Bordeaux is fast becoming the French city on everybody’s lips and with good reason. Recently ranked in the world’s top 100 most innovative universities by Reuters, the University of Bordeaux is now an international centre of academic research that responds to some of society’s biggest challenges. Located in the world’s largest urban UNESCO World Heritage Site, it provides an unrivalled quality of life for students.
TEXT: KATE HARVEY | PHOTOS: UNIVERSITY OF BORDEAUX
The University of Bordeaux has excelled itself across multiple fields – also known as its Clusters of Excellence. These clusters, including five with national LabEx accreditation, unite teams from different research units in compelling fields such as archeology, environment and climate, public health and technologies, neuroscience, advanced materials, laser and photonics.
International joint laboratories
“Research across borders is strongly boosted thanks to the International Joint Laboratories scheme, which unites the University of Bordeaux with 22 research labs worldwide,” explains the director of the International Office, Véronique Debord-Lazaro. These include joint research into light matter in Canada, nanostructures, photonics and nuclear structures in Japan, vascular plasticity in Taiwan, particle physics in Korea, computer science in India, prehistoric Eurasian art in Russia, cognition and ageing in Mexico, clinical research into infectious diseases in West Africa, applied mathematics in China and immunology and microbiology in Germany – to name a few.
A stunning city
The port city of Bordeaux is widely recognised as France’s central winegrowing region, but is also a buzzing, international destination. Instantly recognisable for its beauty, its rich gastronomic culture provides students “with a quality of life that Parisians so yearn for”. The city is surrounded by Atlantic dunes and coastline, thick forest, medieval and Renaissance ruins – making it a beautiful place to live and learn.
With multiple campuses across the south-western region in Bordeaux, Dax and Bayonne, within minutes the buildings transform into undulating vineyards. Unsurprisingly, the university leads the way in viticulture and boasts its very own Institute of Vine and Wine Science.
Courses in English and French
The university offers a wide range of international Masters courses taught entirely in English, by visiting European and international professors as well as faculty staff. “Specialised training is proposed to the teachers here so they may maximise their teaching skills in English,” the director explains.
The university also works hard to facilitate French-language learning for their international students. “We encourage students to improve their French skills during their studies – so they can make the most of their time in France,” she tells us. French classes are offered free of charge to help exchange students integrate into the campus and the city of Bordeaux. As of next year, online classes will also be available to all international students prior to their arrival.
The University of Bordeaux redefines the concept of summer schools. Since 2012, they have organised summer schools that offer a range of high-quality, multidisciplinary international courses for postgraduate students and young researchers. Their sessions allow students to make the most of learning and living in Bordeaux during the glorious summer months in south-western France.
Reap the benefits of European membership
For more than 15 years, the university has been seizing opportunities from European programmes. “The likes of the Erasmus scheme, for example, offers us the chance to internationalise our courses while also enhancing their quality,” says the director. With hundreds of partner institutions across the world, the University of Bordeaux offers its French students numerous opportunities to follow their studies abroad in institutions across Europe.
This is facilitated by the rating system, known as the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) developed by the European Union. It allows students to transfer their grades between higher education institutions and move from one country to another, easily. “It makes studying at the University of Bordeaux very attractive for students from non-European countries, too. The number of EU-labelled courses and projects (over 130) we propose is also a strong selling point and gauge of quality for those coming from abroad,” explains the director.
Recently, with the launch of a ‘European Universities Initiative’, transnational alliances between higher education institutions have aimed to revolutionise the quality and competitiveness of education and research in Europe. “The University of Bordeaux is collaborating with eight partner universities across Europe to promote quality of life, sustainability and global engagement,” explains the director.
Unwavering student and financial support
The University of Bordeaux campuses provide the academic community with an ideal environment for both living and learning. Local services are available to students on each site, including a helpful buddying system for international students to get to know their new home city.
France is renowned for having one of the best systems of higher education in the world, and their public universities are funded by the national government. “The system is financially very accessible for students. Thanks to a fee-waiver system, students coming from outside the EU and the EEA may pay the same fees as a French student,” she explains.
For more information on the wide range of courses available at the University of Bordeaux, you can visit their website.