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Regular version of the site

University Aix Marseille III and the Higher School of Economics: Mutual Interest

In January 2010 nine students of the HSE Faculty of Public Administration went on an internship to Paul Cézanne University Aix-Marseille III, in Aix-en Provence, France.

Sergey Efremov, fourth-year student of the Faculty of Public Administration and an analyst at the HSE French Centre, shared his impressions of the trip.

- How did this cooperation between the HSE Faculty of Public Administration and the Aix-Marseille III University Institute of Public Management and Local Governance begin?

- It all started two years ago, when Irina Maltseva, Director of the HSE Centre forcooperation with France and Francophone countries of Europe (French Centre), met and started negotiations with Robert Fouchet, Director of the Institute of Public Management and Local Governance at Paul Cézanne University. As a result, in late October last year, our Faculty hosted a delegation from Paul Cézanne University IPMLG headed by its Director. Then our French colleagues offered an internship to a small group of students from the HSE Faculty of Public Administration in January 2010. The HSE French Centre prepared a memorandum which became the first step of our cooperation and a document of intent. The Faculty gave financial support to the internship participants.

- Why is this cooperation developing so rapidly?

- Driving the dynamic development, primarily, is the mutual interest of the parties. Mr. Robert Fouchet and Ms. Elizabeth Lopez, IPMLG Head of International Relations, actively contributed to this.

- In your view, why is the collaboration with the Paul Cézanne University Institute of Public Management and Local Governance interesting for the Higher School of Economics?

- Paul Cézanne University celebrated it's 600th anniversary last year. During this period of time it has come a long way, and now it is one of the most authoritative educational and research universities in France. The Institute of Public Management and Local Governance is a strong research centre in France. Education and research there are totally integrated, not only on a professorial level, they also actively work with students to involve them in science. They have created a special one-year ‘research master's course'which makes it easier for the students to be enrolled in the doctoral programme and which gives them the methodological skills for research analysis.

Paul Cézanne University is not the only focus of interest for our university. We know that two French students, who have been studying Russian, want to come for a year to study at the HSE.

In Aix-en Provence, the city where Paul Cézanne University is located, there are many Parisians, who moved there to study Law at one of the most prestigious faculties in France. For example, during my internship I met a girl from Paris who had graduated from the master's programme at the University of Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne, the longest established HSE partner, and entered the master's course at Paul Cézanne University. The university has an authoritative school of political sciences (Sciences Po), which is the alma mater of many of today's leading French politicians. Paul Cézanne University is, like the HSE, a research university. The university is open for international contacts. For example, the course our students attended is conducted by the IPMLG as part of a double-degree programme with the University of Quebec, which is by the way also in the process of negotiating with the HSE French Centre the terms of collaboration with the HSE.

- What are your impressions of the course that you attended?

- The course was called ‘Key Principles and Theory of Public Administration in Europe'and lasted one week. We studied for six hours a day together with a French-speaking group of students from Canada. It was unusual for us that every day we listened to only one course, which in terms of hours studied was equal to a full-time educational course.

We remember the bright and expressive Ms. Lamadou, who can teach complex legal information in an easy and comprehensible way. We also recall Mr. Tobelem, a consultant to the World Bank on urbanism, who has worked on different project in 72 countries and has a great deal of experience and many interesting stories to illustrate his points. Incidentally, he is an advocate of globalization as the key to economic development.

It was interesting to see new methods, a different approach to teaching the disciplines which we have, in fact, already studied at our Faculty. At the end we received certificates for successfully completing the course. And I can't go without saying that even before our arrival home the administration of the IPMLG had sent a letter to the HSE French Centre head Elena Maltseva mentioning the high level of our students'knowledge, their motivation and French language skills.

- Was it also a business trip for you?

- Yes, for me it was an educational and a business trip at the same time. In terms of business, we had to resolve many issues on our further cooperation. Specifically, I had to complete some tasks from the HSE French Centre:to ask our French colleagues'opinion on the terms of academic and research collaboration proposed by our Faculty. We also solved some administrative issues with our interuniversity agreement. But primarily this trip was educational.

- When will the double degree programme with the Faculty of Public Administration be launched?

- At the moment, it is difficult to talk definitively about when the programme will start. Both parties expressed their willingness to move forward, and now everything depends on how fastwe can obtain mutual approval on the contents of the courses and their validation. This decision demands joint work by the faculty staff of both universities.

- Why is the French side interested?

- The Institute of Public Management and Local Governance is interested in scientific cooperation, in conducting joint research and the creation of double degree programmes with Russia. One of the most promising areas of scientific collaboration is comparative research. The French colleagues have shown a keen interest in the problems of local administration, territorial management and public services in Russia.

- Apart from the impressions of studies and business, what else do you remember about the trip?

- We were very surprised with the reception that was organized for us. It took place in an 18th-century building, with elegant old mirrors, ornate ceiling moldings and golden decorations on the walls. We felt like we were very important guests, not just students who came to listen to a course of lectures. At the end of the trip we were invited to a wonderful concert of an Austrian trio in Marseille. We especially enjoyed like they played Brahms and Beethoven. Our hosts also arranged for us a trip to the picturesque Palais des papes d'Avignon.

And it was very pleasant to spend a week in a small and cozy university town. The streets there are narrow and cobbled. You can walk through the historical part of Aix-en Provence in 25 minutes. The city has managed to preserve monuments of all eras and times through its long history. That's why sometimes when I walked along its empty streets at night, it seemed to me like I might meet a knight with a spear, or d'Artagnan with his sword, or Paul Cézanne with canvas and brushes...

Lyudmila Mezentseva, HSE News Service