Friday, January 18, 2008

C'est bizarre!

I read this article about a new experiment by our Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) to improve parts of our education system in Malaysia. According to the article, it's a first of its kind collaboration programme. The implementation of the Malaysian-French Doctoral Network will allow academicians to conduct their doctorate studies under supervisors from Malaysian and French universities, and split their study period between the two countries.

Then, the article goes to list the Malaysian universities that are involved. That's when I found it particularly weird that there was no mention about the French universities. I was particularly interested to find out if ECP was involved, as I had visited that university while on my trip to Paris, last year. So, I did a little more digging.

First, I found out that the MoU was signed between our public universities' DVCs and Professor Olivier Audeoud, who is supposed to be the President of the Commission for European and International Relations for the Conference of University Presidents (what a long title). So, I googled up this commission and found nothing on it.

Next, I googled up the professor. Turns out that he is a legit. Phew! He is the president of Paris X University, Nanterre. Google also turned up a bunch of papers published by the professor. So, I assume that the mass media got it wrong with his extremely long title. Who could blame them. He should've just gone with his official title as the president of Universite Paris X.

Digging further, I found out that the programme was designed by the Malaysia-France University Centre (MFUC). So, I visited their website, which is incidentally named FMUC. Then, I discovered their official press release here. Turned out that the Malaysian print media did get the name wrong and yes, they had a list of the French universities involved.

  1. Université de Bordeaux 1
  2. Université de Bourgogne
  3. Université de Bretagne-Sud
  4. Université de La Rochelle
  5. Nancy Université
  6. Université de Paris-Est
  7. Université de Toulouse
Well, at least we can be safe with the knowledge that these are all fully accredited French universities. However, they're not really one of the Grandes écoles, which are higher education establishments outside the mainstream framework of the public universities system. Unlike the French public universities which have an obligation to accept all candidates who hold a Baccalauréat within their territorial competence, Grandes Écoles recruit mainly on written and oral competitive exams among the students of dedicated extra preparatory classes.

Anyway, according to the release: Upon completion of the Doctorate and defence of the thesis before a bilateral Jury, the student will be awarded a PhD degree from its Malaysian university and a National Doctorate degree from the French university.

Wah, not bad leh! Can get a double doctorate within 3-4 years. Afterall, according to the Deputy Minister, only 30 per cent out of 21,000 lecturers in public institutes of higher learning were PhD holders in 2006. The ministry hopes that with this new collaboration, it will raise the rate to 60 per cent by 2010. Must really praise our government for coming up with such a grand idea to accelerate the number of PhDs in our public universities.

1 comment:

simon said...

Just a few precisions on this matter. The Media did not get it wrong, they probably just lacked space to give explanations... The French Universities (of which you found the list) were represented for the signature by their Association of Vice-Chancellors, namely the Conférence des Présidents d'Universités (www.cpu.fr , sorry, in French only). And this association was represented by Mr. Audéoud, who is the president of the European and International Commission of this association (http://www.cpu.fr/Commission-permanente.304.0.html)
And yes, he also happens to be the President of the University of Paris X but he was not acting as such for this signature.

Another precision. 3 of the 7 universities selected to take part in this agreement (Nancy, Paris-Est, Toulouse) are the newly created Pôle de Recherche et d'Enseignement Supérieur (PRES) or Higher Education and Research Clusters). These clusters federate in a given region the universities and the Grandes Ecoles. Paris-Est for instance includes the universities of Val de Marne and Paris 12 but also the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (a very prestigious Grandes Ecole). Same for Toulouse (the only one with a page in English so far : http://www.univ-toulouse.fr/84516307/1/fiche___pagelibre/&RH=) and Nancy.