EDUCATION College De France remains a big draw for all those willing to learn

For hundreds of years now, the best professors and their research have been accessible to anyone willing to listen and learn in the College De France - situated in the Latin Quarter area of Paris and home to about 10 Nobel Laureates in the past few decades.

“This was established to teach students about what was not already there in the public domain, the sciences which were still being experimented and also to promote the humanities,” said Professor John Scheid , who holds the Chair in Religions, Institutions and Society in Ancient Rome.

He added that the total faculty is only about 50 and that whenever a position falls vacant; the remaining professors get together and vote.

“A few years ago, we were accused of becoming archaic, that only bored housewives and tourists would attend our lectures. So, we started posting our lectures on the radio and also started posting our schedules and lectures on the web and we almost always have our lecture halls full,” he said, adding that it was very rare for a professor not to have a packed audience.

A college without exam deadlines or student protest is the best deal a professor can get but no professor can really be a professor without some students, says Nobel Laureate Professor Serge Haroche, administrator of the College and holder of the Chair in Quantum Physics.

“I have about 14 students who will do their PhD’s but this college cannot award them the PhD, only a certificate from the professor saying the student has been mentored by a professor from the university.

Founded in 1530 by King Francis I of France, its motto is “Docet Omnia,” latin for “It teaches everything.”

A slice of the College will come calling to India, with two Collège de France professors scheduled to deliver conferences in the first quarter of 2014.

In fact, a cycle of Collège de France conferences in India is in the pipeline.

(The Journalist visited France at the invitation of the French Embassy in India and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)