Making the most of studying in France
calendar_month 01 Mar 2011, 00:00
Renowned for its art and culture, France is one of the world's top tourist venues. It's also one of the world's leading destinations for foreign students: more than 245,000 international students choose France every year.

France is a first-class centre for scientific and technological innovation. It owes this standing to its research capacity and its many achievements in such fields as aerospace, transportation, electronics, telecommunications, chemistry, biotechnology and health, successes confirmed by the number of French winners of the Nobel Prize and the Fields Medal. In such public institutions as national universities, the State pays a very large part of each student's study expenses (about 10,000 Euros per year), keeping admission fees among the lowest in the world.What's more, no distinction is made in France between French and foreign students: the entrance requirements and admission fees are the same, and the degrees are identical.
The traditionally high quality of French degrees is rooted in a network of internationally renowned research centres and institutions of higher education, of which there are more than 3,000, including 87 universities, 240 engineering schools, and 230 business schools, plus 2,000 other establishments devoted to such fields as art, fashion, design, architecture, paramedical training and so on. French higher education is based on a common architecture (LMD) ' recognized at the European level ' that counts the number of years of validated study following the baccalaureat (French secondary school matriculation examination). The table below outlines the structure of the French system. As long as he or she meets the entrance requirements, any foreign student in an institution of higher education in his or her home country may request admission to a comparable French institution.
France's 87 public universities are spread throughout the country, from the Sorbonne in Paris (founded in 1179) to the high-tech campus of Nice-Sophia-Antipolis, and cover the entire range of academic disciplines: Sciences, including Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, and Biology to Technology, covering Computer Science, Engineering, Materials Science, and Electrical Engineering, through Literature, Languages, the Arts, the Social Sciences, Law, Economics, Management, Health, Sports, and more. Every level is represented in the awarding of national diplomas, including the Licence, Master's degree and Doctorat (PhD). Research activities are an integral part of the universities: 315 doctoral schools train 4,000 doctoral candidates in connection with more than 1,200 research laboratories (affiliated with both the universities and research organizations). French doctoral schools have always been very open to international students. The university system also stays in step with today's world, offering technological specializations and professional degrees, including:

- University engineering diplomas

- Professional qualification training via the Instituts Universitaires de Technologie (IUT) (a 2-year studies programme after the baccalaureat), offering more than 25 specialties

- Acomplete professional curriculum

- Management training through the Instituts d'Administration des Entreprises (IAE)

- Political Science and Economics Degrees through the Instituts d''tudes Politiques (IEP)

- Journalism and Communications, with the Institut Fran'ais de Presse (IFP) and the 'cole des hautes 'tudes en sciences de l'information et de la communication (CELSA) or the Centre de formation des Journalistes (CCFJ)

Studies of Medicine, Pharmacology, and Dentistry are connected with the universities in partnership with university hospitals and have their own organization and courses of study.
The Grandes 'coles are uniquely French institutions. Created in the early 19th century in parallel to the university system, they are extremely selective and offer education at a very high standard. Students are recruited either just after the baccalaureat, or at various levels depending on their academic background. Once they get the Grande Ecole Diploma, they can pursue doctorate studies upon specific conditions. Grandes 'coles offer diplomas at the baccalaur'at + five years level, master's degrees. Graduates can follow up this degree with a specialization, including a specialized engineering degree or a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

There are also roughly 240 engineering schools, which share common characteristics; this guarantees the quality of the engineering degree, which is at masters level and covers all areas of engineering science and is considered to be a national degree. Furthermore, Grandes 'coles exist for Business and Management; the business schools (about 230 of them) offer specializations and training adapted to the changing economic environment and new management practices. Instruction is often structured around internships and international exchanges.
So called specialized schools offer higher-level training in specific areas such as Art, Design, Fashion, Tourism, Paramedical Services, Social Services, and so on. There are three types of art schools: the 'coles nationales sup'rieures d'art (Grandes 'coles for art), which offer a national diploma after four or five years of study; the schools for applied art, which are supervised by the Ministry of National Education; and the schools of fine art by the Ministry of Culture, offering diplomas after three or five years of study. All have selective admission policies. Additionally, there are 20 architecture schools, overseen by the Ministry of Culture, offering the DPLG (Dipl'm' Par Le Gouvernement) architectural diploma, the only qualification in the field recognized for those working as architects in France. Studies last for six years in three cycles of two years each.
Foreign students may qualify for three types of financial awards: granted either by the French government, or by the government of their home country, or by international and non-governmental organizations. Most of the scholarships financed by the French government are administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which makes approximately 22,000 grants each year. These grant programmes are of two types:

- Scholarships offered under bilateral assistance programmes between France and foreign governments. More than 80 percent of French government grants are of this type. Prospective applicants may obtain information from the office of culture and cooperation at the French embassy and consulates in their country.

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- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also provides grants within the framework of specific programmes run by its departments in Paris.

Students have to keep in mind that in national universities, the State pays a very large part of each student's study expenses (about 10,000 Euros per year), keeping admission fees among the lowest in the world.
The day-to-day activities of EduFrance agency, created by the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, consist of promoting all French higher education programmes throughout the world, in addition to making them more appealing to international students:

- by enhancing information and counselling services, in addition to simplifying the admission procedures for international students to postgraduate courses;

- by offering assistance to French higher education institutions, particularly Associate Members, so that they are able to establish an attractive and relevant choice of programmes in line with the expectations and demands of international students.

EduFrance has 75 local offices in 45 countries to help students in their procedure to come to France. For information about the network refer to our website

By analyzing demand and through regular dialogue with French institutions, EduFrance has designed and developed a comprehensive catalogue of study programmes which correspond to the needs and requirements of international students, according to their home country, language and subject area.


Within the framework of the interministerial programme 'Enhancing the Appeal of France', EduFrance has designed and published a catalogue of programmes taught in English to encourage English-speaking students to choose the French higher education system. Experience has shown that these students, although unable to speak French upon arrival, learn to do so over the course of their studies. The French language skills of high-level newcomers to France are therefore improved.


EduFrance is the first in France to have developed online counselling and application programmes with individual welcome services and pre-sessional language and study skills programmes.


Designed for students already having a Bachelors in their own country, it brings together 60 Grandes Ecoles and engineering training programmes and delivers, after two years, the national engineering diploma (masters degree). N+i covers virtually all engineering fields. For more information, visit The advantages of this shared network are numerous:

- a single online registration and a sole application deadline

- a shared selection of students with collective access to the student's file and common selection committee meetings

- a shared semester of training in language and study methods for all students enrolled
Promotes the teaching of French Law, from masters level upwards. Edudroit's purpose is to promote study and training in Law throughout France on an international scale, to simplify the counselling, application and admission procedures of foreign students and to centralize a selection of institutions around a single online application website. Through the network, more than 20 French universities are able to improve international awareness of their Schools of Law, promote training programmes suitable for an international audience, receive standardized applications via the web and select students according to profile. For more information, click here

For more information: click here, Agence EduFrance, 173 Boulevard Saint Germain, 75006 Paris. Tel: 00 33 1 53 63 35 00