Universities and grandes écoles have been working for several months on the creation of the University of Toulouse. A unique site to gain “visibility” in international rankings. At Toulouse 1 Capitole University, deep disagreements weakened its participation in this project.
University robes de rigueur. Chamber music played by the Toulouse student symphony orchestra. Thursday, October 7, 2021, the law faculty ofToulouse 1 Capitole University made its solemn return to school in a cozy, but joyful atmosphere, wanting to be borrowed from “tradition” and “modernity”. But behind this ceremony, with the smooth facade, a speckled foil debate is played out.
– Leo Garcia (@ LGarcia__09) October 7, 2021
In search of more visibility for higher education
For several months now, UT1 has been participating with other Toulouse universities and schools in the construction of a common structure – ie 107,000 students including 4,500 doctoral students, approximately 17,000 staff, 145 research laboratories. A University of Toulouse. The mission named “UT2022” was entrusted to Patrick Lévy, former president of the University of Grenoble-Alpes, accompanied by the president of the Federal University of Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées, Philippe Raimbault. This development, strongly desired by the elected officials of the Occitanie region and Toulouse Métropole, aims to give greater visibility to higher education in Toulouse in international rankings, such as that of Shanghai. It also aims to not forget the failure of the Idex label of excellence and its additional 25 million euros per year.
The new University of Toulouse is launched!
We bet that tomorrow the University of #Toulouse will be the signature of the excellence of a territory united around the values of inclusion and innovation. #Higher Education #Research @Occitanie pic.twitter.com/MgGppssbLT
– Nadia Pellefigue (@NadiaPellefigue) September 17, 2021
“At some point, you have to know how to say no”
But a sling wind crosses the campus of the university of social sciences and it is the dean of law School, Philippe Nélidoff, who is currently blowing hot and cold: “We are not sure where we are going. We cannot be told that the statutes of the great University of Toulouse will include gradual transfers of skills and, at the same time, maintain our legal personality and our diplomacy as a faculty. We are not saying to go beyond the federal system, which is the current system …“
When you look at the draft statute, we are told everything and its opposite all the time. It’s a fusion that doesn’t say its name. We do not want to put our finger in the gear. Afterwards, we will not be able to go back. At some point, you have to say no.
The professor, a specialist in the history of law and institutions, assures that he is “open to dialogue” but attends the clarifications of the president of the University of Toulouse 1 Capitole.
The latter eliminates any idea of ”friction“about this with the dean of the Faculty of Law.”At most a difference on a subject or twoFor Hugues Kenfack, elected last November at the head of UT1:
There is no debate on the merger. It is not on the agenda. There will be no merger, not under my mandate anyway.
“There can be no opposition between the president of the university and the dean of the faculty on a debate that does not exist. The question no longer even arises. For me, there are no more difficulties.“
No debate around the merger
The lawyer met before the texts of the project to defend his point. According to Hugues Kenfack, there is not in the statutes of the future University of Toulouse “loss of moral and legal personality“current universities and their members.”Staff transfers“wouldn’t it be from elsewhere”Not possible“.
A point of view shared by Philippe Raimbault. Very attentive to the situation, the president of the federal university uses the same arguments as those of the president of UT1: “I’m surprised the dean sees it as a fusion, he reacts. He is a lawyer and he knows that a merger is based on the loss of the moral responsibilities of institutions. And in what we are proposing in the project, this is not the case at all. It is not in any way a merger. (..) That this fear is expressed is completely legitimate. It has also expressed itself elsewhere. There needs to be a time for discussion where we have the capacity to respond to that. But I admit, I would like to know what are the other points of reluctance. Because for those, we have answers. This means that the root of the disagreement is not on this. It is therefore ideological.“
Ideological? Maybe, but not only. In a letter dated October 7 addressed to the director of the Toulouse School of Doctors, Philippe Nélidoff but also Stéphane Gregoir, dean of the Toulouse School Economics (TSE)) created by the nobélisé Jean Tirole, and Hervé Penan, director of Toulouse School of Management (TSM) says he no longer wants to participate in discussions on “possible developments in doctoral studies on the Toulouse site.“All are determined to defend their”autonomy” and their “governance“what could the project of”Toulouse site“(the Faculty of Law, TSE and TSM belong to the University of Toulouse 1 Capitole).
The University of Toulouse, a major challenge for the future
Several interlocutors also deplore the absence of a “scientific and educational project“solid and a real consultation. The situation seems to reach a point of blockage.
“All this is not easy, recognizes Philippe Raimbault. There are major challenges today in terms of positioning the Toulouse site and I think we have all of this in mind. We are in the process of committing the future of the site for the years to come and we must all be responsible.“
“We have universities, like that of Toulouse Capitole, at the highest level, argues for his part Hugues Kenfack.
We could say that we are in Top 14. But we have a site which is pro D2. Can we stay in this situation? I say no. On built the site. Bringing in the forces to build it is an absolutely fundamental element.
A Toulouse site, without UT1?
Many interlocutors do not hide their skepticism about the future participation of the University Toulouse 1 Capitole in the University of Toulouse. “A site project without UT1? It is not on the agenda at this stage. It would be something that would be really damaging“, answers the president of the federal university half-word.”The university has a great responsibility. Have we chosen to see the Toulouse site in 10 years be in federal division?“asks Hugues Kenfack, staying on the rugby benchmark.”I do not think so. This hypothesis is not on the agenda. We are a force of proposal. We don’t just say no. “
UT1 will position itself “firmly and definitively“during the vote on the statutes of the University of Toulouse. Scheduled for December, it was finally postponed to next February.