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The international outlook concerning education at Université Paris-Saclay

Education Article published on 06 January 2022 , Updated on 17 May 2023

(This article was originally published in L'Édition No.17)

Promoting intercultural experiences and furthering the skills of its staff and students, and increasing its attractiveness and helping to forge a common identity for all its stakeholders are some of the major objectives of the strategy for an international outlook promoted by Université Paris-Saclay. After a difficult year in which the health crisis has badly affected travel abroad, it is clear that today initiatives in this area are gaining ever increasing ground. 

With 38% of international students enrolled on Master courses and 45% on PhDs, as well as 185 French students spending their first semester of 2021/2022 abroad, there is no doubt that the international outlook of Université Paris-Saclay is going from strength to strength. A key objective in terms of strategy, this desire for international openness is not just limited to increased mobility, but extends to all aspects of teaching. 


Ever more Master’s degrees taught in English

A telltale sign – 18 Master 1 and 37 Master 2 courses are taught entirely in English. Designed to offer training in line with major international standards, these Master’s degrees are increasingly popular today. “They have the advantage not only of preparing students for the world of research where the majority of publications are written in English, but also of offering international career opportunities,” explains Olivier Bos, who is responsible for the Master 1 in Economics. Launched in 2020 and supported by ENS Paris-Saclay and the Jean Monnet Faculty, this very selective Master (700 applications for 50 places in Master 2) is mostly made up of French students at the moment. “We’re sure that the share of international students will increase over the years along with the attractiveness of our University,” adds Matthieu Crozet, who is responsible for the Master 2. 


Opening up Université Paris-Saclay to international students

Université Paris-Saclay also offers other international study programmes to increase its openness to international students further. These include the Erasmus Mundus Masters. “Designed and delivered jointly within the framework of an international partnership between several higher education institutions in different countries, the strengths of these Master’s programmes are that they attract students from all over the world and allow them to spend two periods of study in two countries different from their country of residence and, at the end of the programme, to be awarded a joint degree or multiple degrees,” explains Eva Renouf, who is responsible for the SERP+ Master. Supported by Université Paris-Saclay in conjunction with universities in Italy, Poland, Portugal and nineteen other associated partners, the SERP+ Master (which focuses on chemistry, physical chemistry and materials science) has welcomed over thirty different nationalities of students since its creation in 2008. Ola Alayan, a student from Lebanon currently studying for a SERP+ Master 2, is one of these. “With fellow students from all over the world, a semester of study in Italy and the quality of the teaching – everything in this Master’s programme is as good as I expected when I enrolled!” French students, such as Coline Thevenard, are equally delighted by this international aspect. She is a first year student studying for the new LASCALA (Large Scale Accelerators and Lasers) Erasmus Mundus Master. “It’s this openness to the world, which for me is inseparable from a scientific approach that persuaded me to join this Master course.”

Opportunities for periods spent abroad at Université Paris-Saclay

Université Paris-Saclay is committed to increasing its attractiveness, it is also working to increase the number of intercultural experiences for its students, particularly in Europe. Europe is the perfect environment for trying out the values of inclusiveness, sustainable development and European citizenship promoted by the University. 

Université Paris-Saclay has partnerships with the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich (Germany), Lund University (Sweden), the University of Porto (Portugal) and the University of Szeged (Hungary) within the framework of the European University Alliance for Global Health (EUGLOH) project for the creation of a pilot European university concentrating on the issue of global health. As part of the Erasmus+ course, it is now possible for students, from undergraduate to doctoral level, to benefit from services and funding which facilitate short or long periods abroad in one of the member universities of EUGLOH. Also, thanks to the digitalisation initiative launched during the pandemic, more than 90 online courses have also been developed and are offered to students at the five universities. 

More generally, “The Erasmus+ course grants exemption from tuition fees and a monthly maintenance allowance,” explains Julie Hérisson, who directs the Mobility Centre at the Department for International and European Relations at Université Paris-Saclay 
To promote the mobility of its students outside the European Union, Université Paris-Saclay benefits from international credit mobility (ICM) programmes to universities in ten non-European countries, as well as collaborative programmes with North America (BCI, MICEFA or TASSEP exchange programmes).


Training academic staff and researchers in taking an international perspective

In addition to these schemes for students, Université Paris-Saclay is also aiming to provide the best possible support for its academic staff and researchers. The latter can benefit from thirteen strategic partnership projects set up by the University with at least two stakeholders from two different countries with whom innovative teaching practices can be developed and shared. 

“Another factor, which has long been underused by lecturers and staff is the Erasmus+ programme which offers them short-term travel opportunities to deliver courses or to benefit from training or sharing good practice,” adds Julie Hérisson. 

For those for whom language is a barrier, Université Paris-Saclay offers the chance to study one or more of the fourteen foreign languages taught at its various sites. To help prepare their courses within the context of English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI), lecturers can take a look at the Captivate! workshops organised remotely by the Academic Writing Centre of Université Paris-Saclay. “By focusing the learning on storytelling, the aim of this series of four workshops is to help lecturers teach more effectively within an EMI context, but above all to give them the tools to gradually prepare their lessons independently,” explains Divya Mahdavan, the Academic Writing Centre’s coordinator. 


International summer schools for all

Students, PhD students, engineers and researchers from Université Paris-Saclay or from other French or international universities can all take part in international Summer Schools covering many subject areas. It is an opportunity for everyone to enjoy a rich cultural and social programme as part of an international group. 


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