There are now six AUF institutes, with the others in Bulgaria, Laos, Mauritius and Vietnam.

The new boards, each with 12 members, have been established at the Institut de la Francophonie pour l’Ingénierie de la Connaissance et des Formations à Distance (IFIC) in Tunis, which opened in 2012 and specialises in knowledge engineering and distance learning; and the Institut de la Francophonie pour la Gouvernance Universitaire (IFGU) in Yaoundé, which was inaugurated in 2010 and focuses on university governance.

The AUF is a worldwide association linking nearly 800 French-language higher education institutions in 98 countries that aims to promote the francophone academic and scientific communities globally.

The six institutes have been set up by the AUF at the request of the governments of the countries concerned, to offer high-level education given by international lecturers.

Although each is attached to a regional AUF bureau, their scope for action goes beyond the area covered by the bureau and they are well suited to inter-regional collaboration on projects, says the agency.

There are two kinds of institute.

The four older ‘first generation’ ones are the Institut de la Francophonie pour l’Informatique (IFI) created in 1993 in Hanoi, Vietnam, specialising in computer sciences; the Institut de la Francophonie pour la Médicine Tropicale (IFMT) established in Vientiane, Laos, in 2000 with expertise in tropical medicine; the Institut de la Francophonie pour l’Administration et la Gestion (IFAG) opened in 1996 in Sofia, Bulgaria, focusing on administration and management; and the Institut de la Francophonie pour l’Entreprenariat (IFE), which opened in 1999 in Réduit, Mauritius, and specialises in entrepreneurship.

They offer professional courses at masters and doctorate levels in innovative fields tailored to specific regional needs. Furthermore, they promote study and research for the development of countries, and establish research teams and laboratories.

The institutes also have an international dimension, enrolling French-speaking students from all countries, with grants available under certain conditions.

The IFIC and IFGU represent the ‘second generation’ of the institutes. According to the AUF they are “centres of expertise, education and innovation” for the agency’s university members and its regional bureaus, for setting up projects involving governance and-or information and communication technologies (ICTs).

In the case of ICT, they are concerned with everything to do with the introduction of digital technology in university education, management and research. The institutes do not award degrees, but ‘facilitate’ projects and help digital network organisers.

IFGU, set up with the backing of Cameroon’s Ministry of Higher Education, supports universities in their academic, administrative, financial, social, digital and scientific governance. The main function of the new governing board is to fix the institute’s strategies and strengthen its activities in favour of the French language in universities.

Members of the board include university presidents and rectors, and representatives of international institutions “qualified in the areas covered by IFGU”, said the AUF.

IFIC, the newest AUF institute, will specialise in education, research and expertise in ICT in francophone North and Sub-Saharan African countries. Its board will supervise its organisation in line with an agreement between the AUF and the Tunisian government, said the agency.

Chaired by Kaled Ghedira, director general of the Cité des Sciences in Tunis, its first task will be to authorise the IFIC's ‘roadmap’.

AUF Director Bernard Cerquiglini, who is a member of both new governing boards, said: “These institutes are ambitious projects. They will allow member universities to acquire an autonomy in terms of management and university governance...

“The composition of these two governing boards is therefore the driving force for the good progress of the various actions put in place by the institutes.”