Globally, COVID-19 presents the most significant challenge to international student mobility since the Second World War. From the start of this epidemic, Centrale Marseille has redoubled its efforts to support its students in their choices, while ensuring the continuity of teaching activities. The school emerges calmly in regard to its adaptability and invests in new projects.
Case-by-case crisis management
The offers for mobility from the school are extremely rich. 96 destinations in 32 countries for a total of 252 students in incoming and outgoing mobility in 2019 alone. It has to be said that the staff were on deck to guide every student within the decision they have to take: stay or return. Olivier Boiron, Director of International Relations explained that "the establishment sent a strong signal by contacting all students individually and, if necessary their parents if those were reachable. The country coordinators organized follow-up sessions to inquire about the situation on the spot and to identify potential difficulties". His service offers chats to students, taking into account the different time zones. "We are working closely with embassies and government departments to be as responsive as possible. As soon as we have the information we pass it on. At first it was even directly through WhatsApp. We are really here. » Details Emmy Arts, Head of International Relations and Erasmus expert.
Validation of teaching units and fight against precariousness and social isolation
Thanks to the deployment of distance learning courses, Centrale Marseille is able to recognize the obtained credits. The partner establishments proceed identically and the Cti (Commission des Titres d'Ingénieur) concedes a relaxation of the internships given the situation. Student life continues… With new conditions to take into account, both social and financial. According to Emmy Arts, "some of our international students do not necessarily admit their vulnerability and the isolation caused by depopulated university residences". This is why the School works hand in hand with the student association ICM, which knows them better and fights against this feeling of abandonment. In addition, everything is in place to compensate for the costs of repatriation and the lack of resources linked to the loss of a job or an internship. The School decides to allocate the entire amount of CVEC, 37k€, and in the same time taking over from Erasmus and regional aid.
An active network, lever for progress
The events organized with international partners are canceled, of course, but the meetings continue online. In particular, the Mediterranean Network of Engineering Schools (RMEI), which brings together 160 members in 17 countries, is launching a vast investigation under the leadership of Olivier Boiron, its director general. "With this crisis, we have to adapt and in a sense we are pulled forward. It is important to collect the best practices that the virus has given birth to pool our skills and experiences ”.
Towards an inclusive return to school
In view of the number of partner destinations, it is obvious that the international welcome week will be unprecedented. To give itself a little more flexibility, Centrale Marseille decides to postpone it for a week. Without destructuring the model, the objective will be to welcome the new class year in the best possible conditions, by mixing students in site and distance. "What we really don't want is a difference in treatment and a differentiated reception. We know where we want to go and the tools deployed out by necessity during the crisis will help us." Concludes Carole Deumié, director of the establishment.
This crisis will have allowed us in particular to realize how important it is to move, to leave,and to meet the world outside, far from our cities, our comfort zone. People would tend to think that tomorrow, students will be less mobile, but we are convinced of the opposite. The desire to discover is not likely to decline, so much the better! We will need very high level engineers, executives and entrepreneurs who understand our world, its cultures to seize both its beauty and its fragile balance. "We receive a lot of messages from incoming students asking us not to cancel the year 2020-2021. We don't cancel anything at all! Reassures Emmy Arts.
Professional integration surveys show that 25% of Marseille centralians work internationally.