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My question is about the necessity of the qualification for teacher-researcher/enseignant-chercheur (maître de conférence- abbreviated as MCF below) positions in France and its recent abolition in 2020. I'm unable to conclude if a PhD who doesn't already have a relevant position of teacher-researcher, can apply for the same in France without the qualification? (N.B. please note that the qualification is a process or at least used to be a process, which every applicant has/had to go through, it's a technical term, not a generic English word in my post.)

I did some research and asked people already in the French academia, and from there, I'm getting two seemingly contradictory information:

Information 1: from December 2020, one is no longer required to have qualification to apply for the MCF (= enseignant-chercheur) positions, see link1, link2,

Information 2: On the other hand though, when I wrote to the people of Galaxie, they replied:

"Pour information, si vous n’êtes pas maître de conférences titulaire (ou assimilé) vous devez disposer d’une qualification délivrée par le CNU en cours de validité. La loi de programmation pour la recherche supprime l’inscription par le CNU sur une liste de qualification aux fonctions de professeur des universités pour tous les candidats qui ont la qualité de maître de conférences titulaire (ou assimilé) et non pas pour ceux qui souhaitent devenir maître de conférence."

The above essentially says that the qualification step is no longer mandatory for the post of university professors only and not for MCF. As you see, the two above pieces of information seem contradictory/confusing, as I don't have the link to the exact law that was passed. Hence my question to the academic people in France - can a foreigner apply to the MCF positions now without having the qualification?

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Since there seems to be some uncertainty in the other answer / comment thread, I will offer my point of view. (I'm a MCF in a French university.) If you just want the answer, skip to the section that starts by It depends below.

You are misreading the information available. Qualification was removed for PR jobs. It remains mandatory in most cases to be a candidate for MCF jobs. The reply by Galaxie (which you should take as authoritative: Galaxie is managed by the HR department of the ministry of higher education and research, and they are the ones who are going to process your application) is pretty clear about that: if you are not already a titular MCF, then you need the qualification to be a candidate for MCF positions. This is also what is written in your links. I will provide translations in case you are not a French speaker:

(link1) Toujours est-il que la qualification aux fonctions de professeur des Universités est supprimée. => Nevertheless, the qualification for the assignment of professor was removed.

(link2) L’article 5 de la LPR supprime la qualification par le CNU pour les maîtres de conférences (MCF) qui veulent accéder au corps de professeur des universités (PR). => Article 5 of the LPR [Law of (budgetary) Programmation of Research] removes qualification by the CNU for MCFs who want to reach the ranks of professors.

And since nothing beats actually looking at the actual law, here it is on the French Republic's official legal website: https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/jorf/article_jo/JORFARTI000042738037

Article 5
Le code de l'éducation est ainsi modifié : 1° Au premier alinéa de l'article L. 952-6, après le mot : « particuliers », sont insérés les mots : «, et sauf lorsque le candidat est maître de conférences titulaire » ;

In short, persons who are already titular MCFs are not required to pass the qualification anymore. Moreover, if you read the rest of the article of law, some universities may ask to receive the permission to hire persons for any job (MCF or PR) without the qualification. But every university will have its own policy on this.

So to answer your question:

can a foreigner apply to the MCF positions now without having the qualification?

It depends:

  1. If you are already a titular MCF, then yes;
  2. If you are applying to a job in a university that has asked and has received the authorization to hire MCFs that have not received the qualification, then yes;
  3. In other cases, that would be a no.

The nationality of the applicant is in principle irrelevant. French nationals and foreigners alike are bound by the same laws for French academic jobs.

Note that to my knowledge, since the law is very recent, no university has yet asked for an exemption from the qualification procedure (since this is a hot topic, I would have heard about it, at least if it were for jobs in my field).

Given the possible discrepancies that will appear between the universities' policies regarding the exemption, your best bet is to get the qualification. Note that the procedure starts very early, in October of the year preceding job applications, so be proactive about it! Don't wait at the last minute, if you miss the deadline you have to wait a whole year.

Finally, note that the law about the exemption (case 2 above) is marked as experimental and the experiment will end in 2025. At that time, there will again be a vote on the law and it will either be maintained or rescinded.

Welcome to French academia, where the rules change all the time, no one's really sure of what's forbidden or allowed, and an error can easily cost you opportunities. Enjoy your stay :)

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  • Thank you for this detailed answer! Yes I see that in my case, I do need qualification to apply for the MCF positions. In this regard, I'd like to know how the processes are line to apply for CNRS or INRIA CR positions? Do they need qualifications too? Is there somewhere I could get the most updated detail? I'm not a part of any university/academia at this moment, so this is why getting this type of information is a bit tricky. Thanks again! – Science Man Apr 15 at 8:48
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    @scienceman There is no qualification for CR positions. The most up to date information can be found on the CNRS's website for CNRS positions: dgdr.cnrs.fr/drhchercheurs/concoursch/informer/default I don't know about Inria but I'm sure they have a similar platform. – N.I. Apr 15 at 10:22
  • But don't you have a single contact inside French academia that could give you at the very least basic info about these issues? Because if not, I would unfortunately be a little bit pessimistic about your chances, unless you have an exceptionally strong record... – N.I. Apr 15 at 10:28
  • Thanks - my situation is different for sure. I've done my PhD in pure math in the US, moved to computational neuroimaging where I worked on more applied stuff at INRIA (1 year), University of California at Los Angeles (one year), Ecole Polytechnique (15 months). I moved to industry afterwards, but this transition wasn't a successful one, leaving me somewhat isolated from academia. I do have 6 publications and 4 preprints and my current interest includes geometric machine learning/manifold learning. I'm in a bit of difficult position. If you're in a related area, can I contact you privately? – Science Man Apr 15 at 15:00
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    I'm not in a related field. Good luck for your search. – N.I. Apr 15 at 16:01
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I don't have a definitive answer because this is the first time I hear about this, but from following the links you provided, here is what I think is happening.

First some comments. "link2" further links to the actual text of the law, but I don't think you really want to read it. It is very, very long. Next, you early on in your question equate enseignant-chercheur with MCF, while it's MCF + professeur. From your prior questions here, I think you know this.

As to what is going on, both the first point discussed in "link2" and the reply you share under "Information 2" seem to make that clear. The suspension of the need to obtain the "qualification" dispensed by the CNU relates to those MCF desiring to become "professeur," but not researchers desiring to become MCF.

As to the actual process to apply as a foreigner for an MCF position (your essential question), I don't know. But the law you refer to does not appear to change that procedure from what it was before the law was passed.

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  • Thank you for your answer - appreciate it! But please see below. – Science Man Mar 25 at 13:02
  • Follow-up question: I see in the link1, "Toujours est-il que la qualification aux fonctions de professeur des Universités est supprimée. Les Universités pourront donc recruter, en tant que Professeurs, les Maîtres de conférences de leur souhait, sans que la carrière de ces derniers n’ait été expertisée par le CNU. Quant à la qualification aux fonctions de Maître de conférences, elle est, pour faire simple, également supprimée, sauf pour les sections 01 à 06 (qui comprennent notamment le droit), à titre expérimental et pour une durée de quatre ans. Là encore, – Science Man Mar 25 at 13:03
  • (contd.) les Universités pourront recruter, en tant que Maître de conférences, les docteurs de leur choix, sans que ces derniers aient été nécessairement qualifiés par l’instance nationale." But doesn't also mean that qualification is also abolished equally for the lecturers/asst. profs/MCF as well? – Science Man Mar 25 at 13:04
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    @Science Man : After reading half of link1, it struck me as an angry blog - a secondary (tertiary?) polemic source (I apologize if the author is a member here!). I’d stick to the very professional looking link2 (and your Galaxie source) as they agree and seem to say what I summarized. A blog can easily highlight as they see it serves their agenda and over-simplify to tell a lie without telling a lie. – gnometorule Mar 25 at 13:19
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    @Science Man: Im not that familiar with the French system as it is today. As a foreigner, I was at one of the Parisian Ecoles more than 20 years back, with friends from that time to today, but that’s mostly it. At the time, France was a total meritocracy: no matter where you’re from, if you pass whatever test applies, they will hire you as long as your French is ok (two Greek friends from my past were number 1 and 2 at X in their years, say). So I assume where you’re from doesn’t matter, except for maybe visa related issues (every foreigner I knew in the French system was EU). Fingers crossed. – gnometorule Mar 25 at 18:42

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