It is a long-term introspective work carried out for two years by the seven national institutes of applied sciences (INSA), the first group of public engineering schools, with 22,000 students trained each year. The result is contained in two hundred pages in a White Paper, presented on Wednesday November 23, which recalls the original ambition of the network: to fight against social assignment.
Born at the turn of the 1960s, at a time when France lacked engineers, these schools question themselves sixty years later on “the illusion of equal opportunity” that they have maintained, particularly in recent years, at a time when there is once again a shortage of engineers – the deficit is estimated at more than 5,000 graduates per year, according to the Conference of Directors of French Engineering Schools ( CDEFI).
The INSAs have seen students from modest and disadvantaged social backgrounds move away in recent years: in 2021-2022, 69.9% of their engineering students are from very privileged backgrounds and the rate of Crous scholarship holders on social criteria is 30 .4%, continues to erode (− 3.3 points in six years). Moreover, only 5.2% of scholarship students come from the highest levels (5 to 7), which is ” very weak “ in view of the rate of 12.3% observed in higher education, underlines the White Paper.
“The recognition of the illusion of equal opportunities now requires us to propose disruptive actionsexplains Bertrand Raquet, president of the INSA Group and director of INSA Toulouse. Our post-baccalaureate schools have a great responsibility for social ascent. We show the will to register as experimenters, demonstrators »in sight “to bring on board other establishments that share our desire for social openness to selective sectors”.
A specific way of recruitment
Among the many proposals that dot the report, the most innovative consists in creating – on the model of Sciences Po and the ZEP high schools in 2001 – a specific recruitment channel in the first year post-baccalaureate, reserved for students from disadvantaged social backgrounds, educated in certain partner high schools, selected on social and territorial criteria. “These students could benefit from an individualized and in-depth examination of their application file and from additional methods compared to those of other candidates in the general stream, such as for example the evaluation of a project carried out in high school and/or a mandatory maintenance », details the White Paper. Economic, academic, cultural and professional integration assistance would be provided during the five years of the course.
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