FnAK celebrates 25 years of commitment for mobile researchers

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Improving the reception conditions for high-level foreign scientists coming to work in France, maintaining contact with them after their return to their country. 25 years ago, these were the missions that Prof. Guy Ourisson entrusted to the Alfred Kastler National Foundation that he had just created.

Legal monitoring and expertise, the EURAXESS network, the ALFRED directory, the observatory of scientific mobility and a continuous dialogue with decision-makers contribute to making one of its most cherished dreams come true.

Latest News from ALFRED

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In the framework of the Welcome Desk Paris 2018, FnAK contributed to the training of the multicultural and multilingual team: from 10 September to 23 November, the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris is simplifying the start of the academic year for students and researchers from around the world.
Throughout France, thanks to the EURAXESS Centres, the ALFRED® software simplifies the mobility of researchers: since mid-September, their number has exceeded the total recorded in 2017 (12514 doctoral and post-doctoral students).

Loi Orientation et Réussite des Etudiants

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Written by the FnAK-CiuP legal expert in charge of legal monitoring, a note on the student orientation and success law is available to the EURAXESS Local Service Centres and Contact Points on the discussion forum of this network. In addition to its main provisions relating to the organisation of access for secondary school pupils to universities and training courses of their choice, this law abolishes the specific scheme for students to cover their health costs, which is now assumed within the framework of « Protection Universelle Maladie » (PUMA).

Journées Nationales EURAXESS

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In Montpellier on June 25 and 26, where our colleagues from the French EURAXESS network hosted these days, we were able to visit the brand new Service Accueil International Etudiants/Chercheurs (SAIEC) in the very premises of the COMUE. This service further strengthens the close cooperation established between the Euraxess Service Centres and the ‘Service des Etrangers’ de la Préfecture de Montpellier. The SAIEC thus becomes the second example of such a rapprochement, after the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris with its Welcome Desk since September 2017, which now centralises the reception of foreign students and researchers at the start of the academic year, from September to November, on a multi-service reception platform.

Perhaps we owe such connections to a long-established dialogue with the Ministry of the Interior and the Prefectures? It should be recalled that France is at the origin of the scientific-research procedure, which has been particularly simplified and accelerated in favour of the international mobility of scientific talent from third countries (outside the EU). Proposed by FnAK in 1998 to the Ministry of Research, at the latter’s request, this procedure was naturally reinforced by the rise of the French EURAXESS network (about forty Service Centres and Contact Points) and their necessary cooperation with the ‘Service des Etrangers’ in the Prefecture. Transposed throughout Europe since 2005, thanks to the Researchers Directive, the procedure is now adopted by the European EURAXESS network.

What will be the next French EURAXESS Service Centre to follow in Paris and Montpellier?
Which European country will be able to draw inspiration from this new French initiative in favour of researchers in international mobility?

FnAK Annual Report 2017

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The continuous arrival of asylum seekers at the gates of Europe, Brexit, the countries dragged along in its wake and the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States make you doubt the existence of knowledge and research without borders. The crisis of confidence affecting the old continent calls into question the very principles of migration management. It represents an unprecedented challenge for our administrations, our governments or for a common approach of the European Union.
We are therefore still a long way from being done with the incessant revision of regulations relating to mobility – whether or not it is professional – or with the accumulation of related European and national legal texts. Thus the expertise of FnAK and the Euraxess network, relating to academic mobility, will still be in demand, as was the case in 2017 with the reception of Syrian, Turkish or Afghan refugees with the PAUSE programme.
Faced with these new challenges, which are being declined for FnAK at regional and national levels (Far East and metropolitan France), the development of the ALFRED®[1] system is a real encouragement. First because the increase in listings in our directory remains significant (+18.7% in 2017), then because of the projected development of the following platforms :

  • Host convention, with the integration into the software of the regulatory process that allows institutions to invite and then host researchers from third countries. All those involved in the process of welcoming these researchers will benefit from this new process, from the research teams to the Prefectures, via the Euraxess Centres, university services and organisations;
  • One-stop shop, on which universities will be able to support their own reception platforms at the start of the academic year, during which they welcome more than half of their public in international mobility. This is an exclusive development for the Grand-Est region, which FnAK will adapt to the constraints of each university;
  • Scientific career, in cooperation with the Bernard Gregory Association, whose field of expertise is this, as well as with the most advanced research organizations in this field. The development of this platform will aim to put the latter in touch with researchers in mobility to recruit the best talent.

In the long term, the national deployment of these new platforms integrated into ALFRED®, complementary to the housing platform on which several Euraxess Centres already rely, should guarantee a complete range of services to support researchers on their way to France.
For these various developments, FnAK will first have to take up the challenge of adapting ALFRED® to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDR), wanted by the European Union to increase the protection of persons concerned by the processing of their personal data. We really see this regulatory obligation as an opportunity, since it will enable us to match our working tools to our professional ethics, in accordance with the defence of the human person so dear to Alfred Kastler.

Our 2017 Annual Report can be downloaded here. Find there the mobility observatory, with the figures of the European Union, those of the Ministry of the Interior, those of Euraxess and access&ss FnAK, and the usual headings.

[1] ALumni and Foreign REsearchers Directory

FnAK 2017 Observatory

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With Brexit and Trump’s election, the game really changed. The 2008 financial crisis had already transformed working conditions, weakened the academic world and made recruitment precarious; now, the contribution of scientists to society is being called into question. People feel that science and politics have left them behind. Faced with this new shock, European organisations in science, research, education and innovation had to reaffirm the need for an open exchange of ideas and people [1],[2].

But facing the unexpected, the counter-intuitive and the irrational post-Brexit wake calls for another answer. Researchers, who had already learned how to sell themselves, put forward their adaptability, their ability to work as a team or their ability to enhance their network, are today confronted with the obsolescence of top-down governance. In this new world, where what we know is who we know, the challenge for scientists is to ensure a greater bottom-up contribution to inform future science and social policy.
New science policy concepts (RRI, open-science, etc.) have recently emerged, opening up new paths towards more socially relevant research and innovation. Preconditions include the adoption of principles of integrity, openness, responsibility and multidisciplinarity in scientific work. The social sciences and humanities also have a key role to play.
But this new social contract can only be achieved by creating a strong community that supports it. Will the desired emergence of a Homo scientificus europaeus invigorate the voice of scientists in Europe?

The European Union has certainly not waited to formalise its own model for the transmission of scientific knowledge in its policies, and to define its scientific advisory mechanism (SAM)[3]. But it is too early to judge, until we have determined where and how to contribute.
In the great upheaval in the international landscape, the countries that had taken the lead in accompanying the scientific career – Germany and the United Kingdom – are at an advantage, even if uncertainty now prevails across the Channel since Brexit and the uncertain prospects linked to the circulation of ideas and people.

A German survey of 4900 doctoral and post-doctoral students – men and women, with and without children – on whether young researchers stay in research after starting a family, identified career and family aspirations among the researchers interviewed. The survey revealed that they do not wish to put their family goals on hold because of their careers. The reverse is also true: young women researchers – and exceptionally post-doctoral women – who have already started a family want to stay in university to follow their professional ambitions and balance the demands of work and family life. With a family-friendly policy, universities play a decisive role. In France too?

[1] Déclaration de Bruxelles :

[2] Marche pour les sciences :

[3] Conference for Science Journalists 2017 :

The profile of Accompanied Researchers in 2017

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Data from Eurostat and the Ministry of the Interior on the issue of residence permits in the EU and France are detailed in the Annex of our annual report 2017 (pp. 20 to 30). In 2016, after a constant progression during 5 years, France almost returned to its position of 2014, with 3316 residence permits issued (-11.9% compared to 2015), perhaps a price paid for a terrorist threat still very high in France. However, some countries continue to make progress, such as the Netherlands, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Poland. It should be noted that some other European countries use other procedures to receive researchers from third countries, notably the United Kingdom and Germany, which prevents an informed analysis of scientific mobility towards Europe.

With 12514 researchers of 145 nationalities accompanied in 2016, the national data of access FnAK and Euraxess progress by 18.7% compared to 2016 (10176). The adoption of the ALFRED® system by the universities of Bordeaux and Angers is certainly not unrelated. This trend could well be confirmed next year, with the next developments announced: hosting convention platforms, one-stop shop at the start of the academic year.

With regard to the scientific audiences supported by the Euraxess Centres, the proportion of doctoral students is still slightly increasing, reaching 55.6% (55.1% in 2016). The other 3 audiences are: researchers’ spouses (+5.8%), university staff (+2.9%) and, in Ile-de-France only, students (-4.6%).

As regards the breakdown by continent, the trend observed over the past eight years is confirmed for each continent except Asia, which is returning to its 2014 rank (29.0%; -2.6% compared to 2017). The increase in the mobility of African researchers is very significant (34.5%; +10.1%), as is the decline in those from Europe (19.6%; -6.1%). Analysis by continental sectors confirms the clear increase in North, West and Central Africa (respectively +3.8% and +3.0% for the last two), while the decline in mobility from EU countries is very marked (-6.9%). The decline in Chinese scientific mobility (-3.9%) is sufficient to explain the decline in mobility in Asia. China nevertheless remains in the lead of the countries for researchers already holding the rank of doctor, but loses its place for doctoral students and finds itself in 8th place.

As for the share of women in scientific mobility, it is better than stabilising and is returning to its 2014 level, with at least 1.0% better than last year for both post-doctoral (34.0%) and doctoral (42.3%) women. In the same period, the classification by scientific and technological fields confirms the growing share taken by the natural sciences (+0.8%), medical and health (+0.7%) and social sciences (+0.7%), again to the detriment of engineering sciences (-2.0%).

In 2017, the family situation of researchers on the move shows a clear increase in those in couples with children (+8.3%), offset by the decline in researchers who came alone to France (-8.5%).

While the proportions by age group and length of stay do not show any particular change, the language of communication reveals an advantage that is increasing for the English language (+3.9%), although relativised by that of the unreported data (-1.8%).

Three new series of data finally shed new light on researchers moving to France:
– More than half of them arrive within 4 months, between the last weeks of August and November (51.8%);
– Almost half of them are hosted by a university (47.1%): nearly 90% if research organisations and engineering schools are included;
– More than half are salaried (56.0%) ; more than a quarter of them by foreign employers.

Finally, it should be recalled with regard to these data (regional distribution in particular) that our figures correspond to the voluntary registration of researchers on mobility in the ALFRED® database. Consequently, our data reflect more the increase in the use of ALFRED® at university level than the scientific attractiveness of the French territories.

2017 Host institutions of mobile researchers

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Last year, the software was used to support more than 12,000 mobile researchers in all types of host institutions. Nearly half of them were hosted at a university; with research organisations and engineering schools, nearly 90% were hosted

20 548 Services provided by 69 Euraxess experts

2017 Financial ressources of mobile researchers

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Last year, the software made it possible to support more than 12,000 researchers in mobility, more than half of whom were salaried

20 548 Services provided by 69 Euraxess experts

2017 Flow of mobile researchers received

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Last year, the software supported more than 12,000 mobile researchers, more than half of them in 4 months, from September to December

20 548 Services provided by 69 Euraxess experts

2017 Countries of origin of scientific mobility

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Last year, the software was used to support more than 12,000 mobile researchers from 145 countries. Almost 90% of scientific mobility to France comes from 8 geo-political blocs among 18: North and West Africa, other Asian and West Asian countries, European Union and other Council of Europe countries

 20 548 Services provided by 69 Euraxess experts

Outcome ALFRED® 2017

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Last year, the software helped support nearly 20,000 people on the move, including more than 12,000 researchers

 28 722 Services provided by 69 Euraxess experts

  • 7 230 Housing Assistance
  • 17 235 Administrative Assistance
  • 612 Miscellaneous Assistance

4th Scientific Council of acc&ss FnAK

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At the Institut de France on 21 March, with the Ministries and local authorities concerned, this 4th meeting enabled progress to be made on the Conditions for recruiting researchers in mobility and on the conditions for accompanying their stay & career.

Rapport annuel FnAK 2016

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Our 2016 annual report can be downloaded here. Find here the mobility observatory, with figures from the European Union, the Ministry of the Interior, Euraxess and FnAK, and the usual sections.