Due to dwindling numbers of international students this past decade, France plans to introduce several new measures in line with a national strategy that seeks to attract more international students to the region.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said these measures are being implemented because the international student population has fell by 8.5 percent between 2011 and 2016, according to Reuters. He also expressed concerns regarding increasing competition from countries such as Germany, Russia, Canada and China.
The PM said, “Many countries are already building global attractivity strategies, linking studies, the job market, tourism, which explains the influence of Asia or monarchies in the Gulf. In this field just as in other economic ones, the world’s balance of power is shifting. That’s why we need to welcome more foreign students.”
According to a report by Study.Eu, Germany is the No.1 choice for international students in European universities. This is mainly because of the free tuition and world-class standards in Germany.
Despite being home to renowned and established universities like the Sorbonne in Paris, and being hailed as the world’s top non-English speaking student destination, the country ranks behind countries such as the US, Britain and Australia in terms of its international student population.
The Prime Minister also said that increasing the number of foreigners studying in the country would help build French influence overseas, and wants to boost the number of foreign students by more than half over the next decade.
So how does France plan on doing this?
One way is to offer more English-taught courses to attract them. Study.Eu found that the reasons cited by unhappy foreign students studying in France included the absence of courses in English, along with high costs of living and a lack of student dorms.
Since 2004, efforts have been made to increase the number of English courses, which were increased fivefold. They will be boosted even further over coming years, along with offering more French courses for international students.
Another measure being made is the rise of current fees from 170 euros ($195) a year for a Bachelor’s degree to 2,770 euros ($3,149). Meanwhile, the current fees of 243 euros ($276) for Master’s and PhD courses will be raised to 3,770 euros ($4,286). This only applies to those from non-European countries, who previously paid the same as French students.
The rationale behind this is that the current fees are being misinterpreted by students around the world as a sign that French higher education is of low quality. The extra revenue will also go towards providing better facilities and for boosting the number of scholarships offered by the foreign ministry. The new tuition fees will be implemented from September 2019 onwards.
Philippe said, “That means France will still subsidize two thirds of the cost of their studies. And the fees will remain well below the 8,000 euros to 13,000 euros charged by the Dutch or the tens of thousands of pounds paid in Britain.”
France will also simplify student visa procedures and regulations, making it easier for international students. Also, those graduating with a Master’s degree from a French university will be able to obtain a residence visa to find work or set up a business in France.
France also plans to increase the number of French campuses abroad, such as the Franco-Tunisian University of Africa and the Mediterranean (UFTAM) which will kick off its courses next year. France hopes that growing its representation abroad will help attract more international students.