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The building of the Target University: collective work for a common ambition

On The April 12, 2019

The building process of the Target University closely links careers and services with training and research. Since March 2018, staff and students have been involved in the construction of the Target University with regard to the political and academic orientation of the project. The collective contribution of the communities centers around large projects. A large number of inter-institutional work groups were established in order to encourage reflection and steer the transformation in the academic field, with regard to administrative organisation and the issue of social dialogue.

Academic reflection: a partnership of professors, administrative staff and students

A first inter-institutional brainstorming study began at the end of March 2018, with the objective of proposing working guidelines ("road maps") and defining the scope of future components of the Target University.

Deans and directors, as well as directors or representatives of research laboratories, teacher-researchers, vice-deans or assessors and administrative managers of the institutions’ components participated in this prelude that led to the implementation of the “Training and research divisions” (PFR - Pôles de formation et de recherche) work groups.

The PFRs' work groups

In July 2018, in keeping with the “Component roadmaps” work groups, the “Training and research divisions” (PFRs) work groups, corresponding to 8 training and research divisions of the future institution, were created. The objective of this work was to fix the scope of the training and research divisions, to set out their academic ambitions and their missions, and make proposals on the governance and the organisation of the division.

Having opened up to administrative staff and students since January 2019, the work of these groups led to the elaboration of a Strategic Plan for each PFR (presented in volume 3 of the general Strategic Plan). These texts are linked with the Target University’s Strategic Plan.

In parallel to this step, a work group dedicated to undergraduate programs, that worked in the form of workshops, was constituted by each PFR. In the same way, these works contributed to the Strategic Plan on the organization of undergraduate studies.

Furthermore, a “Saint-Étienne campus” brainstorming group, bringing together teacher-researchers, administrative staff and students, worked on the link between the Saint-Étienne site, the training and research divisions and the central services, to represent the strength of the participants from Saint-Étienne in the governance of the divisions and in the central governance.

Domain experts working on administrative organisation

From July 2018 to February 2019, the directors-general of services of the four institutions coordinated a situational analysis of the administrative organisation. The objective was to identify the commonalities and the differences between the institutions participating in the Target University project.

On the basis of these themes, 14 inter- and intra-institutional work groups, bringing together domain experts, convened very regularly to share knowledge and contribute to the debate. They produced the planned situational analyses. A steering committee dedicated to the convergence of information systems (SI) was implemented alongside this as of December 2018 to organise the work of 7 thematic groups, bringing together “professional” and “technical” expertise.

Meanwhile, a first study of the legal and institutional component was produced by the institutions’ legal departments. This debate contributes to the definition of a new type of institution, enabling the interlocking of legal entities, notably based on the future organisation and operation modes of this institution.

All the work produced in this 1st phase of the situational analysis contributes to the “administrative target design” work group, composed of directors-general of services and heads of institutions. Its mission is to define the organisational target (for 2025) as well as to outline the administrative transition phase that will begin once the new institution has been created (in 2020). Proceeding step by step, the work group will identify the main organisation principles of the future institution: the main areas of competence, the contribution of the central level and interactions with the divisions, as well as the interactions between the divisions, without forgetting the notion of campus.

A social dialogue conducted in close collaboration with the trade union organisations

In parallel to the academic, statutory and administrative conception of the Target University, a partnership agreement approach was set in motion in April 2019.

In order to involve staff representatives in the debate prior to any decision making, the heads of the institutions proposed the implementation of an inter-institutional social dialog body: the “Transformation Monitoring Group” (GST).

This body convenes on the subject of the two policy sponsors of the “partnership agreement” project; the staff representatives of the Technical Committee (CT) and the Health, Safety and Working Conditions Committee (CHSCT) of the four institutions and the Community of Universities and Higher Education Institutions (COMUE), human resources managers and directors-general of services of the four institutions and the COMUE, as well as the “HR” vice-president and experts depending on the subjects.

It is a place for exchanging ideas, discussion and inter-institutional information; an informal group that does not replace other existing bodies. Its goal is to contribute to evaluating changes and their impact on staff, to identify risks in order to better prevent them and to help the governing boards to make the most appropriate decisions, to be a place for reflection and discussion on the constitutive elements of the partnership agreement of the future institution (with regards to quality of working life, etc.)

The Transformation Monitoring Group reflects the desire of the governances to support staff very carefully throughout this transformation phase. It is designed to operate before the Target University is created, and may be active during the entire transition period, before the work of the consultative statutory bodies.