who in office after the reshuffle?

MESRI. After five years as minister responsible for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Frédéric Vidal has to give way during this cabinet reshuffle.

While the cabinet reshuffle takes place this afternoon (information confirmed by the Elysée), Frédéric Vidal, in office since May 2017, is unlikely to be reappointed to the new government. Above all, the post of full minister in charge of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI) in itself could disappear again, as the president wants a tighter, less bloated organizational chart, as the reported Edition† For example, the Higher Education portfolio is sometimes entrusted to a State Secretary who falls under the Minister of National Education.

But given that he has authority over the Directorate-General for Higher Education and Vocational Integration, the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, the General Inspectorate of Libraries and the Cabinet, this ministry can be a valuable resource for the Minister of National Education who already has many responsibilities, such as Jean-Michel Blanquer and the crises that have marked his mandate. The proposals sent to presidential candidates and published by university presidents in January clearly illustrate this desire to maintain a full-fledged ministry. Does the Ministry of Higher Education have a chance of finding a place in this new cabinet? And who takes the lead?

For Frédéric Vidal, it is most likely the end of the ministerial experience. At least this is what the vast majority of political media say. And rightly so, she had very little visibility during this term, as evidenced by her total absence from opinion barometers and media chronicles. This is partly explained by the presence of Jean-Michel Blanquer in the position of Minister of National Education, on whom all eyes are focused.

And yet her track record is rather full, she who initiated the LPR Act, initially called the Vidal Act, which kick-started the 2018 ordinances and the ORE Act with Parcoursup. A completed report, of course, but not really approved by the main parties involved, testifies to this the opinion piece signed by 600 members of higher education and research staff published in Le Monde last February, the text of which is the request of the resignation of Frédéric Vidal. “We are protesting the humiliation of what should be described as a witch hunt,” they explained, in reference to the university’s research into “Islamic Left” and postcolonialism. Signed by economist Thomas Pikety and research engineer Richard Walter, the platform said in black and white: “We consider such a minister unworthy to represent us and we strongly demand her resignation”. Leaving her in the post might be a risky gamble.

While the fury of the universities has erupted in the intervening period (particularly with blockades and occupations of buildings), the Higher Education dossier is perhaps not the most attractive. And yet it will be necessary to find a successor for Frédéric Vidal, in case this ministry is indeed maintained. Rumors are circulating about the composition of the rest of the government organisation. One name in particular has emerged in recent weeks: that of Louis Vogel, the former president of the University of Paris-II Panthéon-Assas and of the Agency for the Mutualization of Universities and Institutions, who took over from the presidential majority for higher education, as Liberation explains. This ex-LR, also mayor of Melun since 2016, co-founded “Act, the constructive right”, a center-right party founded by Franck Riester, before moving even more downtown by joining Horizons, the party of Edouard Philippe, in 2021. He became regional councilor for Ile-de-France in June 2021. There is also his right arm, Maud Vinet, who collaborated with him on the advanced program on microelectronic technology at the Commission for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies. Other names pop up, mostly from universities, such as Sylvie Retailleau, the physicist and president of the University of Paris-Saclay, who was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 2013 and an Officer of the National Order of Merit in 2018, or the doctor of sciences José Manuel Tunon de Lara, currently president of the University of Bordeaux. Or, more likely, Thierry Coulhon, former Elysée Adviser (between 2017 and 2020 Adviser Education, Higher Education, Research and Innovation of Emmanuel Macron) and current President of the Supreme Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education. Finally, the post doesn’t stand out that much.

But you don’t have to be a college president to be interested in the job. As such, the youngest and government spokesperson Gabriel Attal was recently expected. It must be said that this ambitious young man has already faced the challenges of the environment, he who was a member of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Education of the National Assembly and who was the rapporteur for the bill related to the guidance and student success. More interestingly, he was appointed State Secretary to the Minister of National Education and Youth in the government of Philip II. Her competitor on the government team is the outgoing Minister of Transformation and Public Service Amelie de Montchalinwho had written a parliamentary report in 2018 on the evaluation of public research funding at universities.

Either way, this successor will have its work cut out for it. Between the research programming law passed by the previous administration and the ten-year spread criticized for the total lack of attention to inflation and the refinancing by a multi-year programming law requested by the universities, the program will be loaded. In fact, the main problem could be the psychological distress and insecurity of students, exacerbated by the health crisis.

If in some governments, and in particular that of François Hollande, this portfolio was entrusted to a State Secretary to the Minister of National Education, the post has gradually made its mark since the 1970s. It is currently the seventh largest in terms of budget, as evidenced by the special page of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. With its 25 billion euros, it even stands for “Solidarity and Health” at 15.9 billion, or even for Justice at 12.8 billion. However, one of the main goals that Emmanuel Macron is pursuing at the start of his second term is to “change the method”, as he reiterated during his campaign rallies. And this “renewal” should go through a change in the functioning of the government team.

However, Jean Castex’s government had 11 secretaries of state and a total of 42 members, a record since that of Juppé I in 1995. The functions were so numerous that the fields of action were very limited, some ministers went almost completely unnoticed, such as Annick Giradin responsible for the sea or Jacqueline Gourault in Territorial Cohesion and Relations with Local Authorities. Since Emmanuel Macron is seen as a man attached to institutional “simplification”, or at least to the “optimization” of positions, it is likely that this new government will be more limited and dense. To do this, “small” ministries could be incorporated into larger ones. And in the case of MESRI, there is little doubt, as Senator Pierre Ouzoulias explained to Liberation, who felt that the resumption of space policy by the Ministry of Finance in 2021 showed that innovation was no longer even exclusive to MESRI. .

The Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation mainly works on higher education, research, technology, aerospace, innovation, universities, sciences. It is charged with the preparation and implementation of public policy in the field of higher education, research and technology development. The main skills are: the space policy, the definition of the educational projects of higher education institutions, the allocation of resources and resources allocated by the State within the framework of the interdepartmental mission “Research and higher education”, the establishment and implementation of the investment program for the future, innovation policy, the preparation of government decisions regarding the establishment of research universities with international influence, the promotion of science and technology, the dissemination of scientific, technological and industrial culture and the development and diffusion of digital applications in society and the economy.

The minister himself has authority over three general directorates: that of higher education and professional integration (DGESIP); that of research and innovation (DGRI); that of school education (DGESCO). It may also appeal to other administrations such as “the General Board of the Media and Cultural Industries, the General Board of Businesses or the General Council of Economy, Industry, Energy and Technology,” explains the ministry’s official website.

These are the deputies or secretaries of state of the minister who preceded Frédérique Vidal:

  • Thierry Mandon (June 2015 – May 2017)
  • Geneviève Fioraso (April 2014 – March 2015)
  • Laurent Wauquiez (June 2011 – May 2012)
  • Valérie Pecresse (May 2007 – November 2010)
  • François Goulard (June 2005 – May 2007)
  • François Loos (May 2002 – June 2002)
  • Jean de Boishue (May 1995 – November 1995)

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