Thursday, November 12, 2009

Scholarships and Grandes Ecoles

Valerie Pécresse has set a goal of 30% scholarship students for all Grandes Ecoles. Current levels:

Sur cette base, 20,7 % des étudiants d'école de management sont boursiers, contre 22,9 % des étudiants d'écoles d'ingénieurs. Les décalages entre établissements sont importants. Certains établissements sont déjà proches de l'objectif, comme l'ESC Grenoble (22,5 %), ou l'ENS Cachan (30,17 %). A l'autre bout de la chaîne, l'cole des mines de Paris ne compte que 9,47 % de boursiers, suivie par Polytechnique (11,03 %), les écoles de commerce les plus sélectives (12,3 % en moyenne pour HEC, Essec, ESCP…) et l'Ecole centrale Paris (13,67 %).

These figures count only students entering from preparatory classes, not from the universities. Clearly, the top schools have some way to go. In 2007, the income cap for eligibility for scholarships was lifted from 27,000 to 32,440 euros. This was a controversial move, as some alleged that it would increase the proportion of "middle-class" candidates relative to "the disfavored."

For comparison, Harvard offers tuition relief to students whose parents make up to $180,000 per year (adjusted gross income): tuition is capped at 10% of parental AGI. The same criticism has been leveled at the Harvard program (a Larry Summers innovation): it is too generous to people who are relatively well off.


Anonymous said...

Of pertinence are the following questions: what is the % of students from lower-income households who enter into les classes prépa?

With Valérie Pécresse I can confirm that there should be more students from lower-income households at the grande écoles. Not to boost numbers and quotas for simply the sake of number-crunching (oh how education bureaucracies love to number-crunch! ) - but rather to keep paths to upward mobility alive and kicking.
the concours to the grandes écoles isnt going to change, no matter how many ways the number-crunchers change the parameters and quotas to achieve.
If a kid doesn't have the math skills, he or she isn't going to pass the concours to a management or engineering school.
Pécresse may say 30% scholarship, aka lower-income students, by year "X". But the demanding - crazy mindblowingly demanding difficulty of these concours - isn't going to change.
If a rich, middle-class or poor kid doesn't have the skillz, he aien't gonna pass. And even if they did allow math-skilled challenged kids to enter a grande école, they'd explose after their first year.

Chris P.

MYOS said...

Chris, I disagree; many kids don't enter a classe prépa simply because they do not know they exist. Some of the prépa actively discourage them - I remember the major from Polytechnique explaining with barely suppressed rage, many years later, how everyone had tried to tell him his math grades meant nothing because he came from a poor school "and thus" would not cut it in a prépa "and thus" should not hurt himself by applying.
I actually heard the principal of a famous lycée state the exact same reasoning and turn down what sounded like an absolutely stellar student from a very disadvantaged school and a very disadvantaged family "with 7 little brothers and sisters, anyway, she wouldn't have time to study, in these families the oldest girl must take care of them" . At the time I was new enough to France that it shocked me speechless.
Coming from a "poor" school is not a positive sign of social aspirations in the French system, but a stigma - notwithstanding the fact that maintaining any kind of exceptional average in a ZEP means the kid has a will of steel because good grades lead to beatings. How many kids from a rich school would have the average they got if it meant getting beat up every day?
When they do go, they're rarely made to feel welcome, they're outsiders looking in. Many prepa use hazing (although it's been illegal for a while) such as making first-years drink pastis pure, until they puke. What is a Moslem to do then?

I personally would recommend you read _A hope in the unseen_ by Ron Suskind.

On a side note, what's the point of " crazy mindblowingly demanding difficult"? MIT, Harvard, Princeton or Stanford seem to educate students without inflicting such demands upon students, yet neither the schools nor the students seem to suffer from the comparison.

MYOS said...

60% French adults do NOT have a bac.
Among first-generation bac takers who got a "mention" for their own bac, only 20% go for a prépa.
Les échos explain further how it's not really a matter of intelligence or level but more a matter of "cultural capital".
NB: France is the developed country where "cultural capital" is the most determining in terms of selection.