What is your assessment for the University after these two years of Covid?
BR: I found that we were very accommodating, especially when setting up distance learning courses. As soon as we managed to bring the students back, we preferred the courses that needed full-time internships. We wanted to have the exams done directly at the university so that we would not lose credibility. In terms of education, we have not weakened. I am proud of the social support we have. Psychology consultation cells were created. We called every student. We have also introduced measures to restore social ties.
Has the University of Nîmes offered help in combating student insecurity?
BR: Every Wednesday, she comes to the Secours populaire website to distribute packed lunches. We organize sales 3 to 4 times a year to have access to basic needs at reduced prices. With the city, we have introduced food aid, housing aid and computer loans to avoid the digital divide. We have retained these tools, which are still valid. We have a long-term partnership with Food Bank, Crous and Secours Populaire. We also work with the city and communities. We are one of the first devices to make regular protection available free of charge. In cooperation with the school of midwives, we also bring in several people who do free consultations. With Pôle emploi, we organized job listings so that our students could get seasonal contracts.
What is the situation today?
BR: We are seeing a relatively significant increase in the number of insecure students. We try to resolve this as soon as possible. Our problem is to identify them. Some are in trouble but don’t know about themselves. Our fear is to leave students on the floor without us knowing. There are always those who do not feel entitled to be helped.
The University of Nîmes is in full swing. What are the reasons?
BR: We are a multidisciplinary university with the exception of healthcare. I think that our reputation is beginning to show itself about this specificity of professionalization. We pay great attention to the success of our students. That’s why we offer support to get them to the center of attention. In a short time, we got from 4,500 to almost 6,000 students. We have been forced to limit ourselves for two years. We must reject some who want to go home because we do not have the capacity to look after them. We will not create additional training to please everyone. We want our students to find work after their studies. These are our priorities. At the beginning of the 2021 school year, we had 60% Gardois in the early years.
What original courses do you offer?
BR: We have a master’s degree in business innovation design and a second in clinical psychology. We are pioneers in the master’s degree in environmental psychology. After professional courses, we offer a section on textile and wine tourism.
Why is the University of Nîmes attracting more people than before?
BR: We have an excellent championship success. L’Étudiant magazine ranked us 5th among the universities with the highest rankings. It is at the level of 76.8%. Most importantly, 88% of our graduating students will subsequently find a direct job. When measuring the quality of education, we rely on two criteria: support and employability.
The future of the university
What do you think is the future of the university in France?
BR: In my opinion, there are too many entrances to various establishments. That doesn’t mean you have to make a choice. With all the respect I have for professional graduates, they have more space in BTS training. My goal is not to enter the university, but to leave it. The French system as it is, gives everyone a chance. When you see the rate of successful graduation, it is quite difficult. This results in over-representation of sectors. The university is here to welcome them, ensure their success and allow them to be employed. A university degree has a value that needs to be maintained.
How to face this tendency to have masters who are difficult to access?
BR: We could accept more students, but that wouldn’t be interesting, because a certain number would find themselves unemployed with a +5. I will not double my workforce to achieve more numbers. The problem is that we have to do the work of strangulation.
BR: We are vigilant against discrimination at all levels. We have references on this topic. We have few problems of this type because we are few caught. The size of the business allows us to be even more careful. Students who wish to do so may change their first name on the student ID card. We are trying to combat all these forms of discrimination by making these minorities visible, so that we can prove to them that they are like everyone else. The University of Nîmes is inclusive.