Many options for international students

Of the 2.5 million students studying in France every year, around 12% come from abroad, giving campus life a distinctly international flavor. Thousands of courses are taught in English, although students studying courses taught in French will need to pass a language test such as the DELF.

When it comes to finding the right course, international students are spoilt for choice. France has more than 3,500 public and private learning institutes, including 72 universities, 25 multi-institute campuses, 271 doctoral schools, and 220 business and management schools. What's more, it has a host of specialist universities, such as 22 schools of architecture and over 227 engineering schools.

"Studies in France are before anything a high level of education," says Ratiba Elkebir, an international business developer and graduate of Pierre et Marie Curie University and Ecole Nationale de Commerce Bessières. "It's direct access to multiculturalism, with a large choice of specialties and exchange programs with EU and non-EU countries. Institutions in France are more and more digitalising courses and contents for more accessibility. Being a foreign student in France is a great package with several advantages such as transport, health, housing, entertainment, sport, and more."

Exciting startups

Paris is a hotbed for innovation and tech-startups. In fact, it's becoming one of the go-to places in Europe for savvy entrepreneurs looking to secure that all-important seed investment. Just last year, French President Emmanuel Macron announced an annual €5 billion public-private investment fund, while corporate data provider Dealroom reported that venture capitalists poured over €4 billion into new French companies during 2019. 

A list of 2020’s most exciting French startups includes companies that are breaking new ground in AI, cloud-computing, podcasting platforms, digital marketing, and travel. Moreover, some of these exciting ventures are tackling some of the world's biggest challenges, including climate change. For example, BlaBlaCar is a carpooling platform that helps people share travel costs and reduce the amount of traffic on French roads. All this means there are many career opportunities for graduates, and if you've got a great idea that you want to get off the ground, then France could be the place to make it happen!

A great place for scientists

France is also an excellent destination for science graduates interested in careers in research and development. It has a long history of producing some of the most influential scientists of the 20th century, including the founder of bacteriology and microbiology, Louis Pasteur, and Marie Curie, the physicist and chemist who became the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize. Today, many of the country's leading minds are based at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), a public research organization with an annual budget of €3.3 billion. That supports more than 33,000 researchers dedicated to breaking new ground in biology, engineering, physics, sustainability, and the humanities.

Attractive tuition fees

Tuition fees at public universities in France are set by the government and are significantly lower than in other European countries. French citizens or permanent residents from the European Economic Area (EEA) pay as little as €170 a year for a bachelor's program and €243 per year for a master's programs. PhD students at public universities in France pay just €380 per year. 

Public university fees for those outside the EEA are higher, although they still offer excellent value compared to other popular international study destinations. An international student from outside the EEA will pay around €2,770 per year for a bachelor's degree and €3,770 for a master’s. 

A robust economy with a bright future

In 2019, France was ranked the seventh richest country in the world, with an annual GDP growth rate of somewhere between 1.3-1.7%. This was down to significant public and private investment, positive consumer habits, and economic reforms that enhanced market flexibility and production levels in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. 

Like most other countries, France is currently facing a period of economic uncertainty due to the outbreak of COVID-19.  However, before the global pandemic began, France was in an excellent position, which bodes well for its future recovery. The Internal Monetary Fund believes the French economy will shrink by 7% during the remainder of 2020 but should then regain over 4% of that in 2021, taking national GDP back up to around $2,867 billion.

A great place to land your dream job

Students with ambitions to work in market-leading companies and organizations should definitely think about heading to France. The country is home to Orange, one of the largest mobile service providers in Europe and Africa, as well as cosmetics giants L'Oreal, which oversees more than 30 luxury brands, including Maybelline and Diesel.

AXA insurance, which provides policies for over 100 million customers worldwide, is also based in France. It isn't the only major financial institution where you can make a mark and earn a very generous salary; credit group Agricole and BPCE bank both have bases in France. Or, you could land a graduate role at BNP Paribas, the French international banking group that won a "Top Employers Europe" award in 2018.

French is a global language

French isn't just one of the most romantic languages in the world; it's also one of the most useful. With 276 million French speakers worldwide, it's the official language in 29 countries, including some that make up a fifth of all global commerce. This makes it the third most common business language, and students who learn how to write and speak French will significantly improve their chances of landing a great job after graduation. Bilingual graduates who can speak French are in demand across various industries in France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium, and the French-speaking emerging economies in Africa. At the same time, the level of English, especially on most university campuses, is quite strong.

A rich cultural experience

International students in France have a rich cultural environment to explore. Students in or near Paris can visit iconic sights like the Eiffel Tower or see paintings by the European grandmasters hanging in the Louvre Museum. Alternatively, they can enjoy a coffee in the cafes on the Left Bank, then stroll the same streets once frequented by great philosophers and writers, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, and Samuel Beckett. And then there's the French food and drink to savor, which includes delicious wines, tasty cheeses, buttery croissants, and classic dishes like Coq Au Vin and Chicken Cordon Bleu. Although you'll probably be getting by on a student budget, you can still soak up that famous Parisian sophistication with some window shopping at the fashion boutique along the Champs-Élysées.

With so much to offer, it's no surprise that thousands of international students head to France every year. It's a country where you can get a great education, launch a successful career, and experience the best of European culture