"Priority Education Conventions" (CEP) Program at Sciences Po

Research Team:

Agnès van ZANTEN (OSC and LIEPP)

Project funded by the LIEPP since September 2015

Description of the project:

This research focuses on the evaluation of the "Priority Education Conventions" (CEP) program based on an analysis of the backgrounds and experiences of students admitted to Sciences Po through this procedure. It aims to explore four key questions. The first concerns the discrepancies between the teaching content, the pedagogical practices and the evaluation methods implemented in the CEP upper secondary schools and the academic requirements and practices utilized at Sciences Po and the effects these differences have on the students' pathways and academic experiences. The second relates to the effects of the peer group outside and inside the institution on the academic achievement and educational choices of these students. The third one concerns the impact of student follow-up mechanisms, whether face-to-face tutorials or the online help offered by Sciences Po. Finally, one last question concerns the gender dimension of the pathways and experiences and whether or not there is a specificity of students admitted under the CEP procedure. The research, which is mainly ethnographic (interviews with different types of actors and students, observations), will also include an analysis of statistical data on students' academic background.

At the conceptual level, the project aims to contribute to the development of an approach to the evaluation of education, higher education and equal opportunities policies, with emphasis on:

  • The implementation of the programs within institutions, and in particular the way in which specific mechanisms are integrated into the ordinary institutional operation, and the way various institutional actors interpret these mechanisms and their supporting role.
  • The perspectives of the participants and their notions evolve following their temporal transition in the program and are differentiated according to the more or less satisfactory character of their backgrounds and their experiences.

In addition, at the political and pedagogical level the project aims to make recommendations, enabling institutional officials to increase the effectiveness of this policy and to reduce its shortcomings or its perverse effects.

Poster of the project - May 2020

Publications : 

Agnès van ZANTEN, L'ouverture sociale bénéficie à tous les élèves, in Patrick Rayou (Ed.), L'origine sociale des élèves. Mythes et réalités, Paris : Retz, 2019, p.61-72. 

German FERNANDEZ-VAVRIK, Filippo PIRONE, Agnès van ZANTEN, Discrimination positive, méritocratie et inclusion en tension : les "Conventions éducation prioritaire" de Sciences Po, Raisons éducatives, Vol.22, n°1, 2018, p.19-47. 

Agnès van ZANTEN, Widening participation in France and its effects on the field of elite higher education and on educational policy, in S.Parker, K.Gulson, T. Gale (Eds.), Policy and Inequality in Education, Singapour : Springer, 2017, p.73-89. 

Agnès van ZANTEN, French elite higher education: Facing the challenges of widening participation and globalisation, in C.Corsi, A. Magnier (Dir.), Quaderni Cesare Alfieri, n° spécial "L'Università alla specchio. Questioni et prospettivi", 2016, p.115-136. 


Congrès International de l'AREF, CO n°258, Les obstacles à l'ouverture sociale de l'enseignment supérieur: le cas des étudiants entrés par la voie Convention Education Prioritaire à Sciences Po du 3 au 5 juillet 2019 à Bordeaux, France. 

BERA Annual Conference, Academic Barriers to widening participation in French elites. Disadvantaged students' responses and adaptations to the curricular expectations of history courses at Sciences Po du 11 au 13 septembre 2018 à l'Université de Northumbria à Newcastle, Angleterre.  

In the Media :

L’école comme fabrique des inégalités, France Culture, 09/03/2017


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