Interview with Mr Frédéric MION, President of Sciences Po [fr]
Following his visit to Ghana at the end of 2018, read our interview with the President of Sciences Po, Mr. Frédéric Mion, who talks to us about the renowned French university and its projects for Ghana and Africa.
Could you introduce yourself in a few words?
I am fortunate to have known Sciences Po first as a student, then to have taught and even worked there at the beginning of my career. So, I am logically very attached to this institution. After several years’ experience in administration (Ministries of Public Service and National Education) and the private sector (Allen & Overy law firm and the Canal+ group), I assumed my position as President of Sciences Po in 2013. This marked a new stage in my commitment to the institution and I am delighted to be leading our teams to carry out major and decisive reforms for the future of Sciences Po. If I had to choose one of them for the purposes of our interview, I would gladly touch on our "Campus 2022" project.
In 2022, Sciences Po will celebrate its 150th anniversary. We would like to take this opportunity to give a new impetus to our institution. This will take the form of a reorganisation of our various Parisian sites to be located around the Hôtel de l’Artillerie, acquired by Sciences Po in 2017 and which will open its doors at the start of the 2021 academic year.
Tell us a bit about Sciences Po.
Sciences Po is an international research university, selective, open to the world, which ranks among the best universities in humanities and social sciences. Sciences Po exists because its founder, Emile Boutmy, in 1872, wanted to create a brand-new institution that provided the training that was lacking to the elites of his time. Nearly one hundred and fifty years later, Sciences Po has become an internationally ranked university with a population of about 14 000 students. But his educational and scientific project remains, guided by a very strong objective to understand the world and to transform it. To understand the world in its complexity, we need to multiply perspectives. For this reason, we believe in the multidisciplinary approach of our training and that our students’ fields of study cannot be limited within the borders of France.
The internationalisation of our teaching and student bodies, our network of partner universities as well as the events and conferences we organise make Sciences Po a melting pot of diversity and openness to the world.
What exchanges does your school have with African countries and in what way can studying at Sciences Po help these students’ careers?
Sciences Po today hosts a network of 30 university partnerships that are reciprocal in nature and are spread across the African continent and its linguistic zones, from Morocco to South Africa, through Ghana, Senegal or even Kenya. Practically, every year about fifty of our students participate in a one-year academic exchange programme at one of these universities and we in return also welcome their students.
Studying at Sciences Po, whether for a one-semester exchange programme or a degree programme (a choice made by 120 African students each year at the undergraduate level and 150 students at the master’s level) presents students with a unique opportunity: ground-breaking international exposure; more than 150 nationalities are represented on our campuses. There is also the possibility of taking courses delivered by the best specialists in the field of the social sciences, with a multidisciplinary approach to the major issues in our societies as well as an original educational method of combining theory and practice.
In Africa, on a continent where trade is intensifying, where regional integration is making its way; the added value of training at Sciences Po for a young person preparing his career journey is real. Our programmes cover a broad spectrum of competences (public policy, economics, international relations, finance, communication, etc.) which are sought after in both the private and public sector and respond to the contemporary challenges of the continent.
In addition, Sciences Po offers courses in French and English and presents the student with the opportunity to learn, practice and improve in one or more of the twenty-five other languages proposed. This dimension resonates well in Ghana, an anglophone country surrounded by francophone neighbours and which has made language proficiency a factor for growth.
Could you tell us about your projects in Ghana?
Ghana is one of the pillars of our development in English-speaking Africa. Our university cooperation here is also very dynamic; we currently have four partnership agreements in the country with: University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration and Ashesi University.
Ghanaian students who are interested in Sciences Po and wish to come to study there increase every year. This is very positive, but we wish to go further and deepen our links with Ghana even more. In view of this, we are reflecting with our local partners about the possibility of awarding double-degrees. A magnificent project for the future!