Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reforming the University Reform

Was I wrong? I fairly confidently predicted that the Hollande administration would let stand the changes in French higher ed wrought by the LRU, better known as la Loi Pécresse, which shifted power from the Ministry of Ed to university presidents. Or so it was said. Pécresse's replacement, Geneviève Fioraso, about whom I know nothing, claims that in fact this ostensible transfer of power was "a fake," and that university presidents who tried to act on their own were soon shot down by the ministry.

This wouldn't entirely surprise me. Indeed, this is the historical pattern of decentralization reforms in France. In any case, Fioraso says that the new government will file a bill proposing a new reform. But--and the nuance is worth noting--the new reform will be based on the same principle as the old, that power should be shifted away from the center. But this time, she says, there will by no "hyperpresidentialization" and "more coordination" with faculty, staff, and other interested stakeholders. Could even be true. So was I wrong or right? The principle of the old reform will remain, but the implementation will be different, so I was right. On the other hand, the implementation may be so different that the principle itself is changed. That is the hope of opponents of the LRU. So I was wrong. Or, then again, the new implementation may be thwarted by ministerial reflex, as the old one allegedly was, in which case, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

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