Aiming for excellence

UPPA, a University of Excellence

40 The University of Pau and the Pays de l’Adour aims for excellence
40 The University of Pau and the Pays de l’Adour aims for excellence

Ranked among the top ten French universities for its success rate in Bachelor’s and DUT degrees, the Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour stands out for the quality of its training, its demanding recruitment of teachers, the excellence of its research laboratories and a strong taste for innovation.

Opened in 1970, the small University of Pau and the Pays de l’Adour (UPPA) possesses all the features of a large university. Ranked by the Ministry of Education as one of the top universities that best support their undergraduate and graduate students, and renowned for the quality of its programs and partnerships, UPPA now has a reputation that extends well beyond the southwest of France.

 Obtaining the prestigious national label ‘‘Science, Innovation, Territories, Economy Initiatives” (I-SITE) in 2017, awarded for its “Energy and Environment Solutions” project as part of the “Investments for the Future” program of the French government, has enabled it to reach a new milestone. Only eight universities benefit from this national program designed to support institutions of excellence and high potential. “We owe this exceptional recognition to the excellence of our training and research work, especially in the field of energy and environmental transition, but also to our strong local ties with local authorities, research organizations and our industrial partners,” says UPPA then President Mohamed Amara. In practice, this label provides additional resources to help the University strengthen its assets.

The University of Pau and the Pays de l’Adour aims for excellence

Described by its students as a multidisciplinary university on a human scale, warm and welcoming, UPPA intends to remain true to its identity. The commitment of all the staff is a determining factor in this respect. And there is no shortage of talent, whatever the discipline: law, economics, management, literature, languages, humanities, sport, or science and technology. Gilles Pijaudier-Cabot, a professor at the Laboratory of Complex Fluids and Reservoirs, was awarded a prize by the Academy of Sciences for his research work in the Earth sciences. He is one of the many scientists who contribute to the prestige of UPPA. The recruitment in 2017 of Isabelle Chort, a professor at the Center for Theoretical Analysis and Economic Data Processing, a 2019 laureate of the Institut Universitaire de France, also illustrates the University’s choice to surround itself with the finest scholars. The recent opening of around 30 high-level expertise chairs has also enabled UPPA to recruit, in France and abroad, researchers renowned for their expertise and the boldness of their projects.

The 13,460 students enrolled in Pau, Bayonne, Anglet, Mont-de-Marsan, and Tarbes are the first beneficiaries of the UPPA’s rise to excellence, which is reflected, among other things, in the improvement of teaching, the construction of new courses and better follow-up of students. Ten years ago, UPPA was the first French university to implement a quality approach for its courses. Launched in 2017, the Talents’ Academy now reflects UPPA’s desire to further encourage the performance of its students. This unprecedented contest aims to support the most promising Bachelor 3, Master 1 and Master 2 students, by granting them an annual allowance to almost fully cover their living expenses at UPPA. Coralie Leugé, 20 years old, in a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology in Pau, was accepted in the Talents’ Academy last September. “Considering my modest resources, it is a precious help that allows me to finance my daily life and to fully dedicate myself to my studies, she says. The Talents’ Academy encourages us to do more!”

A taste for innovation

The UPPA also benefits from state-of-the-art equipment, such as an experimental river in Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle, a very high-speed technology hall in Mont-de-Marsan, a mass spectrometry center and a latest-generation imaging center in Pau, as well as an instrument that is unique in the world for studying the behavior of petroleum fluids at high pressure. This equipment is grouped together in an experimental service center called UPPA Tech, open to laboratories and companies, bringing together some twenty specialized platforms. These facilities are certainly conducive to innovation. Christophe Pécheyran, a research engineer at IPREM (CNRS/UPPA), has, for example, invented a tool to fight against wine counterfeiting by analyzing the packaging (glass, paper, ink and capsules). Her colleague at IPREM, Corinne Parat, is working on the development of a portable device that can detect in situ, in real time and at a lower cost, the presence of pesticides in water. Called Phytocaptor, this revolutionary sensor could soon be commercialized. The “made in UPPA” is definitely promised to a bright future.

Key figures

  • 13,460 students
  • 885 teacher-researchers
  • 5 campuses: Pau, Anglet/St-Pée-sur-Nivelle, Bayonne, Tarbes, Mont-de-Marsan

UPPA figures


For the class of 2015,

  • 94% of the graduates of Licence pro
  • 90% of Master’s graduates
  • 95% of Engineering graduates
  • 85% of PhD graduates

have a job.