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The University of French Guiana contributes to the Campus RUP alliance, among other strengths, a scientific specialization in the Amazon forest and its cultures, and a strategic location as the only French and European university in South America. It is a young academic institution of the French State, founded in 2015. On the campus of Troubiran, in Cayenne, 31 Higher Education programs are taught, including 19 Degrees and 12 Postgraduate Degrees. The University Consortium of the outermost regions of the European Union –of which Guayana is part, together with the universities of the Antilles, La Réunion, Madeira, Azores, La Laguna and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria– will give a unique voice to the outermost regions in the European Higher Education Area and will make visible in the EU the university education, science and innovation of these remote and insular ecosystems of knowledge –as explained by the team of Rector Antoine Primerose.
From the International Relations Office, its head, Rémy Dezelus, responds to the Europa Rup questionnaire.
What is the underlying reason for your University to participate in the Call for European Universities with a consortium that unites the seven universities of the outermost regions, and not with other consortiums?
Exchange of experiences at work methodology level, better knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the ORs as members of the European Union. The idea of having a RUP force, a unique voice within the EU, that allows us to defend common interests and, at the same time, the particularity of each of our regions and universities.
The RUP Consortium allows us a better knowledge of the academic offer of each of the seven RUPs and of the scientific opportunities that we offer. It is a powerful tool to go further and plan with a vision of the future taking into account aspects such as professional insertion, socioeconomic development, environment and sustainability with the endogenous characteristics of each RUP territory.
What strengths and opportunities does your university contribute to the Campus Rup project?
The University of French Guiana is specialized in fields of scientific studies of the tropical theme: Ecology and Tropical Biodiversity (forest and animals), and in the area of Medicine, studies of Tropical diseases. We have a wide knowledge of the Amazon. The University of Guayana also brings a vast knowledge in the field of interculturality and multilingualism that we offer in the Master Societies and Interculturality. The different waves of migration that have shaped the history of Guiana are at the heart of the issue. We have a strategic position as the only European university in South America, this allows us to make contacts with international partners, share them and position the RUP Consortium in the region.
The University of Guayana in depth
Campus Rup foresees that fifty percent of university students will move between the outermost universities within a period of three years. Are your institutions ready to face the technological, administrative and cultural change that is involved in building a virtual campus, recognizing credits and qualifications and understanding in English and in three other languages? In terms of physical mobility, will students have aids for their stays in other overseas universities?
Competencies with respect to technological change:
The University of French Guiana already has experience in E-learning (MOOC) and has a digital campus since 2015. With a partner in New York, we also practice Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) since 2017. The effort of proposing virtual courses has been an initiative of the teachers, and that energy is what will allow us to successfully face the challenges that, obviously, will be presented to us with Campus Rup ..
We have set up a linguistic resource center at the University whose mission is to reinforce the language skills of the campus users in English, Spanish and Portuguese. However, French is the predominant language of education but the idea is to make progress in the implementation of courses in the other two RUP languages. But it is obvious that the mastery of French will be essential for a foreign student who wishes to make a mobility at the University of Guayana, in the same way that our students will have to master the predominant language of the RUP university they choose for a stay.
«Campus RUP is an innovative and unique project. The universities that we integrate are from seven islands and a continent, and by our geographical location we include two oceans. It is also unique in terms of scientific research, but also in the linguistic field»
The rest of the university services are already oriented to make viable the international opening of the University of Guiana, so that we can affirm that we are in optimal conditions both for incoming and outgoing mobilities. We have an International Office that optimizes its resources to promote the incoming mobilities: Erasmus guide, welcome brochure, individualized reception, good relationship with the referring professors … However, we have a lot of work ahead to solve aspects such as accommodation for students and transport logistics in French Guiana.
The International Office encourages mobility initiatives and supports students with briefings. We have a wide range of scholarships and funding for mobility programs: Erasmus scholarships, support from the State Department, Scholarships of excellence etc …
Two postgraduate courses will be taught, a Master’s Degree in European Studies and another in Blue Economy. What will each of them contribute to the graduates?
The students of the Faculty of Legal and Economic Sciences could have a high interest in this Master that does not exist yet in the University of Guiana, it could be a new opportunity for our students who are in the degree of Business Administration or in Law. On the other hand, the students of the Tourism degree and the master’s degree in Ecology and studies of the Tropical Ecosystem may also be interested in following courses related to the Blue Economy.
They are committed to creating science connected to the industry, and in line with the smart specialization strategy. How will Campus Rup contribute to European innovation?
The University of French Guiana has already committed itself to a knowledge transfer plan with the industrial sector to promote the development of endogenous economic activities and, therefore, human and social development. However, there are a number of issues, which I detail below, that limit the capacities and put barriers to achieve this success in general throughout France and, therefore, also in the French ORs.
The economic issues related to innovation are increasingly crucial. Increasingly fierce global competition makes it necessary for companies to increase their innovation potential. Innovation allows companies to face many challenges.
Universities must guarantee the dissemination of knowledge to society as a whole, while companies maximize their benefit through the capitalization of knowledge. However, the lack of funding, by the University, and the need for experts in research, by industry, lead to a partial privatization of the knowledge and attitude of academics and industry that favor the association. French fundamental research seeks to succeed through the commercial exploitation of its results: patent applications, license sales, effective R & D transformation in salable products … Therefore, the problem lies in the capacity of research systems to transform its results into innovation.
It is clear that there are considerable differences in the capacity of R&D to become innovation in accordance with the national innovation systems in which a certain research is carried out. A national innovation system is defined as a «network of public and private sector institutions whose activities and interactions help initiate, import, modify and disseminate new technologies».
«Economic issues related to innovation are increasingly crucial. Increasingly fierce global competition makes it necessary for companies to increase their innovative potential»
What will Campus Rup contribute to the European Higher Education Area? How will it contribute to making the outermost singularity better understood in European capitals?
A voice and a unilateral force in front of the European Commission and the EU, with respect to the subject of Higher Education. The limits and barriers found by all the students of the ORs can be shared and spoken, to cite some examples I would say that Campus Rup is a way to reduce barriers in aspects such as distance, air connections, cost of living, opportunities to continue studies, difficulties to obtain visas, etc.
Campus RUP with its network of seven universities from the outermost regions of the European Union is formed with the desire to offer more visibility in the training maps and the scientific activities carried out respectively in each RUP and put under the focus shows differentiated quality in the context of Higher Education and European Research in the macro region.
Why does Campus Rup deserve to be chosen as one of the first projects of the European Universities Initiative?
It is an innovative and unique project. The RUP members that we integrate are from seven islands and a continent, and by our geographical location we include two oceans.
Campus Rup is unique in terms of scientific research (islands and continental), but also in the linguistic field: French, Spanish and Portuguese
This project could be a concrete response to the social and economic problems of these territories that should provide an influence in its regional basin.