Why French Higher Education Ranks So High In Biz Schools, And So Low Elsewhere

France's business and management schools top the Financial Times' annual European rankings, but French higher education system still lags in other surveys.

By Dominique Seux

PARIS - Four of the top10; five of the top 15; eighteen of the top 70. France can indeed be proud of the 2010 results of the annual European business and management school rankings conducted by our colleagues at the Financial Times. Indeed our two shining lights, HEC Paris (École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris) and INSEAD (Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires), claimed the first and third overall spots, while ESCP Europe has also taken a great leap forward.

Beyond the endless debates about the relevance of the criteria that lead to these results, these scores can be read in two ways. The first relates directly to the educational community: a confirmation of the strategy employed for many years by these schools to strengthen the faculty, while offering more and more master's, MBA and continuing education programs for executives.

The second reading should interest the public at large. The success of institutions that have managed to impose their brand internationally is proof that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the French have definitely not kissed goodbye to the economy and trade! The influence of the alumni of these schools also continues to grow, as shown by another notable indicator: the number of reviews in the "Who's Who."

These results, however, raise another question. Why are the French "Grandes Ecoles' in the fields of management and engineering rated so highly in the European charts, yet find themselves in trouble when the competition widens?

These elite schools are separate from the French university system and present two major differences: universities are the cheaper option and have an obligation to accept all students; "grandes ecoles' can cost ten times more and select the best students based on written and oral exams.

The best-known illustration is the by now infamous results of French institutions (and similarly dismal showings across much of Europe) in the Shanghai Rankings of world universities. The problem reflects a multifaceted reality. The importance given to basic sciences, the accumulation of Nobel Prizes and the number of articles published in major journals plays against Europe and France. Another explanation offered is less convincing: it is the "scale effect", which has led Valerie Pécresse, France's Minister of Higher Education, to ask the institutions to band together. But this proposal naturally appears questionable in the face of the outstanding performances of small institutions such as Insead and ENS (École normale supérieure) at Rue d'Ulm.

The truth is that in terms of financial commitment and other resources devoted to students, French schools are still dwarfed by their competitors, particularly those in the United States. Of course, this is not very politically correct to say.

Read the original story in French

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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