The Ambassador of France to the Czech Republic, His Excellency Alexis Dutertre, visited the University of West Bohemia on Wednesday, May 31. Following a joint meeting attended by representatives from five parts of UWB, he proceeded to visit the RICE and NTC research centers.
Rector Miroslav Lávička and representatives from the University parts involved in cooperation with France warmly welcomed the French ambassador. The meeting was attended by the Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Miloš Železný; the Director of the NTC research center, Petr Kavalíř; as well as CNRS researcher Didier Sébilleau from the Institut de Physique de Rennes, who is currently visiting the NTC. Also present were Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Jan Michalík; Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Helena Horová; Head of the Department of Romance Languages at the Institute of Language Training, Pavla Kocourková; and Romana Suchá from the International Office. The French side was represented by J.E. Alexis Dutertre, as well as the Attaché for Science and Higher Education, Véronique Debord-Lazaro, and the Attaché for Media Analysis, Zuzana Zachová.
The French ambassador highly commended UWB's involvement in the new European alliance, EUPeace, of which the Université de Limoges is also a member. Rector Miroslav Lávička added that the European Commission's decision regarding its support for the alliance is expected in June.
Alexis Dutertre also expressed support for the development of double-degree programs. The Faculty of Arts at UWB currently offers two double-degree programs in collaboration with the Université d'Artois in Arras, and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering has a program with ESIEE Paris in Noisy-le-Grand. Rector Miroslav Lávička confirmed his enthusiasm for this cooperation, stating, "We welcome this collaboration, and we will be delighted to expand our portfolio of double-degree programs."
The discussion also revolved around student mobility. As Romana Suchá mentioned, the number of French students coming to UWB has been steadily increasing over the past five years, with the exception of the 2020/21 academic year due to the pandemic. In the current academic year 2022/23, a total of 80 French students came for exchange study stays at UWB, which is an increase of 43 compared to 2018/19. Ambassador Alexis Dutertre confirmed that Czech universities are attractive to French students. Moreover, he advocated for enhancing the mobility of Czech students to France, stating, "Many Czech students believe that they must know French in order to study in France. However, many study programs in France are taught in English. Language should not be an obstacle to study." Thus, he aims to promote studies at French universities among Czech students and encourage their interest in studying in France.
In the field of science and research, four parts of UWB are currently engaged in six research projects with French institutions. This collaboration was primarily discussed during the Ambassador's visit to the RICE and NTC research centers.
Zdeněk Peroutka, the Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, acquainted the delegation with the RICE research center. Due to time constraints, the delegation could only visit a selected number of laboratories focusing on energy, transport systems, material research, and diagnostics, including the Hall laboratory and the test room for high-voltage electronics and transport systems.
J.E. Alexis Dutertre also expressed interest in teaching and research related to nuclear energy, cooperation with industrial partners, and the potential for expanding collaboration between the two countries in this strategic field. He was informed about the formal establishment of the Alliance for Electrical Engineering and Informatics, which brings together all electrical engineering and IT faculties in the Czech Republic, with Dean Peroutka representing them in the negotiations. The Faculty of Electrical Engineering is also a co-investigator in the ENEN2plus European project on nuclear engineering education and practical connections, which involves several French institutions, including EDF and the Université de Lorraine. Dean Peroutka concluded the visit by stating, "We are prepared to deepen our existing cooperation with France and embrace new challenges, not only in the field of nuclear energy, which our society is currently facing. We appreciate the Embassy's support and proactive approach and eagerly anticipate continued collaboration."
At the NTC research center, Director Petr Kavalíř introduced the Ambassador to the research conducted by the advanced and quantum materials team, which has a longstanding and highly successful collaboration with French colleagues from CY Cergy Paris Université, the Institut de Physique de Rennes, and ATTO Lab.
This was followed by an informal meeting with colleagues at NTC who are either French citizens or have long-standing ties with France. Laurent Nicolai summarized the essence of the recently completed project on the computational and experimental design of advanced materials with new functionalities, implemented in cooperation with the University of Cergy-Pontoise and CNRS. Professor Didier Sébilleau and Postdoc Ridha Eddhib presented advancements in the field of machine learning and the use of AI in physics as part of the European EUSpecLab project, in which they are involved at NTC.
Another topic discussed at NTC with J.E. Alexis Dutertre was a project led by Vít Nováček, focusing on the design of a virtual human pelvis model, developed in collaboration with a consortium of seven partners from France. Lastly, they highlighted the successful cooperation between NTC and the University of Orléans in the field of scientific internships. Jiří Martan shared his experiences and the outcomes of these internships, which contribute to the development and strengthening of the scientific community at NTC.
"The entire visit of the Ambassador and his entourage was a great honor for us, and we firmly believe that our mutual cooperation with France will continue to flourish with the support of the Embassy, yielding innovative results in the field of scientific research," described Petr Kavalíř, Director of NTC, recounting the course of the visit.