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The priorities of the new boss of Sciences Po

Published on 10 Jan. 2022 at 10: 30

Having arrived at the head of Sciences Po just two months ago, Mathias Vicherat intends to “appease” the establishment, after the turbulence of the past months. “Everyone wants to find a new lease of life,” said the new general manager on Friday, revealing the main lines of his strategy.

This will first go through a major consultation of staff, which had not been conducted since 2011. It will be an opportunity to take stock of working conditions. But Mathias Vicherat also intends to use it to “design Sciences Po within a negotiated and shared framework”.

To face up to foreign competition and earn the title of world research university, Sciences Po intends to increase the number of permanent teachers from 30% within five years. They are today 260, to which are added 4.600 contractors. “This evolution is the course of history”, assures Mathias Vicherat, who compares the 1.000 permanent teachers of the London School of Economics.

“A bonus-malus logic”

But how to finance the additional positions? The director has said it again, he “does not wish to increase registration fees apart from inflation”.

Regarding financial relations with the State – a third of the budget comes from public subsidies – he calls for “a multi-year discussion on a bonus-malus logic”, which is inspired by what Emmanuel Macron has just proposed: ” objectives would be set at Sciences Po and a grant would be modulated according to the achievement of the objectives”.

He also sees a source of potential income in the new National Institute of Public Service (INSP) which will succeed the ENA. “The INSP will have quite a few permanent teachers, we already have offers on the shelf that we are going to offer”, indicates Mathias Vicherat, referring to “first contacts”.

The establishment also relies on work-study as an “element of resource and professionalization of students”. It must be able to “be generalized for all master’s courses”. The increase in the offer of certain highly prized masters or double degrees – such as between Sciences Po and Columbia University (New York) or Sciences Po and HEC – is also an avenue mentioned.

Private funds

But the fresh money must above all come from continuing education and sponsorship. “Sciences Po is only at 10 million euros in turnover business against 30 million for HEC, so it’s a lever”, insists Mathias Vicherat, even if the continuing education market is very competitive.

It also relies on individual sponsorship (with former students) or collective sponsorship (with companies) to advance funding for chairs or research projects. Sciences Po wants to develop the model implemented with the McCourt Institute, which allocates 25 million dollars out of ten years and which, in this way, finances research projects and the recruitment of three professors.

The establishment therefore plans to finance permanent teaching positions “including from private funds”, “with the necessary ethical rules” – “it is Sciences Po who recruits and who decides, there must be a seal”, specifies Mathias Vicherat. The other way to increase the number of permanent teachers goes through the CNRS, with which the IEP must renew its agreement, and which could allow the establishment to have more teachers “paid” by the organization of research, Sciences Po funding only a supplement, namely the teaching load.

To put itself in order of battle, the IEP will launch, in February, the process of recruiting a director in charge of teaching and research, real number two of the establishment.