Since the 2000s, policies favoring university clusters and the concentration of higher education in metropolises have multiplied, to the great dismay of city councilors in medium-sized cities. For Gil Avérous, president of the Villes de France ociation (which represents these cities) and mayor Les Républicains de Châteauroux, there is however a need for “local training offer in line with local needs”.
Why do medium-sized cities advocate for strengthening higher education in their territories?
The desire to reindustrialize the country has once again become a national priority in recent years. If we want this reindustrialization to take place in medium-sized towns, given the saturation of large metropolises, we need a qualified workforce on site. While the trend has been, for fifteen years, towards a concentration of higher education in these metropolises, we need a rebalancing and a reinforced presence of higher education in our cities, as well as an adequate local training offer. with the needs of the territories.
In addition to the interest in the local economy and the revitalization of city centers, this presence is also necessary to avoid seeing our young people leave elsewhere for their studies, and be cut off from their territory of origin, as well as for all others who do not have the means to study far from home, and who, without nearby higher education establishments, stop their studies after the baccalaureate.
What levers do medium-sized cities have to attract establishments and students?
As they were still losing residents until a few years ago, medium-sized towns have affordable land and inexpensive student housing options. Establishments can therefore often be located directly in the city center – and not on campuses on the outskirts, as we often see –, as close as possible to the cultural offerings, shops, etc. This is important for students.
Regarding the type of training that we seek to develop in our cities, we must demonstrate ingenuity so as not to be too focused on general courses (history, literature, law, etc.), with which we find ourselves all the time. further in competition with the big cities. Teaching in specialist areas (water professions, advanced engineering or agronomy, for example) also makes it possible to adapt to local needs.
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