Josué Thelissaint, a Haïtian Eiffel Excellence Master's student

Josué Thelissaint from Haïti, is currently doing a Master's degree in Banking and Finance at Université de Rennes 1 after being awarded the Eiffel Excellence grant

Josué Thelissaint, Eiffel Excellence student from Haïti Illustration: Emma Burr

So Josué, how long have you been in Rennes?

Not long in fact! I arrived at the university in October.

How did you find out about Université de Rennes 1?

I discovered the university via internet. The university and the city of Rennes go beyond my expectations! I was warmly welcomed by staff and lecturers at the Faculty of Economics and I'm very happy with my courses. I'm also very impressed by the organisation of the urban space here in Rennes.

Could you tell me about your studies and what led you to apply for the Eiffel Excellence grant?

I began by studying statistics at the Centre de Techniques et de Planification et d'Economie Appliquée (C.T.P.E.A.) in Haïti. The school has three departments: planning, statistics and applied economics. I chose to specialise in statistics.

I initially wanted to study accounting but my maths and physics teacher recommended the C.T.P.E.A. as he saw that I was particularly at ease in Maths and thought the programme at the C.T.P.E.A. was more suited. It was a good choice!

I'm now starting my Master's degree in Banking and Finance at Université de Rennes 1 and I'd like to go on to do a second year, specialising in economic and financial engineering.

So, you have the Eiffel Excellence grant which covers your two-year Master's programme. Congratulations! How did you get to know about this grant?

It was thanks to Université de Rennes 1. Information about the grant is published on the website.
In 2015, I applied for the grant for 2016/17, but my application was turned down by Campus France. I was awarded the grant thanks to a successful candidate who backed out. The grant covers two years. I have to pass my first year in order to stay, but I'm very determined! (Smiling.)

Why did you decide to come to France?

Firstly, Haïti is a French speaking country so it's easier to study here. Secondly, as a student at C.T.P.E.A., you often look towards Europe, or France in particular. France is a reference for us in the field of statistics, economics and planning.

And why did you decide to do your Master's degree abroad?

There are several reasons. The first and main reason is that in Haïti, there is no specialised training for someone who has a bachelor's degree in economics or statistics which corresponds to the level of teaching at the C.T.P.E.A. The technology outside Haïti is better. Another reason is, of course, that an opportunity like this helps your career.

I could also add that, in Haïti at the moment, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, in collaboration with the Ministry Economy and Finance, is fighting for the formalisation of the economy which is almost solely made up of informal units. There are only a handful of businesses specialised in banking and finance which can help to deal with this issue.

So you can imagine returning to Haïti to contribute to the development of your country?

Yes, but even if I had the opportunity to stay in France, I could still participate in that development.

That brings me to the question of what you'd like to do after your Master's degree!

I imagine after my master's degree entering the working world and to choose my doctoral studies after gaining experience in the field. It may give me a better grasp of the theoretical concepts.

I'd like to stay in France if an opportunity arises. Otherwise I'll go back to work in Haïti. I shouldn't have a problem finding work. After graduating from the C.T.P.E.A., I found a job at the Ministry of Education and Training. So with a Master's in Banking and Finance from Université de Rennes 1, it will be a lot easier!

What are the main differences between life in Rennes and life in Haïti?

There isn't very much in common! Rennes is a very developed city where, as I mentioned, the urban space is very well organised and very clean.

When I first arrived, I was surprised by how much is computerised! We don't need to meet people to communicate with them almost. But there is a practical side. Look at banking for example.

The weather is very different. In Haïti, the climate is tropical. I find the rain and cold a little difficult!

The Haïtian population wants the country to develop but the question is how can they contribute to move forward? That's the problem. They want to, but how? In France, people are used to sorting their rubbish for example. That's not the case in Haïti. We have to learn to abandon certain habits. And change also requires finances.

Is the higher education system in France very different to Haïti?

Yes. In France, universities take professional integration into account. That's not yet the case in Haïti, where there are very few work placements for example. And although there are schools like the C.T.P.E.A., the quality is generally better here.

Do a lot of young people go abroad to study?

No, not really. A lot of young people go to Latin American countries but to work rather than study. You need the means to study. If I hadn't been awarded the Eiffel Excellence grant, I wouldn't have been able to come and study in France. Out of around 10 students from my year, I was the only student awarded a grant. But young people are extremely motivated! They want to train and are often on internet looking for opportunities and funding. There are maybe more opportunities in Latin American countries, in Chile in the field of statistics for example. So in Haïti, studies are not our priority as we don't have the necessary funding.

I've always been motivated! When we're motivated, you are patient and you are ready to wait for opportunities! (Laughing.)

So now you've settled into life in Rennes!

Yes. But you know, it takes some time to get used to the food here when you're from the Caribbean! (Laughing.)