Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Having an Experience or Exchange in France


1. High-quality Education. French universities are internationally recognized and provide a wide range of subjects for students to choose from. Students emerge from these education centres as mature adults ready to face the world.

2. A wide range of programs. The 83 universities offer programs providing technological and professional coursework and cover all disciplinary fields and the ‘Grandes Ecoles,’ and specialist schools (engineering, business and management, architecture, etc.) offer programs leading to specific professions. These institutions can be either public or private. Universities admit students with a high-school diploma or equivalent.

3. International recognition. University studies consist of three programs; within the framework of the Sorbonne-Bologna process, French Higher Education is now based on a new common European model. The LMD reforms (Licence/Master/Doctorat, or in English BaMaD reforms, the Bachelor-Master-PhD) allow for better integration of study programs at French universities, ‘Grandes Ecoles,’ and research institutions within the global market. The ECTS – European Credit Transfer System – is designed to allow for easier transfer of credits between universities. It applies to all national diplomas and it promotes flexibility between the courses of study. ECTS credits are transferable from one course of study to another.

4. Reputation. Numerous French ‘Grandes Ecoles’ and Universities prove very successful in the various rankings of the best universities in Europe and/or the world carried out by specialist international newspapers. For instance, the ranking of European Master’s programs in the Financial Times of 2015 confirms the value of French education in the global market. Twenty-two out of 85 European institutions featured in the winners’ list are French, with HEC in 2nd place, followed by INSEAD in 3rd place.

5. Excellence in research. Scientific research plays an important role in France. Indeed, France is ranked: 4th in the world for patents; 5th in the world for scientific publications; and 5th in the world for hosting international researchers. The number of French Nobel Prize winners (for example, Serge Haroche, 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics or Jean Tirole, 2014 Nobel Prize for Economy; and, France’s leading place as the world’s greatest number of Nobel Prize winners in literature), as well as the number of Field medals in Mathematics (Cédric Villani, 2010 or Artur Avila, 2014) confirm that France is a dynamic innovation and research country.

6. The hidden scholarship. Higher education in France is very affordable and benefits all students, thanks to a major effort by the government which contributes on average CAD $14,000 per student – whether they be French or international – per year. Fees for international and domestic students are the same in France.

7. The ‘French Touch.’ International students have the same benefits as French students: student accommodation supplement; student social security coverage; and the possibility of engaging in professional paid employment, provided the hours worked do not exceed 60 % of full time employment over a one year period. Canadian students holding a temporary residence permit bearing the student status may engage in a paid professional activity in France, without having to apply for a work permit. This activity must be carried out as secondary to their course of study, and is limited to 964 hours per year. International students holding a degree equivalent to a Master’s can request a temporary residence permit. This permit allows working in France after studies for six months.

8. The French way of life. France is most definitely a multicultural society and its way of life is anything but homogenous throughout the country. With its colourful history and deeply rooted regional traditions, you will find France anything but boring. Because of its cultural, geographical, and gastronomical riches, France is the world’s first tourist destination, welcoming 60 million visitors to France annually. And Paris is considered the capital of the world in terms of quality of life (Healey and Baker).

9. Travel opportunities. An international study program is not only about studying: Encouraging students to go on excursions to various parts of the country is very much part of the agenda as France has many places to visit. Students can go to the Alps to ski, take a cruise down the Rhine, or even visit the home of French Kings in Fontainebleau. These trips are beneficial in two ways, both academically and leisure-wise. Also, from France, it is easy to take trips to major European cities like London, Madrid, Brussels, and Milan.

10. Student life. Infrastructure, particularly in terms of transport and health, are at the forefront of modernity. Higher education institutions are often located in downtown centres that are close to museums, bookshops, cinemas, theatres and libraries. International students, like French students, can obtain reduced ticket prices for cinema, theatre, public transport, university restaurants…

11. One final word. See the world from a different perspective. Studying abroad is a unique opportunity for personal growth that will affect you for the rest of your life. Give your résumé a boost: An experience studying abroad will set you apart from other people in the job market. The skills students gain while living abroad will give them an advantage in just about any career field.

For more information, students are encouraged to contact the nearest Campus France office in Canada.

Contributed by:
Nancy Gill, Campus France Advisor

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