The most talented and deserving students must have access to higher education, regardless of their family, social and cultural background. That’s the goal of the Equal Opportunity programme (EOP), launched nearly 20 years ago to expand possibilities for young people who may otherwise miss out on higher education. The flagship programme in our diversity and equity policy is constantly adapted to widen its reach and support students better.
A pioneering policy
In the early 2000s, Sciences Po took note of the inadequate level of social and cultural inclusion among France’s selective higher education institutions. This social barrier stems from insufficient financial means, a lack of information, the social bias inherent in the nature of admission exams, and a considerable degree of self-censorship.
In 2001, Sciences Po launched the Equal Opportunity programme to diversify its student body. The programme offers a selective admissions path for students from priority education secondary schools. Today, this revolutionary scheme remains unique in terms of scale and effectiveness.
A selective recruitment process starting at high school
106 high schools throughout France, including the Overseas Territories, take part in the pre-selection of candidates.
Workshops in high schools to prepare for the Sciences Po entrance exam
Students compile a press review on a current affair of their choice, including an executive summary and a brief essay.
Visits to Sciences Po
Visits take place on our seven campuses from October to April. The Reims and Paris campuses also invite students to attend certain classes or lectures.
An eligibility test organised by high schools
An examination panel of three to five members, chaired by the school principal or his or her representative, conducts a test to pre-select the candidates who will take the entrance exam run by Sciences Po.
A specific entrance exam at Sciences Po
The admissions panel is made up of three people including at least one Sciences Po faculty member. The interview lasts 20 to 30 minutes and consists in a dialogue with individual candidates about their study and career plans. Representatives from the programme’s partner companies and donors serve on these panels. The interviews take place in December for New Caledonia, in April for Guadeloupe, Guyana and Martinique, and May or June for Metropolitan France.
Support for programmes at Sciences Po
Scholarships and tuition fee waivers
Scholarship students from the Equal Opportunity programme receive a supplementary grant amounting to 75% of the government scholarship. They also benefit from a full tuition fee waiver.
The Booster scheme
This introductory programme helps participants who would like extra academic support to get accustomed to Sciences Po’s courses and teaching methods. It consists in an intensive week of courses held on the Reims campus.
“Passport for English” module
Students can also take advantage of an intensive two-week language course based on an innovative mix of small group classes and an e-learning platform.
First year students who so wish are offered the support of a graduate student tutor.
Mentors are employees from our partner companies who work with students, offering advice and helping them grasp the subtle in and outs of the professional world, build their network and develop their self-esteem.
The many impacts of the Equal Opportunity Programme
Students admitted through the Equal Opportunity procedure have very similar employability outcomes to those of students recruited through other admission procedures. 81% are employed less than three months after graduation, in sectors ranging from banking and consulting to the public sector, the media, and many more.
A new dynamic at partner high schools
The benefits noted by partner high schools include a decrease in absenteeism, improved baccalauréat results and a significant rise in student ambition.
Diversification of the Sciences Po student body
Equal Opportunity students add to the wealth of the Sciences Po community, which includes 26% scholarship students.