USC Aiken Celebrates French Connection

July 14, 2017

As France celebrates Bastille Day, the University of South Carolina Aiken is gearing up for another year of partnering with a renowned international business school in Lille, approximately 140 miles north of Paris.

For more than 10 years, USC Aiken students have taken part of in an exchange program at the IESEG School of Management, one of the top business schools in France.  It is rated as the #6 business school in France.  IESEG’s Master of Science in management is ranked #17 in the world.

"This is a wonderful way for students to learn about the global world and global business," said Dr. David Harrison, USC Aiken’s School of Business Global Business chair.

"And it gives them an advantage when they go for interviews."

In the last decade, approximately 50 Pacers – 8 last year alone -- spent a semester at IESEG.  The courses are taught in English by international faculty.  About 85 percent of the IESEG permanent faculty are not French. 

In fact, some USC Aiken faculty have participated in educational exchanges; four professors are engaged in the classrooms there.  As visiting professors, they teach week-long intensive courses in the graduate programs.  Harrison currently teaches four one-week accounting courses a year to the international student body.

IESEG offers nine Master of Science programs.  These include:  international business; business analysis and consulting; investment banking and capital markets; big data analytics for business; digital marketing and CRM; finance; international business negotiation; fashion management; accounting, audit and control.

"While there, our undergrads take graduate-level courses," Harrison said. 

In addition to a world-class educational experience, the Pacers have access to more than 1,000 companies who visit the Lille and Paris campuses as IESEG corporate partners.  Events include career fairs, recruiting sessions and corporate talks. 

In addition, students have the opportunity to build an international professional network.  IESEG alumni represent almost 80 countries around the world.

When they return to Aiken, the students can continue their French cultural education by getting to know the French students on campus.  USC Aiken has had up to 24 French students on campus, many of whom are here as part of USC Aiken’s athletic programs. This year, the university expects to have seven more students from France join the Pacer team.

"They become very active on campus," Harrison said.

Some students are part of the NCAA Division II sports programs on campus.  Others, participate in myriad academic, social and civic organizations.  Last year, Augustin Gilart de Keranflec'h from IESEG was one of them.

He served as president of Globe, an international student association, and joined a fraternity.  In addition, he became active in the student government association – and won the 2017 Mr. USC Aiken pageant, which is part of the annual homecoming festivities. 

"Our international students provide valuable opportunities to domestic students to learn about different cultures and encourage intercultural communication on campus," said Andy Kabasele, director of USC Aiken’s Office of Global Studies and Multicultural Engagement International Programs.

While faculty and students from both sides of the Atlantic hope to expand the educational exchange, Harrison credits Kabasele with much of USC Aiken’s success in providing this global educational opportunity to French, other international students, and local students alike. 

"His support is a large reason for our growth and interest in the program. It doesn't hurt that Andy is French. When the French student's come here they love that he speaks in their tongue to them."

"He takes them under his wing and is very generous and kind in welcoming them. He has built the quality of our international programs with great enthusiasm and success," Harrison said.

The USC Aiken student body includes those from 32 different countries.  This diverse population provides a unique educational opportunity.

"Our international students are typically generous with their time and very happy to share their traditions, stories, experiences and perspectives with their fellow Pacers," said Dr. Sandra Jordan, chancellor.

"This interaction gives all Pacers a head start and sets them up for future success in the global workforce."

The longstanding French connection at USC Aiken is strong and is expected to continue to be an integral part of the university’s effort to ensure all students – regardless of their nationality – are prepared to be engaged members of the global community. 

"My son was an exchange student in France and saw firsthand the impact that experience had on his understanding of world events.  Among the learning goals of the university is to prepare students for their futures in the working world and to be knowledgeable global citizens who can be productive and thrive in highly diverse, international professional and community settings," Jordan said.

"That is one of the reasons we value diversity in all its forms. It is important for students to have the opportunity to learn and work closely with peers whose racial, cultural, economic, and linguistic backgrounds are different from their own. 

"At USC Aiken, our students should emerge from college ready to work in diverse teams and able to interact productively with others," she added.

USC Aiken, a comprehensive university in the University of South Carolina system, offers undergraduate and master’s degrees to more than 3,500 students in 50 programs of study. USC Aiken is ranked the #1 public regional college in the South by U.S. News & World Report’s guide "America’s Best Colleges." The 2017 distinction marks USC Aiken’s 19th consecutive ranking among the top three in this category and its 12th time in first place.