Undergraduate Admissions for applicants from the French secondary schools: the Equal Opportunity Programme (CEP)
At the start of the 2000s, Sciences Po decided to take action against the lack of social and cultural inclusion in the recruitment processes for the most competitive institutions of higher education in France. With the aim of diversifying its own student body, in 2001 Sciences Po launched its Equal Opportunity Programme (CEP), a selective admissions pathway targeting students from some of the most disadvantaged schools in France. Today, the programme works with 106 schools across France and French overseas territories, who help prepare, support and shortlist candidates for Sciences Po.
A major aspect of Sciences Po’s commitment to widening social diversity, the Equal Opportunity Programme is currently undergoing an ambitious redesign. After 20 years of existence and with more than 2,000 secondary school students accepted, this trailblazing policy is being extended and centralised. It will now be fully integrated in Sciences Po’s unified admissions procedure, the conditions of which, in many ways, it helped to inspire: from the consideration of candidates’ personal backgrounds to the image response activity of the interview.
Candidates from CEP schools apply through the Parcoursup platform and pass the same evaluations as all other candidates studying for the French Baccalaureate, but are admitted through a specific admissions pathway. The application phase allows for their specific academic background and training as part of the Equal Opportunity Programme to be taken into account.
You are eligible to apply through the CEP admissions procedure if:
- You have been a student at one of the participating secondary schools (PDF) since the Seconde year of the lycée.
- You participated in the workshop organised by your school.
- Your school confirms your eligibility to apply through the CEP admissions pathway.
What does the "CEP-specific admissions pathway" involve?
Applications from CEP students will be monitored and examined separately from those of other candidates. These candidates will have their own admissions jury, their own admissions list and their own waiting list.
If you do not meet all of the criteria laid out above, we will not be able to examine your application within the specific CEP admissions pathway.
New teaching focuses and a redesigned model for CEP workshops
All new CEP candidates will benefit from a redesigned support programme, delivered face-to-face and remotely. The overarching aim will be to harness the educational experience of participating teachers to equip their secondary school students with the cross-cutting skills they need to succeed in higher education of any kind. More specifically, the programme will encourage and support students to apply to Sciences Po.
The redesigned workshops will be open to all students enrolled at the participating secondary schools, whether scholarship-holders or not, and will take place over an extended period of time. Workshops may begin in the Première year of the lycée and continue through to Terminale, without excluding any students in Seconde who are interested in finding out more about the programme. While there will be variation in the needs of participating students, as well as in the methods for responding to these, it is crucial that certain overarching focuses are covered in the workshops. These will aim to raise aspirations and encourage students to consider applying to competitive higher education courses.
The workshops will cover three key cross-cutting skillsets:
- Communication skills: ability to express oneself in writing and speaking, reading, English
- Methodological skills: critical analysis and synthesis, investigation and inquiry, documentary research
- Social skills: ability to listen, autonomy, perseverance, thoughtfulness, teamwork.
Each participating school will establish its own support programme around a series of educational activities allowing students to work on each of these skillsets. It is recommended that teachers ask their students to keep a logbook of their activities throughout the workshops. This book will serve as a basis for evaluating students’ progress.
Workshops will be interdisciplinary (in line with secondary education reforms in France) and will give students the option of sitting a final assessment (written, oral, group work, etc. in French or English). This will give students a goal to work towards and motivate them to continue developing the expected skills.
As an extension of face-to-face teaching, an online collaborative teaching platform will be offered to students and teachers at participating schools, via Zoom and the social network Whaller. These platforms are currently being used by Sciences Po to:
- Facilitate and increase interaction between Sciences Po staff and secondary schools; to initiate collaboration between participating secondary schools, as a way of exchanging teaching initiatives and sharing best practices.
- Foster discussion between the secondary school students themselves, who can share articles, videos and podcasts on key themes.
- Break down confidence barriers and motivate secondary school students to reach out to student mentors at Sciences Po, who can provide methodological support and guidance under the supervision of workshop teachers.
- Offer students enhanced educational support for higher education, by means of tailored resources designed specifically by teachers at the schools and at Sciences Po. To involve Sciences Po professors in the programme run in schools, through conferences and meetings around specific issues.
School seletion criteria, established in collaboration with the French Education authorities
In an effort to widen the social and regional diversity of the undergraduate recruitment process, Sciences Po is doubling the number of secondary schools participating in its Equal Opportunity Programme. The terms of programme will now be developed in close collaboration with the French educational authorities.
To help us achieve this goal, in February 2020, we launched a development initiative aimed at identifying the key objectives and challenges of expanding our map of CEP schools.
Since September 2020, this initiative has worked in dialogue with local education boards to:
- Draw up a joint call for applications from secondary schools
- Define the selection criteria for secondary schools participating in the CEP programme
- Detail the measures to implement and the conditions for monitoring and evaluating current and future CEP programmes
- Establish a timeline for the gradual expansion and development of the programme
The aim is for agreements with new participating schools to be signed in the first quarter of 2021, with a view to beginning workshops in their redesigned format for students in Première at the start of the 2021/2022 academic year. These students would then be able to apply to Sciences Po in the spring of 2023.