An office of the University of Sherbrooke in France

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Martine Letarte
Special collaboration March 18, 2023 An office of the University of Sherbrooke in France

Photo: Getty Images Lyon was chosen because the UdeS has a concentration of partners in this city, but also in the entire Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

This text is part of the Francophonie special section

The University of Sherbrooke (UdeS) opened an office in Lyon, France, last September. It will serve to strengthen ties with French partners, but also with other countries in French-speaking Europe and North Africa. It is particularly the mobility of graduate students and research that are targeted.

COVID-19 has not dampened UdeS's appetite for foreign links, quite the contrary. “International interest came back strong as soon as the pandemic ended, and still, as long as it was possible, we continued to receive students from abroad and to send them following robust risk mitigation processes and contingency plans,” says Pascale Lafrance, Director General and Associate Vice-Rector for International Relations at the Université de Sherbrooke.

While the institution already has several partners on the other side of the Atlantic, it now wishes to ensure a presence there in order to strengthen collaborations and stimulate student mobility on both sides. “We already have several agreements signed and the goal is to bring them to life and add an institutional layer to the relationships that often develop first between people,” explains Pascale Lafrance.

For example, it sometimes happens that a university in France has many research links with the UdeS, but that there is very little student mobility between the two establishments. “By being there, it will be easy to network and move around when it's time for French students to choose an institution to do an internship abroad, or a joint doctorate”, explains Pascale Lafrance .

Lyon was chosen because the UdeS has a concentration of partners in this city, but also in the whole of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. “It's also a way of distinguishing ourselves from other Quebec universities, which tend to choose Paris,” adds Pascale Lafrance. In addition, it is a strategic place since it allows us to quickly reach other countries in French-speaking Europe and North Africa, places where we also want to strengthen our partnerships later. »

Projects in preparation

It was to Carine Huillier that the UdeS entrusted the challenge of representing her on French soil. Born in Lyon, she spent the last 10 years of her life in Quebec before returning to France this summer. “I have already met several partners with whom we have been working for several years and they are very happy to see that someone from the UdeS is now on site, because this will facilitate communications and meetings,” explains the project manager of the Office of the University of Sherbrooke in France.

It will carry out an annual plan of the activities to be carried out, but already, projects are in the air. “In particular, we want to create an event that will promote scientific projects carried out by UdeS and French partners and, subsequently, French-speaking Europe, illustrates Carine Huillier. We really want to bring together the different faculties in this project so that they put forward the successes resulting from the collaboration. »

There is also talk of organizing delegations from Quebec to France and French delegations to Quebec. “We want to boost student mobility with our partners; it is at the heart of our approach, says Pascale Lafrance. And it has to be two-way. Moreover, this greater mobility will also be interesting for our students in Sherbrooke who do not have the chance to go abroad since they will be able to be in more contact with students from a variety of countries.

“The primary goal of a university is to train students, citizens of the world, so international links are essential,” adds Carine Huillier. In research, it's the same thing: we go further if we pool different complementary expertise. »

In the years to come, the UdeS could also hire people to create a team around Carine Huillier, in Lyon. “There are a lot of territories to cover, specifies Pascale Lafrance, so she will need reinforcements.

This special content was produced by the Devoir Special Publications team, reporting to Marketing. The editorial staff of Devoir did not take part.