By Fabrice Bardèche, Executive Vice-President of IONIS Education Group, and Marc Drillech, Managing Director of IONIS Education Group
Over thirty years after the group was founded, the desire to move forwards and to strive for excellence is more strongly felt now than ever, as is the desire to provide the students and families who trust us in what can be difficult contexts with some of the best possible solutions to meet their needs.
The future will require us to navigate some increasingly complex fields, deal with changing trends and feelings, and consider new technologies and new methods. But our goal is clear: first and foremost, to remain a global group that encourages interdisciplinarity between the realms of commerce, engineering, technology, art and creation. It is also, of course, vital that we maintain our desire to innovate, because only change can give us hope for the future and only the drive to stay ahead can steer our institutions towards success. Ultimately, we are more determined now than ever to provide multiple solutions to position ourselves as a partner at all stages in life, when the need for training is at its greatest.
Whilst some are still fearful of this new knowledge society that is establishing itself, we do not consider these changes to represent the loss of an asset or a source of competitive advantage. Those who maintain that things were better in the past are ultimately those with the most to lose. After all, teaching is, by definition, comprised of both constants and innovation, and the higher education sector has all too often suffered from its ability to innovate. Whilst we have indeed reclaimed existing systems, it is because we believe in certain constants and that we believed them to be relevant although somewhat inappropriate. Moving forward, we will be more determined than ever, whilst also remaining attentive to the new generations, from whom we have much to learn.
Mobility initiatives are taking place both on our doorstep and on the other side of the world, with technology now enabling managers and employees to play a more central role in their family lives. This 360° perspective of the world reflects the need to strengthen ties with both the family fabric and the local community. The switch from attachment to horizon is a natural and continuous one; itinerancy, however, is a different challenge. Higher education must be able to adapt to this new reality of mobility through proximity, by increasing the number of educational centres available to enable young people to stay close to their families for longer and thus reduce the costs associated with moving home, and the international aspect by systematically providing a distant destination for all students over the course of their studies. Itinerancy using all of the tools that put training and education at the click of a button, regardless of the means.
Whilst education is available anytime, anywhere, one thing that has become clear is that it also transcends the generations; indeed, only lifelong learning will enable the individual to maintain their maximum potential in terms of employability and to ensure that they adapt their skills accordingly. We must take the necessary steps to ensure that our courses are accessible to all audiences - the young and the not-so-young, regardless of their age or status, reflecting an intergenerational openness and a civic duty as something that will truly serve to enrich the training we provide and represent a major avenue for us to explore in the future.
With the same concern for breaking down barriers and a keen awareness of the consequences of our mission, we maintain that our role does not end on graduation day. The same moral contract that binds us to our students when their families entrust us with their futures puts us under obligation to continue to ensure that they maintain their levels of expertise. Simply striving to achieve excellence in education is not enough; we have to ensure that we maintain it too. This concern with maintaining a strong link with our students once they have left the school in question demonstrates the vital complementarity that exists between what we do and what our alumni associations - which we need to make more dynamic - do.
We have developed our schools as places that strive to achieve excellence in the skills we consider vital for tomorrow's society. In doing so, we have also created open, welcoming places, living spaces, places where the winds of culture and reflection blow. We do not believe that cutting-edge skill should find itself in opposition with intelligent culture. We firmly believe that reflection and a critical approach are all the more crucial to those with technological power since the latter will come to dominate our lives and contribute to making the most strategic of decisions within both our companies and our societies. It is with this in mind that we are launching an increasing number of initiatives aimed at continuously developing the diversity of skills, interdisciplinarity of approaches and exchange, and critical perspective.
Having a sound command of the tools available is meaningless unless it is backed up by the ability to truly consider them and to incorporate them into every aspect of society. We do not consider our students as merely acquirers of knowledge or skills but rather want them to really think about their responsibilities, their position in the world and the consequences of the decisions they may be required to make or to share in since these critical, responsible, normal individuals who we train are the leading figures of the future.