Visits of clusters of higher education and research institutions

The panel of experts

The panel includes 7 to 12 experts depending on the size and complexity of the cluster being evaluated. These experts are appointed by the DECT, on the basis of proposals that may be submitted by the cluster’s management team. The panel is led by an expert with experience of the governance of institutions and sound knowledge of the French system of higher education and research, if a non-French person is approached.

Standard profiles are required in panels of experts, but their final balance can be adapted to the specifics of the missions of each cluster and the expectations expressed by the management teams regarding the evaluation.

These are the main types of profiles sought:

  • academic experts (preference is given to people who have occupied the post of vice-chancellor in their institution),
  • experts associated with the socio-economic and/or cultural sector,
  • an expert in quality policy,
  • an expert in international relations,
  • a student expert (preferably with local or national responsibilities),
  • administrative experts.

A gender balance is sought, as well as a functional balance between experts who have previously worked for Hcéres and first-time experts.

The composition of the panel of experts is approved by the lead institution of the cluster (avoidance of any conflicts of interest). The panel carries out a substantial amount of preparatory work prior to the visit by familiarising itself with a range of different documents provided by the cluster and by Hcéres.

Description of a typical visit

A project manager – the point of contact for Hcéres – accompanies the panel of experts for the entire evaluation and ensures compliance with Hcéres’ principles and methods.

The visit of the institution includes:

  • two meetings (at the beginning and end of the visit) with the President of the institution in charge of the cluster, who presents the strategy of his or her institution and the results of its self-evaluation (at the beginning of the visit) and answers several additional questions asked by the panel of experts (at the end of the visit);
  • individual interviews with a selection of key actors and stakeholders in the cluster, including members and partners of the cluster, local and metropolitan authorities, research bodies involved with the cluster, heads of departments, representatives of teaching and research staff, administrative and technical staff, students, etc.

The interviews are carried out in the presence of the entire panel or with sub-groups consisting of at least two experts.

Regular in camera sessions are held during the visit to enable panel members to share all the information gathered during the interviews and the associated analyses, and to produce the evaluative judgements that will form the backbone of the evaluation report.