Prestigious French institute opens office in Nairobi

Sciences Po, France’s prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies, will open its first African office in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of its internationalisation strategy, choosing an English-language over a francophone country.

The university, whose students represent 150 nationalities and which offers a third of its courses in English, said it wanted to set up in a promising market, reported Marion Douet in Le Monde of Paris.

It quoted Vanessa Scherrer, its vice-president responsible for international affairs, who said at the official launch in Nairobi: “We chose Kenya because it’s a dynamic centre for the whole region.”

An economic driving force for East Africa, with forecast growth of 5.5% in 2018, Kenya has a growing middle class and a resulting growth in numbers of students at public and private universities, said Le Monde.

The institute has developed about 30 partnerships with universities on the continent, reported Le Monde, opening a Europe-Africa programme in 2010. But the number of African students, though rising, is only 600 out of 11,000.

Recruiting more young Africans is one of the Nairobi office’s priorities, which, like Sciences Po’s other offices in Bombay, New York and Singapore, will not itself provide courses, preferring to partner with local institutions.

It was a question of “equality and equity in relations” with local universities, Le Monde quoted it as saying, and forging new partnerships with the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University in the public sector, as well as reputed private institutions such as Strathmore University and United States International University.

In line with its policy of promoting social diversity the institute will look for talents from all social backgrounds, through scholarships but also through intensive marketing.

“We shall be active on social media, present at all events linked to education in Africa, and we shall draw on the network of 600 former African students at Sciences Po,” Sheila Chepkoech, Kenyan director for East Africa who studied at the institute in Paris, told Le Monde.

The institute recognised its reputation was at present limited in an English-speaking country where students looked to American and British institutions. But, said Le Monde, it should be welcomed in the university world which was aware of the benefits of greater international exposure.

William Ogara, director of international programmes at the University of Nairobi, foresaw a mutually beneficial deal. “We have the same internationalisation strategy,” he told Le Monde. “Our aim is to achieve 20% internationally in the next few years – programmes, students and so on. And we’re going even further. They’re French – so what? We don’t discriminate!”– Compiled by Jane Marshall

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