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Journal Articles French Politics Year : 2010

To belong or not to belong? The French model of elite selection and the integration of international students

Abstract

This article aims to identify the dynamics that shape the interaction of national and foreign students in the French grandes écoles (GE). It shows how contextual analysis and semi-directed interviews with students give different insights and understandings on the increasingly debated issue of the future and the survival of France's idiosyncratic model of elite selection and training in a globalizing and competitive higher education context. The study reveals that, unlike their French peers, international students attending the GE have difficulty developing a sense of belonging to these institutions. This finding emphasizes the limits to the internationalization of French GE, especially in relation to their comparatively restrained visibility on the international stage, their traditional vocation to train the senior branches of the civil service (grands corps de l’Etat), and above all the French concours (competitive exam) system for selecting the nation's elites. This cornerstone of the French republican ideal conveys a restrictive representation of merit and excellence that creates an established/outsider configuration between national and international students, respectively, that challenges the internationalization of these schools.

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Education
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Dates and versions

hal-03398963 , version 1 (23-10-2021)

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Brigitte Darchy-Koechlin, Hugues Draelants. To belong or not to belong? The French model of elite selection and the integration of international students. French Politics, 2010, 8 (4), pp.429-446. ⟨10.1057/fp.2010.22⟩. ⟨hal-03398963⟩
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