Why foreign students choose France as a study-abroad destination

If you are considering studying abroad in Europe, consider France! Besides being the land of culture, fashion and architecture, France is a great destination for international students intent on pursuing higher education. In the 2021/22 academic year, over 400,000 international students registered at French higher education institutions owing to excellent academic standards, a wide assortment of academic programs available in France, education affordability, work opportunities after graduation, as well as the French language and lifestyle.

Choosing to study abroad in France will put immense value on your resume. France is presently a European and international business and technology hub, and as of 2022, the country ranked as the world’s seventh-largest economy. With Paris being a global leader in international business and Nice being an economic hub in southern France, France has lots to offer in terms of business exposure.

What are the types of higher education institutes in France?

Institutes of higher learning in France typically comprise public universities such as the eminent Sorbonne University as well as the prestigious Grandes écoles, such as HEC Paris for Economics, Sciences Po Paris for Political Studies, and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales for Social Studies, to name a few.

French universities are public institutions that provide technical, academic, and professional degrees to high school (junior college or polytechnic) graduates. The Grandes écoles are highly selective public and private institutions just like the public universities, but usually provide more specialized and rigorous three-year studies in subjects like engineering, business, and public administration. Admission to the Grandes écoles is very competitive, according to students’ examination scores.

Moreover, France also provides public and private specialized schools to train students for professional careers in domains like architecture, tourism and art.

Why do international students choose France as a study-abroad destination?

#1: Academic excellence

The French take their higher education seriously, and France has poured in lots of investment into research and state-of-the-art technical know-how to keep up with international trends. In 2021, the QS World University Rankings, an annual ranking of higher education institutions published since 2018, featured 36 French universities, with 10 of them ranking within the world’s top 300 institutions! This year, two French institutions ranked within the top 50 of the world’s universities, while four emerged among the world’s top 100!

Examples of highly-ranked institutions include the Institut Polytechnique de Paris, Sorbonne University and the University of Paris-Saclay. In terms of business schools, France dominated the Financial Times’ rankings for 2022, with schools like HEC, ESSEC, and INSEAD among the top 20.

#2: Wide range of academic programs available

Besides premium academic standards, international students are drawn to the broad range of academic programs available in French institutes of higher learning. Home to thousands of higher education institutions, France offers an almost unrestricted variety of schools, programs and locations to cater to students of all interests and abilities. This means that you can opt to study wine management in Burgundy, business in Nice or medieval art in Paris, France’s capital. If you decide to study abroad in France as a foreign student, leverage the sheer variety of study programs available and enjoy your learning journey!

#3: Affordable tuition fees

The cost of higher education in France is relatively cheaper than in other popular study-abroad destinations for Singaporeans, such as the US, the UK, Canada and Australia.

For instance, while foreign students in the US can expect to pay an average of $32,000 to $60,000 (USD) annually for their tuition fees, they can enjoy huge savings if they study in France, as French public universities typically charge international undergraduate students and postgraduate students around 3000 and 4000 euros per year respectively. The private grandes écoles or grands établissments can charge up to 10,000 euros yearly, however. Although French universities levy administration charges, which leads to some increase in the total cost for foreign students, figures usually are far lower than in other countries like the UK.

What is more, France is a great country for student discounts as many tourist attractions like museums and galleries are free of charge to students under 26 years of age. Students can also obtain a carte jeune (youth card) for discounted train travel around as well.

#4: Work opportunities after graduation

International students who are not ready to bid au revoir to life in France after graduation can look forward to various opportunities for employment in the country as well.

That said, non-European students must have a guarantee of employment or a work contract and be paid at least one and a half times the minimum wage (varies depending on year). Without a guarantee of employment, a foreign, non-European graduate may apply for a non-renewable Autorisation Provisoire de Séjour (APS – temporary resident permit) valid for twelve months to look for jobs in France. In order to qualify, foreign graduates must have a professional Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree or be in the process of starting a business. Also, many academic programs have a compulsory end-of-studies internship for students to expose themselves to working life and apply skills learned during their years of study. Such internships could translate into full-time jobs after graduation or at least provide foreign students chances to expand their professional networks.

#5: The French language and lifestyle

Many foreign students select France as their study-abroad destination to soak up as much of France’s good cuisine, fine arts, beautiful Catholic cathedrals and culture. Several museums and art galleries have no admission fees for students under 26 years of age, so Students also look forward to participating in the French people’s joie de vivre (joy of living) with a certain je ne sais quoi.

The elegant and romantic French language is also a major attraction, drawing many foreign students to study it first-hand in France! After all, as it is no secret that the French do not fancy speaking English to foreigners in France, what better place to improve one’s French than in France? Additionally, learning French improves foreign students’ career prospects after graduation, besides giving them opportunities to interact with new people during their studies in France.

Study in France,  à la française!

If you have been daydreaming about mastering French, relishing the great works of art done by Nicolas Poussin and Caravaggio in the Louvre, or savouring croissants and crème brûlée in a quaint Lyonnais brasserie after classes in the afternoon, then for the sake of your future and stomach, head to France for your overseas studies!


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