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A report recognizes the value of CIES

Laurent Cousin

In a recent report, the IGAENR views CIES (Centers for Training in Higher Education) “a model of effectiveness” but that “the state cannot maintain.”

In a report dated June 2009, the Inspectorate-General for National Education and Research Administration (IGAENR) describes the 14 Centers for Training in Higher Education (CIES) as “a model of effectiveness.” The authors would like the “experience gained in teacher training (...) to be preserved,” and even for their sphere of action be extended “to training all new teachers, whatever their status.”

These Centers for Training in Higher Education (CIES), established in 1989, have enabled 40,000 PhD students to practice teaching and research as teaching assistants. But with the start of the 2009 academic year, the new doctoral contract will replace teaching assistantships and research grants, and TAs will be appointed by universities instead of the CIES, which the report believes are essential to keep (...) and to have them ensure training for PhD students under contract who wish to teach.”

Another positive point for the CIES, TAs find their training better than other alternatives. Moreover, it is “a particularly cost-efficient structure,” with an estimated cost of 220 euros per TA, for a total of 1.6 million euros in 2008.

But not everything is so rosy. As regards the tutoring done by teaching-researchers, the IGAENR “identified a real working relationship with the tutors in only one CIES, in Grenoble,” without the blame lying only with the CIES.

The “success” of the CIES “naturally argues in favor of their continued funding,” the authors conclude. But the changes occurring with the new academic year “require considering other possibilities.” The IGAENR recommends entrusting the mission currently ensured by CIES to the new PRES (Poles for Research and Higher Education), “since these structures pool the resources of several institutions and one of the primary missions they have been given is coordination of the doctoral schools,” while pinpointing the difficulties that lie ahead, especially due to the overspecialization of institutions of higher learning.