Elected director of Sciences Po Lyon during the summer, Hélène Surrel entered as a student at the IEP in the 1980s before returning as a professor, then a member of the scientific council, the technical committee and the council. administration. She gives her look at the institution, its demons and its projects to Lyon tribune.
You became the first female director of Sciences Po Lyon. What does this represent for you and for the establishment?
Hélène Surrel: “I think it was important. When you think about it, it’s still huge that since 1948, there has not only never been a woman elected, but also never a woman candidate. This is good, because it helps to understand the diversity of society. I received a lot of messages, some from people I didn’t know, that told me: “It’s great that it’s a woman. Some students have also written to tell me that it gives them hope for the future. I also received a lot of messages from administrative and technical staff who are overwhelmingly women.
You who are a product of Sciences Po Lyon, what have you seen change in a little over 30 years?
What is important is that Sciences Po has kept its identity, that is to say a multidisciplinary approach. A certain number of subjects are common to disciplines, which can be understood from the angle of economics, sociology, law, etc. What makes our strength is to provide students not only with technical knowledge, but also to favor analysis. We went from a diploma in three years to a diploma in five years. Before, students develop a specialization after Sciences Po. Now, we have put a lot of emphasis on specialization and especially on professionalization. The other major development is internationalization. We are one of the most advanced Sciences Po in the region with a very large number of partnerships and a third year which is now a year of mobility abroad.
What does he specialize in most in Lyon?
We have a specificity, it is that we offer undergraduate school diplomas, which allows students, in addition to their traditional course, to specialize in a geographical area: Asia, United States, Europe , Africa… Then, we offer a very large number of avenues: for example, we have a partnership with the CFJ (Journalists training center, Editor’s note) for data journalism; we also have communication, an administrative competition course, it’s very varied. We then have a very large number of our students entering the private sector (35% of the 2018 class, Editor’s note), more than in the public sector (23%), and this is increasing every year. It only takes a few months for our students to find a job, with very good professional integration.
The ENA will disappear, is this model of the grandes écoles under threat? Does this still make sense?
Yes. We have not completed the profiles to develop, improve the educational offer and we can see that our employers are of interest. We must continue to develop partnerships, deepen professionalization, extend the field of learning. We are very attractive, we see it with Parcoursup. For the seven Sciences Po network, we still have more than 14,000 candidates for 250 places in the first year. So I believe that the interest in this training remains. Regarding the ENA, it is another choice.
At a time of yellow vests, of disaffection for the elites, is Sciences Po still in tune with its country?
I do not know, I cannot speak for myself, but it is students who reflect on the question of the elites, of the gulf that may exist between the elites and other categories of the population, who are aware of these issues.
Isn’t it a shame that they send this awareness to accumulate problems more in the service of the private than of the public sector?
But the private sector includes the associative sector, towards which a certain number of our students are heading. (20% of the 2018 class went to the social economy, editor’s note).
Has there been any awareness since the “Pig Sciences” affair about sexual and gender-based violence?
Following “Sciences porcs”, which concerned all Sciences Po, there was a general inspection mission and the directors were invited to a meeting with the Minister in July. In the report, the authors put the emphasis on what has already been done, because we did not wait for “Pig Sciences” to do a number of things. But what emerges from this report is that more needs to be done. The issue of gender-based and sexual violence is particularly important to me. Information, prevention and sanctions must be reinforced. What I would like to underline is that there is a call for tenders from the ministry to obtain resources: as part of my mandate, Sciences Po Lyon will respond to it. Because we have to keep in mind that we have deployed a certain number of actions but without the means of the State. What matters to me, given the fundamental nature of this question, is that we are assured of lasting resources, and in particular human resources. We will strengthen the action of the equality unit and information on its action so that students and staff know this body better. When faced with a case of sexual or gender-based violence, the rector should be informed. Regarding Sciences Po Lyon, whenever there was an interesting question for a violation or an alleged sexual assault, there was always a report to the public prosecutor. But we need to deepen these actions, and we are lucky to have a collective at Sciences Po, the Pamplemousse collective, that we can join in our future actions.
What will be the major projects of your mandate?
I launched the creation of a specific access road for double routes in Saint-Étienne. And there is one element that seems particularly important to me, and that is to revitalize our relations with our association university, the University of Lyon 2. I met its president Nathalie Dompnier in August and we have planned for the month. in November, a meeting of our teams to try to think about cooperation that we could develop in terms of teaching and research. We are also going to set up a specialty more on ecological issues in Saint-Étienne, but it will be more in the medium term. And then, there is a project by Renaud Payre that I find really good. Sciences Po Lyon has been organizing training courses for elected officials for a very long time, and this is why we have created with the Association of Rural Mayors of France training adapted to the specific needs of rural elected officials who do not necessarily have the same facilities for ‘access to training only for mayors of large cities. The first trainings take place this year. There is the political aspect, but also the territorial aspect. Being from Haute-Loire, this is a question to which I am really sensitive. ”
My breakfast with Hélène Surrel
Mama Shelter may be a fashionable address, this is a first for the new director of Sciences Po Lyon and for us. Checking the health pass, discovering the colorful decoration of the large dining room: our first steps are stammering between the self-service breakfast buffet and the pleasant hotel terrace. On this Friday morning in September, summer is playing extra time. Specialized in European human rights law, member of the scientific council of the review of the Constitutional Council, Hélène Surrel does not have the same profile as her predecessor Renaud Payre, who became vice-president of the Métropole de Lyon.
At the head of an establishment of 1,800 students – almost two-thirds of graduates of the 2018 class were women – she speaks of a “desperate act” when she is told that the Issep of Marion Maréchal and her a few dozen students are displayed on an advertising lollipop at the entrance to the IEP. “We are a public establishment created in 1948, we issue a diploma recognized by the State for a very long time. If this establishment needs to put an advertisement in front of ours qualifying as “the other school of political science”, maybe it is not meeting the success that we have. “
When we approach student precariousness, Hélène Surrel lists the measures at the service of the most vulnerable students: possibility of consulting a psychologist, increase in exceptional mobility grants, participation in the financing of language tests or even at the cost of quarantine. Set up after the appearance of the Covid, the tutoring will be after being acclaimed. “I would like to remind you that in our establishment, registration fees are a function of income”, argues the director, lamenting not to reach “A satisfactory social mix. But we try to promote it “, she pleads.
Mum’s shelter, 13 rue Domer, Lyon 7e, 04 78 02 58 00
– Our meal –
Two continental formulas: tea, croissant, fruit juice.
– The bill –
Born in Craponne-sur-Arzon (Haute-Loire).
Graduated from Sciences Po Lyon, final thesis in public law.
Returns to Sciences Po Lyon as a professor.
Responsible for the creation and development of the Saint-Étienne campus.
Succeeds Renaud Payre and becomes the first female director of Sciences Po Lyon.