About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6841-6847
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain

THE PROFESSIONALISATION OF DEGREE COURSES: NEW ISSUES IN AN OLD DEBATE. THE CASE OF FRANCE

J.Y. Leroux

Paul Valery University (FRANCE)
The question of the professionalisation of university courses in not new. It has been an issue since the modern systems of higher education were set up in the last third of the 19th century. In broad outline, there are two conflicting views. According to the first of these, universities are firstly places of culture, whereas the second considers that courses in higher education should should provide the productive system with a flow of high-skilled workers that is in phase with the demand for labour. According to its usual meaning, professionalisation corresponds to the latter position.

In France, until the end of the 1960s, the task assigned to universities was in line with the former point of view, even if they did take care of the training of certain professionals. From the 1970s onwards, there began a continuous movement towards the professionalisation of university courses. This consisted of introducing vocational courses into universities, that is to say courses oriented towards employment in the private sector. Today, this movement is taking on a new form. Indeed, the objective pursued by the authorities is no longer that of simply developing vocational courses alongside the general courses of study. Rather, their aim is to professionalise the latter, according to the previously defined sense of the word. What is the reason for a change of perspective of this kind? The principal argument put forward by government is that holders of non-vocational degrees and diplomas in higher education – partly because such qualifications have become very widespread within the younger generations and also because jobs in the public sector are becoming rarer – are experiencing problems of integration into the world of work. Moreover, the adoption of the Lisbon Strategy by the European Union has contributed to accelerating this process. Indeed, the guidelines are very clear in this domain: students’ professional integration and their “employability” have become major issues. The European authorities stress the necessity of ensuring better balance between supply and demand for qualifications, placing the employability of graduates at the heart of the reforms.

The objective of this paper is to set out the issues involved in a change of this kind for universities, in view of the fact that the allocation of resources to the latter by the authorities will henceforth be based on indicators of graduates’ professional integration. This situation may prove untenable for higher education institutions. Indeed, the success of professionalised courses depends, amongst other factors, upon a number of conditions of study including selective intake, reduced student numbers and close relations with businesses. Yet, none of these conditions have been applied to general courses of study within universities. The latter cannot select their students and, due to their lack of connections with the business world and the weight of their student numbers, they are unable to offer professional work experience and training to each of their students. As a result – except in the case of a total overhaul of the higher education system, leaving universities with the possibility of choosing their students and allocating them with additional resources – it is difficult to see how it could be possible for general courses of university study to be professionalised, in the way understood by the authorities, while improving the professional integration of their students.
@InProceedings{LEROUX2011PRO,
author = {Leroux, J.Y.},
title = {THE PROFESSIONALISATION OF DEGREE COURSES: NEW ISSUES IN AN OLD DEBATE. THE CASE OF FRANCE},
series = {4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-3324-4},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {6841-6847}}
TY - CONF
AU - J.Y. Leroux
TI - THE PROFESSIONALISATION OF DEGREE COURSES: NEW ISSUES IN AN OLD DEBATE. THE CASE OF FRANCE
SN - 978-84-615-3324-4/2340-1095
PY - 2011
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2011
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2011 Proceedings
SP - 6841
EP - 6847
ER -
J.Y. Leroux (2011) THE PROFESSIONALISATION OF DEGREE COURSES: NEW ISSUES IN AN OLD DEBATE. THE CASE OF FRANCE, ICERI2011 Proceedings, pp. 6841-6847.
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