Higher education in France for foreigners: a detailed guide
France is known for its large number of prestigious universities, high quality education and rich cultural heritage. This country attracts students from all over the world who dream of obtaining higher education in renowned educational institutions and deepening their knowledge of the French language. Find out more about the main aspects of studying for foreigners in France, including choosing a university, the admission process, funding and student support, as well as general tips for successful study in this country
Higher education in France has deep historical roots that go back centuries. Higher education institutions of this country are famous for their age-old stability and quality of education. One of the oldest traditions is the admission of foreign students, which is now an integral part of French education. According to statistics, every tenth student receiving higher education in France is a foreigner, and this number is growing every year. In general, France ranks third in the world in terms of the number of foreign students choosing to study there.
Universities in France are known for their variety of specialties, and there is no field in which there is no opportunity to get a quality education. Young people who complete their studies in France have a wide range of career prospects, regardless of whether it is engineering, management, politics, arts or humanities.
The French higher education system differs from the Ukrainian one in its mobility and flexibility. Education is divided into three cycles, and each of them ends with a corresponding diploma. This gives students the opportunity to choose their own path of study, choosing specializations and industries according to their interests and career ambitions.
One of the significant advantages of studying in France is the accessibility of education in public universities. The cost of education is practically free, starting from 500 euros per year, and students have the opportunity to receive discounts on services such as transportation and museum visits. France provides an opportunity to obtain a high quality higher education without causing significant financial difficulties for students.
Features of the higher education system in France
Studying in France, despite its adaptation to the Bologna system, has several features. The two-year degree remains unchanged, similar to endless higher education, leading to a junior specialist diploma. However, all other levels of education meet European standards and include:
1. Bachelor's degree, which lasts 3 years;
2. Master's degree, which is completed over 2 years;
3. MBA programs, which cover about 1.5 years;
4. Doctoral programs, which last 3 years.
Most bachelor's programs are taught in French, although the possibility of studying in English is gradually increasing at the master's level, but there are still few options. The deadlines for submitting documents vary: usually, it is by January 15, but in case of a personal visit to the university, the deadline is January 31, and only in exceptional cases it is extended to March 15.
Admission requirements for international students in France
Any applicant with a complete secondary education after grade 11 or 12 (depending on the country) has the opportunity to apply for admission to a university in France after graduation. The minimum age for admission is 18 years. If a student has not yet reached the age limit before starting their studies in France, they should consult with the university about the possibility of admission.
The main selection criteria include a high grade point average and knowledge of French at a level not lower than B2 (DELF) or C1 (DALF). Any international certificate can be used to confirm the language level.
The advantage of entering a higher education institution in France is the absence of entrance exams, which simplifies the admission process for applicants.
Higher education in France for foreigners: important nuances
The process of admission to French universities for Ukrainians begins with the collection of required documents. The importance and completeness of the package of documents plays an important role in realizing your dream of studying abroad.
The main documents to be prepared for admission include:
1. A translated, apostilled certificate or diploma with a supplement, where it is important to have a good grade point average, which should not be less than 4 on the grading scale;
2. An international certificate confirming the level of knowledge of French or English not lower than B2 (above average);
3. A certificate from the Ministry of Education of your country confirming academic law and the grading system. For applicants applying for a master's degree, an additional certificate of accreditation of the university is required;
4. Extract from the university and translated scan of the western book for first and second year students;
5. Medical certificate;
6. 3–4 photos;
7. A copy of the foreign passport.
After receiving an invitation to study, a student visa is issued. The consulate will also require a bank statement confirming that you have at least 10,000 euros in your account (the minimum threshold may change annually), as well as an insurance policy for applicants aged 18 to 28. If you are under 18, you also need to obtain permission from your parents to travel.
Admission procedure to French universities for international students
The first step in the process of studying in France is to obtain a language certificate. It is important to take care of this in advance, as it is valid for 2 years. Usually, the registration for the test ends a month before the test date. If you fail to reach the required level, do not despair - you can always try again. It is worth noting that each language test costs about 100 euros.
If it turns out that your French language skills do not meet the minimum level, it is recommended to take preparatory courses at one of the universities in France. These courses are available at most educational institutions.
After successfully passing the DALF language test, you can obtain the necessary certificates from the Ministry of Education, which usually takes about 2 weeks. Then these documents should be attached to the certificate with an appendix and apostilled, which takes at least a week. The next step is translation (about 3 days) and notarization, which you should attend with an accredited translator.
After that, you fill out an application form and send scanned copies of all documents to Études en France, indicating your desired university in France. After your admission is confirmed, you need to go to the consulate or embassy to obtain a student visa (group D).
Tuition fees for international students in France
Most higher education institutions in France are fee-based, and admission to them is usually accompanied by a high competition, with 6 to 12 applicants per place. Elite universities in France introduce complex examination programs that function as a filter to select only the best of the best.
These universities are supported by both public and private entities and train highly qualified professionals. As a rule, graduates of these universities do not have problems with employment after graduation. If a student receives a scholarship provided by the state, he or she is obliged to work in a certain government position for 7–10 years after graduation.
However, it is important to note that almost all French universities offer free higher education opportunities. In this case, the student must pay a state fee of 400 to 800 euros, and all other tuition costs are covered by the state. If you succeed in your initial studies, you can apply for a state scholarship for a master's degree.
The best option for international students is to enter a public university with an existing bachelor's degree, which can open access to a reputable master's program with all the benefits it provides.
So, studying for foreigners in France can be an exciting and extremely rewarding opportunity. However, it is important to carefully plan the process of admission, financing, and adaptation to a new life in a foreign country. By following the right steps and learning about the local culture, you can have a quality education and an unforgettable study experience in France.
Daria Rogova, Head of Insurance at Visit World
To move, travel or work safely in a new country, you will need health insurance. You can apply for an extended policy on our website here.
Products from Visit World for a comfortable trip:
Checklist for obtaining a visa and necessary documents in France;
Insurance for foreign students in France.
More articles on the topic:
Immigration to France: how to move for permanent residence.
Health Insurance in France for Foreigners: a detailed guide.
Employment contracts in France: types and characteristics.
Getting a work visa to France: required documents and peculiarities of the procedure.
France immigration: a detailed guide for Ukrainian refugees in FR.
French Tech Visa: obtaining a residence permit under the Passeport Talent program.
Studying in France: the perfect guide for a bachelor's degree in 2024.
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