Partner support for Bulgarian transport education
A new scholarship scheme for Bulgarian students who wish to continue their engineering education in French universities was presented in the French Cultural Institute in Sofia on 8th February. This is a joint initiative of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alstom Group, the French national railway carrier SNCF, the Governor of Paris Metropolitan RATP and the universities INSA (Lyons) and Supélec.
Mr Yves Saint-Geours, French Ambassador to Bulgaria, opened the presentation ceremony and outlined both the prospects and the challenges to railway transport and railway infrastructure in particular in the context of the full membership of Bulgaria in the European Union. Our country can meet these challenges with the assistance of European funds, but this requires qualified experts in this field. Alstom Group was represented by Mr Toma Lischko, HR Director and manager of the scholarship programme. As immediate priorities of the company he pointed out the still greater increase of traffic speeds (for example the new TGV Est, which runs between Paris and Strasbourg at speeds of up to 320 km/h) and the broadening of the scope for interoperability between railway systems in Europe.
The scholarship programme was presented in detail by Mr Hubert Guicharrousse, attaché for University and scientific cooperation. It can be joined only by students, who have already acquired their B.Eng.Sc. degree. After two-years’ tuition in the French universities INSA and Supélec, they will acquire the French M.Eng.Sc. diploma. Practical courses are also envisaged in the three partner companies Alstom, SNCF and RATP. The allocated scholarship amounts to EUR12 thousand per person per year.
Mr Jean-Claude Ebel - Resident Twinning Adviser for the French and Bulgarian Ministries of Transport and member of the Directorate for “Programme and Project Coordination” within the Ministry of Transport, underlined the particular role of European funds for the development of the Bulgarian infrastructure and economy in general. It is envisaged that in the period 2007-2013 a total of EUR2 billion will be allocated by these funds. His words were supported by Mr Patrick Lukevich, representative of the French Ministry of Transport and permanent adviser under the Project for the safety and interoperability of railway transport, according to whom Bulgaria has the potential to become one of the major transit countries in Europe.