International Perspective: France as a Study Destination

With 278,000 international students opting for higher education in France annually, this nation is the fourth most popular academic destination the world after US, the UK and Australia, according to Campus France.   Of the 2.2 million students in the French higher educational institutions, 80% attend the public universities in France.  The 83 public universities enrol 80% of the post-secondary students out of which 10% of the enrolments comprise international students.

Why Study in France

The vast number of foreign students enrolled in undergraduate, post graduate and doctoral studies in France point to the benefits of this nation’s higher educational system. French educational institutions have been ranked highly by the Shanghai Classification of Universities, the Financial Times and Times Higher as well as European Report on Science and Technologies released by the European Commission. 

France as a Popular Study Destination

France is preferred as an academic destination for students from all over the world. This nation has a vast array of cultural and commercial centres which offer perfect opportunities for students. International students can also opt for internships and good jobs following completion of higher education courses in France.

Advantages of France for International Students

International students should opt for French universities, IUTs and grandes ecoles because of the high quality of education offered here. France has the best courses in varied fields such as management, technical education, scientific disciplines and humanities. French higher educational institutions are monitored carefully by several authorities and organizations. There are several programs such as Erasmus Mundus and the Campus France n 1 program which has great value for students from global settings.

Quick Facts

France's economy is the fifth largest in the world. It accounts for 5% of global GDP and 6% of world trade. It is the fourth most popular destination in the world for higher education.

France is committed to its policy of equal treatment for domestic and global students. This nation spends about 1.2% of its GDP on higher education amounting to about €20 billion annually. Financing for higher education is basically public (87%).

France's expenditure on higher education represents an investment of nearly €10,800 per student, regardless of whether they are domestic or international students.

With 278,000 international students  (12% of the country's total postsecondary enrolment) per year, France educates nearly  25,000 doctoral candidates per year, according to Campus France.

France has 83 public universities, 224 engineering schools, 291 doctoral departments and 220 business schools. It also has 1200 research laboratories.

1 out of every 3 doctoral degrees in French educational institutions is awarded to a student from outside France.

Growth of International Students in France

The following table summarizes the growth of international students in the years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, according to the Ministry of National Education in France.

 Type of higher educational institution 2011-2012 2012-2013
 Universite 219939 216055
 IUT 7507 6750
 STS 5659 6283
 CPGE 5659 6283
 Formations comptables non universite 315 294
 INP et universites de technologie 2944 2716
 Autres formations d'ingenieurs non universitaires 10564 11419
 Ecoles de commerce, gestion, vente et comptabilitie 18239 19601
 Ecoles superieures artistiques et culturelle 7786 8128
 Ecoles paramedicales et sociales 989 989
 Autres ecoles et formation 19073 20675

* Source:  Ministry of National Education, Youth And Sports
* According to the Ministry, 12.1% of students in France were from foreign shores in the academic year 2012 to 2013.
The following statistics were also recorded by the Ministry. In French higher education (excluding establishments of the ministries responsible for agriculture and health):
  •  Nearly one in two was a foreign student from the African continent in the year 2012. For the same year, 25% of the students were from North Africa and 19% in the rest of Africa. Less than a quarter (24%) came from Europe, 19% of the European Union and 24% from Asia, Middle East and Oceania. 9% of students were from the American continent.
  •  Half of foreign students were from the ten following nationalities: Moroccan, Chinese, Algerian, Tunisia, Senegal, German, Italian, Cameroonian, Vietnamese or Spanish. Moroccan.

Reasons for Popularity of France as an Academic Destination

  • Higher education programs taught in English include over 700 programs designed for international students, according to Campus France.

  • Studies to obtain degree in France are completed by French classes paves the way to jobs at 75 French-speaking countries for international students.

  • The flexibility of the higher educational system in France enables one to design an academic itinerary that is ideally suited to the needs of international students.

  • The cost of living in France is comparable to that of Western nations. A typical monthly budget for students in Paris is around €1,200. Elsewhere, it is closer to €800-1,000, including tuition fees.

  • In France, international students of different nationalities have access to the same rights as French students. In the past 10 years, the total number of international students in France has risen by 75%.

  • French educational institutions award degrees that follow the European Bologna system known as LMD (Licence, Master, and Doctorate). French diplomas are recognized and accepted globally.

  • Tuition rates at French institutions are the same for international as well as domestic students.

  • For programs pertaining to national diplomas, tuition rates are guided by law. Tuition rates are extremely reasonable for undergraduate, post graduate and doctoral programs.

All students, regardless of whether they are of French or international origin, enjoy the same benefits such as health coverage and housing assistance.


France is a popular choice for international students because of advantages such as affordable education and well organized courses.
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