Aside from being the center of Western culture, art, thought, politics and research for over 800 years, France remains a major presence in the modern world and continues to be a huge contributor to the fields of science, art, cinema, fashion, technology, politics, philosophy, archeology, trade and economics. Students studying in France today can benefit from a variety of opportunities and exciting developments in the French culture and economy.
In the information technology sector, France ranks second in Europe and fourth in the world for US investment, raking in US$60 billion a year. It is also a rapidly growing sector, with growth rates at about 10% per year. And over the next three years, investors plan to create 25,480 new jobs in several different sectors, which would lead to a demand for professionals with experience living in France.
Since the US is France’s single largest foreign direct investor, students from the United States who speak French (and have had experience living or studying in France) are prime candidates for these jobs, especially since there are a number of American firms looking to expand operations to France. In software development and multimedia design, France has one of Europe’s largest and most competent labor forces as well as a substantial consumer market for these goods. Certainly, your experience in France will serve you well if you are interested in entering the software or information technology sectors.
For students interested in art, cinema and fashion, France is a virtual Mecca. Over the past few centuries, France has established itself as a major European hub for painting, sculpture, photography, cinema, theater (of all types), fashion and cosmetic design; and over the past several decades, France has begun to make its presence known in the graphic and multimedia fields. With artists like Monet, Manet, David, Gericault, Rodin, Renoir, Matisse, and Lachaise, and cinema greats like Jean Cocteau, Luc Besson, and Claire Denis, France has more than made a name for itself amongst artists and cinema fanatics the world round. In fashion, designers like Christian Dior and Yves Saint-Laurent continue to set industry standards. Paris is still considered the center of fashion and design in western culture, and is a prime location for any student interested in pursuing a career in these fields.
Education System in France
France is one of the most developed countries in the world with significant technological progress. The country is associated with several technological milestones including France’s high speed trains (TGV), the Airbus, Concorde and the fully automated rapid transit system. France is also responsible for substantial contribution in the field of math and sciences (astrophysics, biology, medicine, genetics and physics). One of the main reasons for rapid growth of French economy is its highly efficient education system. It is already one of the best known education systems in the world. Ministry of National Education regulates all the educational programs in France. All the teachers of public primary and secondary schools are state civil servants. There are many professors and researchers in France’s universities, who are employed by ministry. The highly centralized and organized French educational system is divided into three major categories, the primary education, secondary education and higher education. Read further to know more about the French educational system in brief.
The minimum age of children entering the education system in France is three when they begin Crèche or nursery school. After completing nursery, children move on to primary school. In the first year, they learn to write and develop their reading skills. The primary education system is of high standard across the entire country. Only after the age of 10 or 11, children are moved on to secondary school.
Secondary school in France is divided into two stages: Colleges, which cater to the first four years of secondary education, from 11-14 and Lycees that provide a three-year course of further secondary education for children between the ages of 15-18. At the age of 15, however, students are given a choice between an academic and vocational pathway. Students, who choose vocational track, move into some type of vocational career after finishing education at 18. Other students who have decided to follow the academic track continue their general studies for the next three years. At the age of 18, these students are required to give an entrance exam known as Le Baccalaureate. Based on their performance at this examination, they are entitled a place at a university. It has been observed that about 70% of secondary students in France take this exam hoping for a place in university.
University Education in France
Students who pass the Baccalaureate exam get a free seat at university in France. There are 77 government funded universities in France and university education is free for students at these universities. All students are required to sit for an exam at the end of their first year and only those who pass the exam are allowed to continue with their university education.
The duration of a typical undergraduate degree is generally 3 years. It is the ECTS system that determines the level of education and the number of years of study. All the universities and the higher educational institutes in France can provide undergraduate degrees.
There are two main degrees offered in the graduate level, the masters in research and the masters in professional (post graduate diploma). In France, students with excellent academic performance in bachelors can only apply for master in research and they too have to give aptitude tests and interview to secure their seats. There are fewer constraints when it comes to international programs where telephone interview is possible. Unlike other countries, majority of master programs in France include mandatory internships and master thesis.
Only those students who have successfully completed their masters in research are eligible for doctoral programs. In France, only universities and poly techniques offer doctoral programs. The usual duration of the study ranges from 3 to 5 years and sometimes takes more time until the completion of the thesis. There are several schools of engineering, business and management in the country that offer such doctoral degrees.
The academic year in France usually begins in September or October. You can directly download the application forms for universities from their respective websites or ask for application forms from the universities. You can even ask the application forms for the universities from the French Embassy in your respective countries.
- Complete and signed application form and enrollment agreement.
- Non Refundable application fees.
- You need to show a proof of assets sufficient to fund your studies.
- A valid passport
- Students are required to submit complete details of their education, including course subjects and grades in the applications.
- Students applying for university admission need to submit an official transcript from each institution that they have attended after secondary school with full details of the subjects, credits involved and other details like correspondence courses, diplomas etc.
- In case the original documents or transcripts are not in English, students are required to submit copies and a good English translation along with your application. The sent educational documents should be certified or attested by a notary public, or a solicitor, or an official of the institution who issued the document.
- In case of international students, you need to send your IELTS/ TOEFL scores as a proof of your English proficiency.
- After submitting your complete filled application form, you will get admission offer from French university. Prior to this you will need to get student visa for France.
- On reaching France, you must report to your institution and pay tuition fees for the academic year. After payment of fees, you will receive proof of enrollment and your student ID card, which will help you to get residency permit.
- After completing the whole administrative registration process, you will report to your academic department in the institution.
At Public Universities
Students who are interested in applying for first cycle bachelor degrees need to pay 169 EUR per annum. Engineering degrees at public universities can cost you tuition fees of 538 EUR per academic year. The tuition fees for medical students vary according to their program. However, the average tuition fee for doctor of medicine is 452 EUR per annum.
- Second cycle or master’s degree students need to pay tuition fees of 226 EUR per year.
- PhD or doctoral program students which are also third cycle students have to pay tuition fees of 342 EUR per year.
At Private Universities
Tuition fees may vary from institution to institution and program to program. However, the average tuition fees at private universities can be around 1500- 6,000 EUR per year. Business schools usually charge tuition fees of 4,500 to 7,000 EUR per year.
Student Visa for France
Types of Student Visa
- If a student is interested for a short stay in France, he/she can apply for a Schengen visa which is valid up to 3 months.
- For students who are opting for courses that require them to stay for 3 to 6 months in France, they can apply for temporary long stay visa. For the same, they do not need a residency card.
- For longer stay, students should apply for one year-visa. To obtain this visa, students should use the long term visa application form. During the process of the visa application and after the arrival in France, the students must complete all the relevant documentation with the French school or university. Students are required to go for a medical check-up to a doctor from the Office des Migrations Internationales. Thereafter, they are required to contact the "Prefecture de police" to get their student residency card.
- To obtain the student residency card, students need to present the visa, the original documents previously required for the visa, a birth certificate and the medical results. After the first year of study, visas are automatically renewed, provided the student holding the visa is able to produce the required documentation.
Requirements for the Student Visa
- You need to have a passport signed and valid for time period of your stay in France.
- The visa application forms should be completely signed and legibly filled out with recent passport size photograph pasted on it.
- You need to present either a positive response to your preliminary application for admission or a letter of admission from a public or private institution of higher education in France. In case of letters of admission from private institutions, you must specify the number of course hours and certify that tuition fee has been paid in advance.
- Students who are receiving scholarships need to provide documentation on the letterhead of the granting organization specifying the amount and duration of their grant.
- In case there is someone in France that is providing you financial support, you need to produce a signed statement of responsibility, a photocopy of the identity card of the guarantor, and evidence of sufficient means to provide the promised support.
- If you are arranging financial support from abroad, you have to furnish evidence of the opening of a bank account into which the necessary funds will be deposited and a written commitment from your sponsor. It is necessary that the statement of commitment should be translated into French and bear a legalized signature. In case of financial support from the student's home government, he/she need to produce a letter from government ensuring appropriate funding.
- For students under 18 years of age, it is mandatory to show written authorization from their parents or legal guardians.
Time Required for Issue of Student Visa
Once you have submitted a visa application, the consular authority will process it and decide on whether to issue a visa or not. The time period of issuing visa depends upon the possible consultations that the consular authority must conduct. In case the consular authority has not responded to you within two months, you should consider that your visa application has not been approved