Sciences Po Aix

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Group.png Sciences Po Aix  
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HeadquartersAix-en-Provence, France
Recruitment university for the deep state and secret services

Sciences Po Aix, also referred to as Institut d'Études Politiques (IEP) d'Aix-en-Provence, is a Grande École of political studies located in Aix-en-Provence, in the South of France. It is associated with Aix-Marseille University.

Recruited by the secret services

In 2019 a local paper reported[1][2]:

Every year, students from the IEP of Aix are discreetly recruited by the secret services. One master's degree in particular, which is increasingly popular, concentrates future intelligence agents and analysts. What is certain is that among the students of Sciences Po who figure in this public of insiders, a certain number will become "secret agents".

These "well-made and well-filled heads" are of particular interest to intelligence services, such as the DGSE (general directorate for external security), the DRM (military intelligence directorate), or even the DGSI, which sometimes approach them directly, depending on their profile. Each year, in Aix, they are thus half a dozen, at least, to join the intelligence services. Out of 1,700 students at Sciences Po Aix, that may seem like a niche, "but a niche that works very well", smiles Rostane Mehdi, head of "one of the most Arabist IEPs in France", which is moreover in a region particularly focused on the defense sector. A highly sought after master.

But among the courses offered by the school, there is one that concentrates the profiles most focused on intelligence. Originally, it was a Master of Military History, long directed by Jean-Charles Jauffret. But under the leadership of his successor, Walter Bruyère-Ostells, the degree has more clearly displayed its orientation: geostrategy, defense and international security. This history professor, specialist in mercenaries, receives more than 250 applications per year, for 52 student places. "Even if the recruitment needs are significant, it would be dishonest to further increase the number of places at constant means", warns the lecturer, who has become the "Mr. army" of the IEP.

But only 10% of students join an intelligence service at the end of the course. Including one per year, on average, which integrates, through a specific competition, the famous General Directorate of External Security, the DGSE, popularized since 2015 by the TV-series The Office of Legends.

"It's the service that makes you dream the most, but in the flows, for two or three years, more of them have joined the DGSI", observes Walter Bruyère-Ostells, who does not rule out parallel recruitments. Because intelligence professionals regularly intervene at school, "some are even integrated into the teaching teams", notes Rostane Mehdi.

"They explain what the job of analyst consists of, what a typical day looks like, discuss with the students and sometimes identify certain profiles, specifies the director of the master. But there are still parallel recruitments, which, by definition, escape me.However, most students follow more traditional careers, in consulting, in industry, think tanks, or even as parliamentary attachés, oriented more towards defense issues.

Others first go to military schools, including the Salon Air School, which is the subject of a long-standing partnership with the IEP of Aix. Seven to eight students join it each year, some of whom will later become intelligence officers.

"There are many called for very few elected", warns the director of the IEP, but this enthusiasm of the students is recent. Contrary to Anglo-Saxon countries, where the secret services have always recruited from the benches of the most prestigious universities, in France, intelligence has long been an outlet poorly considered by young graduates, and, which does not help nothing, very closed in on himself.

"The first students who joined the DGSI were surprised by the very 'police' nature of the people who worked there", notes Walter Bruyère-Ostells. The situation changed after 2008, following the Defense White Paper, which notably facilitated the recruitment of contract workers. A trend that accelerated from 2014, due to the terrorist context, with more civilians and more diversified and very specialized profiles. "There has always been a closeness between the IEP and intelligence," recalls the teacher...


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