The university degree, place of “ordinary miracles” to adapt to a heterogeneous public

In recent decades, the university license, which in principle takes three years after obtaining the baccalaureate, has shown exceptional adaptability, at the end of two waves of school democratization, in the 1960s and then in mid-1980s. The university, this place of “Ordinary miracles”, according to sociologists Romuald Bodin and Sophie Orange, allows 20% of technological baccalaureate holders and 7% of vocational baccalaureate holders to graduate with a license after three, four or five years, against more than 50% for general baccalaureate holders.

But the dropout rate is very high: 85% of vocational baccalaureate holders and 72% of technological baccalaureate holders are no longer enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in the third year, against 34% of general baccalauréat holders, according to a report from the general inspectorate for education, sport and research, published in April.

In this new school year, in addition to a new demographic peak, the first year of the license cycle must deal with the arrival of baccalaureate holders from the new bac – obtained by 94% of students -, whose profiles and skills will vary depending on their choice of specialties in high school. The result is an even greater heterogeneity, about which some of the teacher-researchers are concerned.

“Benevolent” rating

“In license, we no longer expect the same thing as fifteen years ago, recognizes Benoît Prévost, director of the branch of the University Montpellier-III in Béziers (Hérault). For example, knowing how to do a dissertation at the end of the first year. ”

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It is also the result of a modification by the teachers of their evaluation methods, continues the lecturer in economics, because “They are faced with such an overload of work that correcting a MCQ takes them less time than correcting an essay and devoting time to support for the mastery of this exercise”. In his view, all first-year students should be offered a refresher course in small groups, in French and in mathematics, an expensive operation which requires the recruitment of tenured teachers responsible for these missions.

For the Conference of University Presidents (CPU), there is no need to be alarmed, however. In a comparative survey of the success rates for the exams of the first semesters of 2020 and 2021, it indicates that participation in the exams was maintained (90% and more) in the first year of the license and IUT, the success rates reaching between 50% and 60%, as usual. Only five out of fourteen institutions were below the median, between 30% and 60% of success, less than in 2020 in these universities.

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