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A slight of hand – Has Macron simply replaced one institution for another?

As of April 2021, the Ecole nationale d’administration (ENA) dubbed ‘the Strasbourg-based finishing school for top civil servants’  will close and instead be replaced by the new Institute of Public Service (IPS).

This change comes from President Emmanuel Macron, who attended ENA himself. Along with the two prime ministers he appointed. So, on the surface this seems like a step in the right direction, Macron himself as heralded the closure of the school and the establishment of the new IPS as signally a ‘deep revolution in recruitment for public service.’

However, whilst the closure of the ENA and the opening of the new IPS has the potential to remedy some of the issues surrounding this institution, namely its elitism. It became a focal point of anger during the Gilets Jaunes protests because of this. Some have merely dubbed this change as a slight of hand because Marcon has merely replaced one elite institution with another. It has led many in France calling for the focus to move away from these elite institutions towards universities as these ‘are the real engines of social mobility.’  This slight of hand raises broader questions about what educational institutions across the globe should be doing to help increase diversity and participation in top institutional roles.

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