x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Paris-Sorbonne UAE offers course in English instead of French

From September, the Abu Dhabi campus will be offering a new degree in physics that's taught in English instead of French.

Prof Eric Fouache, the director of the Abu Dhabi campus of Paris-Sorbonne University, said offering a new degree in physics is a natural and important move for the university. Silvia Razgova / The National
Prof Eric Fouache, the director of the Abu Dhabi campus of Paris-Sorbonne University, said offering a new degree in physics is a natural and important move for the university. Silvia Razgova / The National

ABU DHABI // With roots dating back to the 13th century, the Paris-Sorbonne University has educated French politicians and philosophers for hundreds of years.

Its graduates have gone on to the Academie Francaise, the guardian of the French language, giving the university sound reason to consider itself the backbone of France's intellectual life.

So it may be surprising that its Abu Dhabi offshoot will soon begin teaching an undergraduate degree in English. But from September it will do just that with its new degree in physics, the first science degree to be offered at the campus.

Prof Eric Fouache, the director of the Abu Dhabi campus, said it was a natural and important move for the six-year-old Abu Dhabi campus.

"It means we will better fit the job needs," Prof Fouache said.

"We chose physics first, before maths or even biology, because of the increased emphasis on areas such as aeronautics and other related industries in Abu Dhabi."

Although students will study physics in English, they will also have to study French as their secondary language, keeping them rooted to the French way of thinking, culture and language.

Physics is already taught in English at the home campus in Paris.

"We are realistic," said Prof Fou-ache. "In the field of science there isn't the market for French.

"As a second language though, the students must have French language. We are here to develop an ability in French."

On the university's Abu Dhabi website the president, Prof Barthelemy Jobert, says: "In Abu Dhabi, the professors and lecturers, coming from the Paris-Sorbonne University, will provide the very same cultural background as the one they dispense in Paris."

He adds that "just like in Paris, Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi offers you the best intellectual arrangement to access the highest cultural level".

Prof Fouache says students want to be ready to enter an international workplace, both in Paris and Abu Dhabi.

"In France, to teach in English is good for this, while not losing their French at the same time," he said.

"Here, we are trying to build an international way of studying while giving the students the maximum skills and ability to compete in the global job market."

The degree should also help to address the shortage of qualified science teachers.

Dr Fabien Chareix, head of academic affairs, said its heavy emphasis on maths meant graduates would be equipped to be science or maths teachers.

"We've visited schools already and there is a lot of interest there," said Dr Chareix. "We've had more requests than for any other programme we offer here."

mswan@thenational.ae