France aims to draw in 10,000 Indian students by 2020

France is looking to boost its “strategic partnership” with India, and one of the ways is through higher education – the country hopes to increase Indian student numbers at its schools and universities to at least 10,000 in three years’ time.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, during his visit to India this week, said that last year, up to 4,000 Indian students studied in France.

“This is 50 times more than that of 20 years ago. But it’s still insufficient in terms of the quality of the relationship between the two countries,” he said, as quoted by Times of India.

According to Ayrault, French President Francois Hollande and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are on the same page regarding the importance of higher education and student exchange programmes in strengthening ties between the two countries.

In light of tightened visa restrictions and limited job prospects in countries which are more traditionally popular among Indian students, such as the UK and Australia, France has ramped up efforts to attract international students looking for alternative study destinations.

Ayrault commented that international student mobility was increasing at exponential rates, going so far as to predict that the number of students studying overseas would hit eight million by 2020.

“Four million students studied in foreign countries in 2012. Around the world, international student mobility has become a major issue. This mobility is a guarantee of freedom,” he added.

Ayrault said this during the launch of the Bengaluru branch of France Alumni Network at Alliance Francaise. The network got its start in Paris in 2014, and is a multilingual digital platform to connect, inform, and guide foreign students who have studied at higher education institutes in France.

Image via Associated Press

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