French HE institutions open campuses in Africa

A growing number of French grandes écoles and business schools are opening campuses in Africa, as the number of students on the continent is forecast to increase by 22 million by 2030, from eight million at present.

During the past 12 years the number of African students studying in France at a grande école has risen by 130% according to the Conférence des Grandes Écoles, or CGE, the organisation that represents the schools, reported Wally Bordas in the French newspaper Le Figaro.

However in recent years these elite institutions have been less inclined to recruit students in Africa to teach them in France, but rather to open their own campuses on the continent.

Morocco is the preferred country for the French schools, and for several years the kingdom has welcomed them with the aim of providing a bridge between Europe and Africa, reported Le Figaro. They include high profile business and engineering schools such as the Toulouse Business School in Casablanca; ESSEC in Rabat; EMLYON Business School, Centrale Supélec, and the EIGSI Engineering School in Casablanca.

Other African countries are also attracting French higher education institutions, reported Le Figaro. François Collin, international development director of leading business school HEC, told the newspaper that Africa was a priority: “It is a key region for our development. Every year nearly 1,000 Africans come to study our programmes in Paris, and we have developed partnerships with many institutions on site.”

HEC has decided to open a permanent office in Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, and Sciences Po, the prestigious Institute of Political Sciences, has just launched a bureau in Nairobi, Kenya, to attract promising students.

“We hope to diversify our recruitment on the African continent. It is absolutely vital for us to be present in this part of the world where the demographics are impressive and a good proportion of the planet’s talents live,” Frédéric Mion, Science Po’s director, told Le Figaro.

According to research carried out by PAXTER, a consultancy founded by former CGE president Pierre Tapie, the number of students in Africa will increase from eight million today by an extra 22 million by 2030.

Another reason for the French grandes écoles to open in Africa is the high potential for development on the continent, reported Le Figaro. “It’s an area of the future where real technological leaps can be made. In the coming years, Africa will make great digital progress,” said Frédérique Vincent, director of education and international affairs at the Institut Mines-Télécom, which has recently signed a partnership with the École Polytechnique of Dakar, Senegal.

French engineering school ESIEE already has two campuses in South Africa, in Cape Town and Pretoria. “Our presence in Africa is a real opportunity for French companies there which need a place offering scientific integration. They recruit a lot of our graduates,” Jean-Luc Polleux, the school’s director of international relations, told Le Figaro.

New ICAM campus in Congo Brazzaville

ICAM, the Institut Catholique d' Arts et Métiers, is a French engineering school that opened a new campus in Pointe-Noire, the economic capital of the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), in February, reported Le Figaro.

The new campus has 400 places, with 220 students installed so far, selected through competitive examination. Fees are about €3,000 (US$3,722), compared with €6,800 (US$8,375) in France; payment can be postponed until the third year, when courses include paid work experience.

Congo’s economy depends largely on the oil industry, and most students and graduates find employment in one of the oil companies in the region, such as Total which is ICAM’s principal financial partner, said The Figaro.

ICAM has been present in Congo since 2002 when the Université Catholique d’Afrique Centrale, or UCAC, asked it to set up an engineering programme. “We had noticed that the Africans who came to take their studies in France stayed there afterwards, when they had graduated. We thought it would be interesting to train Africans in Africa for Africa,” ICAM’s director Jean-Michel Viot told Le Figaro.

Two years later UCAC-ICAM opened another campus in Douala, Cameroon, and students spend their first two years at Pointe-Noire studying for an industrial technician's diploma, before taking a three-year engineering degree in Douala.

KEDGE – a decade in Senegal

KEDGE Business School opened a campus in Dakar 10 years ago. Its director-general José Milano told Le Figaro that in spite of slow progress at the beginning, they had moved from 100 students to more than 1,000 this year. “We have 11 permanent teachers there, and our lecturers based in France go there to give courses. To start with we had only one building; now we have three in the economic centre of Dakar. And we cater for more and more students from other Sub-Saharan countries: Ivorians, Togolese, etc,” he said.

KEDGE Dakar increasingly teaches hybrid programmes which do not exist in France, mixing engineering and management, said Milano. “We have for example launched an agri-food bachelor course in partnership with ISARA-Lyon, a French engineering school, to train middle executives, who are highly sought in Senegal. This hybridisation of programmes is booming at the moment, because fast-growing companies are looking for bachelor graduates with cross-cutting skills."

Milano told Le Figaro that KEDGE increasingly constructed its programmes according to the needs of companies in Senegal, for example adapting courses since oil reserves had been discovered offshore. “The aim is to have a strong connection with the local economy, [and] at the same time having an international approach.” – Compiled by Jane Marshall

This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.