“In L1 we have a public of students who have gaps that go back to middle and high school”: how universities try to limit the damage to the license

A 75.8% success rate for a STAPS license at the University of Pau versus 53.8% at Lyon 1? 52.3% in Paris Saclay in economic license – AES but 69.1% in Paris 1? For the same discipline, students do not succeed in the same way depending on whether they are enrolled in one university or another. The establishments have perfectly understood the issue and a large majority have implemented, at least, tutorials.

“In L1 we had them in the 1st and 2nd semester. Two hours a week during which we could be in a room with L3 students who explained to us how to do our microeconomics DMs. » Jasmine is in L2 of environmental management and finance at CY University, an establishment whose success rate for licensing in 3 or 4 years is quite low, but whose progression in one year is the strongest with + 15.7 points. “Having this help has been very beneficial for us! », Adds she who, after obtaining the license, aspires to pursue a master’s degree in finance.

“Tutoring has allowed us to better support struggling students,” explains Bruno Fiorio, associate vice president of undergraduate studies at CY University. The problem is that, on a voluntary basis, it does not affect the majority of students who drop out, “especially those who have an additional job and who do not necessarily have time for tutoring. »

“Sometimes it is difficult to catch up with several years of school”

To remedy this, some universities are adding other strings to their bow. With 82.2% success, the Law and Sciences-po department of Lyon 2 has the best success rate of all French universities. A result that is explained by the tutoring offered, but not only that. “At L1, we have an audience of students who sometimes have gaps that go back to middle and high school and it is a challenge to allow all first-year students to be successful,” recalls Adrien Bascoulergue, dean of the law school: “It is sometimes difficult to catch up with several years of school, but we try not to abandon studies in the first semester. »

In addition to tutoring in which a teacher specifically manages the selection and training of tutors, Lyon 2 has launched methodological classes and educational systems that allow students to carry out legal exercises online “to complete the classic training offer.” This game is complemented by other types of resources, including a series of videos.

“Mechanisms have emerged in all universities in France, we could not make a list because there are so many,” says Virginie Laval, president of the University of Poitiers and member of the board of directors of France Universités, responsible for presiding over the Council. of Training, Student Life and Professional Integration of France Universités.

Succeeding is not a simple matter of programs, support systems, or earning a diploma in 3 or 4 years. “Success requires a rich and varied student experience: being in good health, playing sports, being interested in cultural life and participating in the community,” Virginie Laval focuses again. “You need a space to feel good and be more successful. Issues of housing, catering and even lifestyle are also included, although it is not the universities that choose and the actors are also plural. »

Success criteria that some universities, such as Lyon, integrate into their thinking. “We would like to try to create online course materials for students with work exemptions, because they can’t take all the courses, especially when they are working. Their success rate is particularly low. These are not only online courses, but also exams and review sheets, for example. »

A system that Lyon 2 wants to extend to those who are enrolled in the traditional system but who alternate between studies and a parallel job. “They need to work and that can take priority over their studies. These are jobs they are forced to take because the cost of living is rising! »

Establishments on a human scale

Another success factor: the social and geographical origin of the students. “When you have a more complicated school curriculum or come from a less advantaged background, it is still easier to enter a university with a small number of students. We see that these students have more difficulties integrating into higher education, because they do not have a loved one who has studied at such a high level,” continues the dean of the Faculty of Law of Lyon 2, a small university with 1,000 students, far of the 5,500 students at Paris Cité, for example.

“In addition, we obtain good results because the student monitoring is of high quality,” illustrates Adrien Bascoulergue: “We limit dropouts by offering a pleasant study environment that is not too difficult for students: our classrooms are small, with capacity for 250 students at most. , although it is great, it is not the same as being 400 in terms of experience. We offer a more comfortable environment for students that helps them succeed. »

A small size proposed by other universities such as the University of Artois, the University of Lille or even that of Angers, but whose results do not seem as high as those of Lyon 2. Because in addition to the size of the establishments, the campuses and their location It also plays a role in student motivation and success.

“The first year I was at the Saint Martin site,” Jasmine summarizes: “There are few people, so there is always space in the library. We went there immediately after school and adopted this automatism. This year, on the Chêne campus, the library is even bigger, we have a Wi-Fi connection, we can order many things and they are even organizing tutorials for first-year law students. »

The young woman, who “lives on line H” and is 95 years old, was taken to the Sorbonne, Assas and the Paris Cité, but “she deliberately chose Cergy because the travel time is not insignificant and between 30 and 45 minutes of travel compared to 1h30, The choice was made quickly. »A very good high school student, «eager to have an ambitious career», Jasmine does not regret for a second having chosen the university in which she enrolled. « Other students will visit the Sorbonne for their name, but they will arrive and there will be another student with many new notes or come to Cergy in a friendly family, the recent localities and well-accompanied ones, now and then. to have ! »

A long trip, transportation problems, difficulties finding accommodation far from home or family or even a small job to support yourself in study are obstacles to success in a career. If “the Parisian middle classes or the upper classes who will stay in a studio can have the best possible university in the discipline they are interested in, for everyone else, you have to ask yourself if there is a university near you, or a student room ”. available in Crous and what its material conditions are,” specifies Hugo Harari-Kermadec, professor-researcher at the University of Orleans and author of “The Shanghai Ranking.” The commercialized university.

Why is law really taught better in Paris than in Clermont-Ferrand? I hope not ! “The one who teaches is the one who faces 30 or 40 high-level candidates,” responds Hugo Harari-Kermadec: “You have to do higher education and it is better to do it in a framework in which you are successful, instead of feeling failed if you didn’t have the most selective thing in the world. »

Bad orientation

Or the university with the highest success rate, because it is also a consequence of a risky orientation in the first year. “I had looked at the success rates at Parcoursup and they were low, but Cergy is not really selective in entry, so everyone can come. But in the ecological management sector there are many people who don’t know what they want to do. », Jazmín laughs.

Thus, 40% of AES students abandon the discipline after the first year, 38.5% in Letters, Arts, Language Sciences, 30% in STAPS. “Some people choose the wrong sector, such as in ecological management, when they rely on high school lessons and the license contains a lot of mathematics,” underlines Bruno Fiorio, from CY University. “Or in law with the gap between the course in which they enroll and what they imagine they will find there… It creates disappointments among students…”

In Cergy, to try to limit the phenomenon, an undergraduate university school was created in 2020. “Landing at university is a specific challenge that we do not find in the master’s degrees, we needed to equip ourselves with different piloting skills from the second cycles. We must make our students succeed and guide them well, even at the initial level, but that does not end at the time of high school! » Learning, professional courses, innovative pedagogies… The university works to offer bridges to students who may be suspended at the end of the first year of their degree. “We are sorry for Cergy: it is a university that wants to improve! », adds Jazmín.

And even if these reorientations reduce the success rates of certain courses, this is sometimes the heart of the problem. “Student success begins at universities long before their arrival, at least three years before. Orientation is a question, you have to desire it, not suffer it,” agrees Virginie Laval, who adds: “At Poitiers we position the high school student as an essential actor in their orientation. Establishments have strengthened support, created bridges, personalized paths for students and at the same time responded to the demands caused by the massification of higher education. »

The route effect

Some students also choose to enroll in a course while hoping to improve the following year. “We can no longer register as we want in the sector of our choice,” emphasizes Hugo Harari-Kermadec. Because even if 93.5% of candidates receive an application on Parcoursup, some do not satisfy students who may have to change universities in the second year or sector. Which mechanically lowers the success rate of a license in 3 or 4 years.

“In large cities where there are several universities, Parcoursup plays an important role, because candidates apply to all universities. It is different in Marseille or Lille, where there is no local competition and therefore no prioritization. The effect is even greater in Paris, where good students who went to Créteil or Nanterre because they couldn’t return to Paris were able to have Paris 1, 2 and left Nanterre or Versailles Saint-Quentin. The good inhabitants of the middle-class suburbs came to Parisian universities and segregation was reinforced in the big cities. »

An observation that Bruno Fiorio also shares, although some students like Jasmine are exceptions: “Some arrive by chance or by default when they have not gotten what they wanted elsewhere. It is more complex then in terms of motivation. Sociology and the Parisian context make it increasingly competitive and some students prefer the large Parisian universities where the reputation is more marked. »Reduce the success rate of universities of as good quality as the others.

Leave a Comment