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France: Climbing the excellence mountain

Further concrete steps have been taken in the French excellence initiative, with the announcement of the first 100 laureates in the competition laboratoires d’excellence under government’s ‘Labex’ Programme, and the pre-selection of seven initiatives d’excellence under the ‘Idex’ Programme (see ACA Newsletter - Education Europe, September 2010).

The 100 ‘Labex’ projects were selected from among 241 applications by an international jury headed by Professor Manuel Velarde (physicist) of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and upon consultation of more than 500 international experts. The total budget of the initiative is EUR 1 billion, of which 90% will be generated from interest accumulated from President Sarkozy’s grand emprunt (EUR 35 billion in total). The distribution of the budget, which will occur over a period of ten years, is to be announced in the coming weeks. The majority of laureates (26) come from the field of social sciences and humanities and are concentrated in the Ile-de-France region.

In parallel, the seven initiatives shortlisted under the ‘Idex’ Programme could receive a total budget of up to EUR 7.7 billion. The institutions have been pre-selected, again by an international jury, under the chairmanship of Jean-Marc Rapp, President of the European University Association (EUA). The ‘Idex’ selection will be finalised during the summer, once the institutions will have finalised their dossiers following the recommendations of members of the jury.

French Ministry of Higher Education and Research (in French)