A clinic to help companies apply GDPR, an innovative teaching method at IMT-BS


At Institut Mines Télécom Business School (IMT-BS), the Post Master’s degree in “Data Protection Management” includes a learning experience in the form of a “teaching clinic”, giving students the opportunity to respond to real problems companies face in applying GDPR.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been in force since 2018, yet it still raises a number of questions for companies. “A lot of very small businesses and SMEs don’t have the human resources to comply with GDPR requirements,” explains research professor Xavier Strubel, founder and director of the Data Protection Management Post Master’s program at IMT-BS. That’s why this degree program has included a 36-hour course module in the form of a “clinic” since its outset: at the end of the program students apply what they have learned to respond to real problems faced by small companies.

“Companies send us their questions about implementing the regulation beforehand and they are distributed to groups of students,” explains the professor. Students then meet with company representatives during two-hour sessions to guide them through the steps they must take and respond to any other questions they may have. “Special attention is given to the service students provide, which must live up to what is expected of professional consultants: asking questions to fully understand the client’s needs, making sure they clearly explain each technical term or jargon, among other things.” At the same time, data protection officers (DPO) from major companies are regularly invited to present actual cases they have worked on.

This hands-on approach is popular with students: “They naturally see an opportunity to apply what they have learned during the Master’s program to real-life cases, but they also find it very rewarding to provide key insights for companies who do not have the human resources to take steps toward GDPR compliance,” concludes Xavier Strubel.

This is an educational innovation project submitted for the 2021 IMT Teaching Awards.

Illustrator: Lionel Tarchala