Over 125 years ago, a group of figures from Grenoble’s academic, political and industrial circles decided to create a centre for French teaching, the Committee for Patronage of Foreign Students (CPEE).
The centre was founded to welcome migrant families and professionals (from Italy, Portugal, etc.) who were settling and working in Grenoble. The discovery of hydroelectric power sparked rapid industrialisation in the area and workers were flowing in.
In 1896, the first student to enrol was a German. They were followed by many others, individuals who were unknown at the time but some of whom became internationally renowned figures.
A few examples include Richard von Weizsäcker, former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, or more recently, Masako Owada, Empress of Japan; and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier (Jackie Kennedy), First Lady of the United States from 20 January 1961 to 22 November1963.

But all the students, whether known or not, have contributed to the CUEF’s constant, regular development. The Patronage Committee and the University worked together to successfully establish its role welcoming students and teaching French as a Foreign Language (FLE).

On 1 January 2012, the CUEF became a joint department of Université Stendhal-Grenoble 3. It continued to train students of 100 different nationalities in French culture and language.
On 1 January 2016, when the three Grenoble universities merged, the CUEF became part of Université Grenoble Alpes.
Published on  June 21, 2022
Updated on June 23, 2022