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Foreign students up 4.5% in French tertiary institutions, according to Ministry of Education

Figures that the Ministry of Education released revealed that there were 343,000 foreign students in the French higher education system—signaling a growth of 4.5% since 2016

The number of foreign students in tertiary education in France has grown 18% since 2012 and almost doubled between 2000 and 2017, stated the ministry document.

Florent Bonaventure, Campus France’s director of communications stated: “We are thrilled to see that French universities continue to attract many students coming from abroad and we hope that the trend will continue to grow.” 

He attributed the factors behind the growth to be the higher quality of French higher education and its growing international reputation—and increased visibility in university rankings. The country has seen a rapid growth of English- taught programs and offers cost-effective alternatives to other destination countries.

Bonaventure explained that international students were treated the same as French or EU students, with the same fees, the same social security and the same insurance regulations.

 “France presents an alternative to the [Anglophone] model of higher education,” Bonaventure said.

“Education is of high quality, its research is known worldwide – see the Make our Planet Great Again program in natural science and climate change, for instance – and it is cheap for students as it is highly subsidised by the French state. France is also famous for its quality of life,” he added.

Ministry figures reported that about 50% of international students are from an African country, while 22% were from Europe (among which 18% from the EU), 21% from the Asia-Pacific and 9% from the Americas.

70% of international students are enrolled in Universities—which are by far the most popular institutions—and make up 14.6% of the student population. International students represent 11.6% of undergrad enrolments, 17% of master’s and 41% of doctorate level students.

Asian students are overrepresented at PhD level, where they make up the 29.8% of all international students, and 55.3% of international students at master’s level are from Africa. The most numerous nationality is Algeria, followed by Morocco and China.

Among European students, Italy is the most represented nationality, followed by Germany, Spain and Portugal.

In general, international students prefer literary disciplines (31.3%), followed by the sciences (29.1%) and economics (17.8%). Students from Africa show a slightly different trend, with most oriented towards the sciences (35.5%).

Bonaventure stated that Campus France is planning on welcoming more students coming from Francophone countries, especially in Africa—and non- Francophone countries like China, Vietnam, India, Brazil, African and the Middle East.

 “Universities have developed many English taught programs tailored for them and students have the opportunity to learn French while in France,” he stated.

-GBO Correspondent

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