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Focus on the internationalization of Higher Education in Mexico and the Franco-Mexican scientific cooperation

Clarisse Faria-Fortecoëf

Second largest economy in Latin America after Brazil, Mexico is a young country where public investment in R&D, Higher Education and in the support to host a growing number of students, teachers and researchers from various countries including France, is a priority.
Some context elements

The Mexican Higher Education is one of the largest in Latin America. With more than 2,400 institutions (near 1000 are public), it hosts 3.2 million of students, an increase of over 50% in 10 years (Source SEP, Secretaría de Educación Pública). Between 2000 and 2011, federal government funding to support public universities increased by 64%, an effort which continues in 2013.
In studies/degrees organization terms, at the Master and PhD level, the system is substantially the same as in France : two years for the Maestria and three for the Doctorado.

The international dimension

The internationalization of Higher Education is a key priority for the Mexican government. The objective is to support innovative joint programs, joint degrees, joint supervision of theses, set up of academic networks and scholar exchanges. This orientation is mainly supported by institutions like the Tecnológico de Monterrey Institute has representative offices worldwide including France and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) which also pursues the idea of opening an office in Paris.

At the outgoing mobility level (UNESCO source), France is the third destination of Mexican students (1,954 in 2010, an increase of 32.1% compared to 2006). The first two countries are the United States (13,330,  -7.6% vs. 2006) and Spain (2,933, +72% vs. 2006).

In terms of incoming mobility and according to the Patlani survey (Mexican national survey of international student mobility) conducted in 2010-2011, France ranks first with 1,448 students enrolled in Mexican institutions in 2011, followed by the United States (1015) and Spain (757). Regarding the funding matter of this mobility, the AMEXCID (Agencia Mexicana de cooperación internacional para el desarrollo) created in 2011 is in charge of the management of scholarship programs of the Mexican government for foreign students wishing to go to Mexico.
These scholarships are open to students of all education levels, visiting professors and researchers, as well as artists.
In the case of France and in the framework of the bilateral program, scholarships for French people are managed by the Embassy of Mexico in France and those for Mexican people by the French Embassy in Mexico. For more information about these programs, you can visit the following address.

The Franco-Mexican scientific cooperation

The R&D, also a priority of Mexico, is a key element of this cooperation. In the scientific field, France is the third partner in Mexico (measured by the number of co-publications) after the United States and Spain.  Projets in progress (approximately one hundred)  currently involve more than 500 researchers and students from both countries.
Essential partner, the  CONACyT (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología), responsible for the development of national policies and programs in the field of science and technology (S&T), supports about 200 joint research projects with foreign institutions each year and proposed, in 2013, 4,184 scholarships for master's and doctoral studies, including 253 for studies in France.
Furthermore, it has 27 research centers in all areas and spread over the whole territory.
Two French research centers in Mexico also help to strengthen this cooperation:
  • The IRD (French Institute of Research for Development) works closely with its Mexican partners (scientific and academic institutions, government agencies, private laboratories ...) in the framework of a general agreement with the CONACyT. About thirty specific research programs are jointly funded by the IRD and its partners in Mexico.
Among the perspectives, the "Franco-Mexican Forum for Research and Innovation" of June 2013 (please see our article of April 30, 2013) allowed to review the scientific cooperation between France and Mexico, as well as areas for development and improvement of schemes set up by both countries : researchers' support,  training and mobility of PhD students, links between research and private sector.

Also interesting

Campus France Mexico organizes in 2014 with the French Embassy in Mexico, a large promotional event in the framework of the 50th anniversary of the visit of the General de Gaulle in Mexico and Latin America: " the Franco-Mexican Week of Higher Education and Research". This event also  follows the visit of Mexican rectors in France in October 2013. The traditional european Europostgrados fair will take place at the same period.

The above information is particularly based on the DOSSIER Mexique, fifteenth volume of the Campus France collection published on the occasion of the Country Day Mexico (please see our article of 29 July 2013) organized in Paris on October 1st, 2013 by Campus France and the French Embassy in Mexico.