The insolent success of Moroccan students at French Grandes Ecoles

In finance as in the Grandes Ecoles, Moroccan students shine with a thousand lights and “make fun of the French” so to speak. With the most appropriate initial training in mathematics, at the end of their careers they make up a large proportion of financial engineers and are in great demand in France, where they are desperately needed.

Indeed, said this research director of a large French bank to the newspaper Marianne “They are very well trained in high schools and selective Moroccan preparatory schools. When we compare with Algeria, it has nothing to do. Morocco has a very dynamic engineering training policy. As well as Tunisia, to a lesser extent. Their results are amazing. » Few of them, underlines François, then return to their country of origin… “ Moroccan students make fun of French students » even believes Gilles Pagès, the head of master 2 “Probability and finance » from the Pierre-et-Marie-Curie University and Polytechnique, the kings diplomas to become « ​​Quant » (quantitative analyst). Many of his troops are now Tunisian and especially Moroccan. ” It’s massive! »

This success is explained, according to him, by the fact that the mathematics programs of the preparatory classes of Moroccan high schools, based on French school programs and very demanding, have not changed for fifteen years.

“Unlike France, it is rare that in Morocco we are taken away from chapters in mathematics. In the end, we end up with overloaded math and physics programs in high school, and those that come after studying in France do indeed look like war machines » testifies a young Moroccan engineer just out of the academic shell, who, in another life and in his high school in Casablanca, already collected medals at the international mathematics Olympiads.

The high school of excellence (Lydex), in Benguerir, is less often cited than the scientific preparatory classes of Henri-IV, Louis-le-Grand, Stanislas or Sainte-Geneviève for succeeding in integrating the best schools of French engineers: Polytechnique, Centrale, Télécom, Ecole des Ponts ParisTech and Ecole des Mines, which flood the trading rooms of French banks with their students. This high school of excellence, which opened in 2015 in the city of Mohammed VI, the result of a public-private partnership (OCP Group), nevertheless manages to admit nearly twenty young people to Polytechnique every year! 24 of his students passed the entrance exam to the École Polytechnique de Paris. Among them, six girls. In 2021, 11 students from the establishment had joined this high place of French knowledge, reports the newspaper Le Figaro.

Founded in 2009 by the Moroccan phosphate giant OCP, Lydex has made it its mission to train the best Moroccan students in fields related to engineering. It is located in the green city Mohammed VI, in Ben Guérir, “ city ​​of knowledge and innovation “. But not only ! The Kingdom has about twenty establishments offering 19 scientific preparatory classes, there is even a Central School in Casablanca where EIGSI La Rochelle has opened a campus.

Moroccan students in France – around 40,000 each year – are overrepresented in engineering schools compared to other foreign students, according to Campus France. They favor scientific studies and shun literature, the humanities and other political sciences with far less remunerative and more uncertain outlets than those of engineering.

Only 13% of Moroccan students enroll in these courses compared to 30% for other foreigners. Moroccans were the first community to come to study in France, with 44,933 students in 2020-2021. The École Polytechnique welcomed 160 Moroccan students during this exercise, 110 of whom followed the engineering cycle. To cite only this School, the Moroccan association of former students of the establishment has more than 300 members, and in particular former ministers M’hamed Douiri (the first Moroccan polytechnician), Mohamed Kabbaj or Mohamed Hassad and Driss Benhima, two ministers and former CEO of Royal Air Maroc. The school systems of the two countries are close, with many preparatory classes scattered throughout the Kingdom, around twenty, as said before. The level in mathematics is high.

These Moroccans who honor their homeland are, in part, children of the Moroccan elite but not only, points out an engineer who rubs shoulders with them in his bank. Access to this well-paid job also means the hope of a phenomenal social rise for middle-class North Africans… They then have no desire to return to their countries, in their eyes too conservative and not dynamic enough economically”. The majority of Moroccan students intend to have a first experience in France or abroad before returning to Morocco.

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