An American observer comments on French politics.
I know there is ample room to complain about the proliferation of acronyms and jargon, but honestly I think things are getting better. And not worse. Imagine a huge army - an army of researchers - and they're all marching around in circles, in different directions, scrounging off each other, du grand n'importe quoi, as they say. That is research in France, or at least up until the past few years. With the reforms, there is hope that the habits and kneejerk reflexes of all the disparate units will be in sync or at least marching to the same tune. Maybe that's an odd metaphor but the way I see it is that the fonctionnaires who concocted the reform know that they're dealing with other fonctionnaires and the best way to improve the workings of a bureaucracy is to reorient the habits (such as when it comes to the very important inclination of looking for money). The universités (and grandes écoles) only ever say one thing: give us more money! (des moyens) There are those at Rue Descartes - and elsewhere - who believe its more than just a question of money. JB
As someone who is part of the few and famous IHU and a participant on a LABEX, here is a fact-based update. For the IHU, we have not seen one euro. However, being accustomed to the pace of administration here, that is not a surprise. On the same note, unless there are major changes, I doubt 2012 will be much better.For the Labex, indeed the money has been made available to partners, however, the host universities have not been able to complete the paperwork yet. This will create the Kafkaesque situation in which we will be forced to return the money we did not spend at the end of the year because the paperwork to spend it was too arduous to be completed in time--do not forget that administration offices also close their fiscal books in a few weeks so the end of the year for them is now. Vive la France!
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