Sarkozy’s €7,7 billion excellence bet

Nieuws | de redactie
7 februari 2012 | Back in 2010, the French government borrowed over €35 billion to finance an ambitious research excellence program. €7,7 billion of these funds will now be allocated to eight university clusters which are part of Sarkozy’s ambition to consolidate the segmented French HE sector.

In 2010, French President Nicolas Sarkozy launched “Investmentsfor the Future”, an excellence program worth €35 billion. Goal wasto foster the economy by massively boosting the stand of the Frenchresearch sector and the institutions involved.

Big chunk of the program is dedicated to the ExcellenceInitiative (Idex) which will allocate €7,7 billion to eightselected conglomerates consisting of universities and otherresearch institutes. Now, the government announced the completelist of groups that were selected for a large cash infusion.

Debt financing excellence

In addition to Bordeaux, Strasbourg, and Paris Sciences etLettres which were selected last year, Aix-Marseille, Paris-Saclay,Sorbonne Université, Sorbonne Paris Cité, and Toulouse will receiveextra funding. The focus on conglomerates instead of individualinstitutes was chosen consciously as Sarkozy wants to consolidate the segmented French highereducation sector through mergers.

Observers labeled Sarkozy’s ambitious Investments for the Futureprogram also as “The Big Loan” since all of the funds were raisedon the financial markets through leverage financing. Notablemembers of the Idex jury were Jean-Marc Rapp, president of theEuropean University Association (EUA), andknown French economist Philippe Aghion from Harvard University.

Upcoming April French President Nicolas Sarkozy is going to facehis opponent François Hollande from the Socialist party duringthe Presidential Elections. Sarkozy is known to revert to policiesthat appear opportunistic at times. Whether his excellence bet hasgot him a greater share of the electoral vote remains to beseen.

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