How to Study at Cheapest Universities in France
Whenever the subject of studying abroad comes up, popular study destinations like Canada, Australia and the United States dominate. However, France is becoming increasingly popular as a top global study destination, especially for postgraduate study.
According to a recent poll, France came second on the list of the world’s choicest study destinations for international students, second only to Canada in the rankings!
Currently, over 250,000 international students are studying in France, and projections indicate that this number is set to increase in the coming years. This is occasioned by the increasing global demand for quality and affordable education.
Study in France: Why France?
Below are some key reasons why France has become a top study destination for international students:
High Quality of Education
Universities in France offer world-class education at an affordable tuition cost. Several French universities rank among the world’s best educational institutions, and they are also known for quality research and innovations, especially in the fields of engineering and healthcare. Furthermore, certification or degrees obtained from Universities in France are recognized all over the world. They have over 70 government-funded public universities and a good number of private universities and institutes, all offering quality education.
This is perhaps the most interesting feature of universities in France. The average tuition in French universities ranges from as low as $350 in public universities, to upwards of $1,000, which is relatively cheap! Furthermore, students are allowed to take up part-time jobs while they study, so as to earn supplemental income to offset other bills. In some cases, even the tuition in some private universities in France is not as high as what is obtainable in some other parts of the world. For this reason, many students from all around the world troop to France yearly for their educational pursuits. As at the last count by the French Ministry of Education, international students constitute an estimated 10% of all enrolments in French universities.
France is one of the most ethnically diverse nations on earth. Persons from almost every continent on earth can be found either living, or studying, or working in France. This gives students an international experience while studying.
By all standards, France is one of the most stable countries in the world, suitable for study, work or living. Racism is not a phenomenon that can be associated with France, as they have been known to be accommodating of racial differences. The economy of France is also quite stable.
Now, let’s get to the crux of the matter: How to Study in Cheapest Universities in France.
As earlier established, university education in France is generally more affordable than in other places in Europe and America. However, some universities are cheaper than others, and many students like to know this. Below is a list of the cheapest universities in France that you can study at, even as an international student.
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Least Expensive Universities and Specialized Institutions In France
- Jean Monnet University
- Claude Bernard University
- Henri Poincare University
- Joseph Fourier University
- Blaise Pascal University
- Paris13 University
- European Center For Advanced International Studies
- Garden Design Academy
- IESEG School of Management
- Institut Commercial de Nancy
- Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse
- University Bordeaux I
- Universite Catholique de Lille
- Universite Catholique de Lyon
- Universite d’Aix-Marseille III
- Universite d’Orleans
- Universite de Metz
- Universite de Montpellier I
- Universite de Montpellier II
- Universite de Nantes
- Universite de Reims
- Universite de Savoie
- University of Paris
- Pierre and Marie Curie University École Normale Superieure, Paris (ENS Paris)
- Université Paris-Sud 11
- Université Paris Descartes
- Catholic University of Lyon
- Université Paris Dauphine
- Universityof Strasbourg
- University of Caen Normandy
- University of Angers
- Nantes University
- University of Burgundy
- Paris School of Business
- Sciences Po
- Ecole Polytechnique
- Ecole Centrale de Lyon
- Ecole Normale Superieure
- Centrale Supelec
- Universite de Franche-Comte
- Universite de Marne la Vallee
- Universite de Provence
- Universite de la Mediterranee
- Universite des Sciences et Technologies de Lille
- Universite Lumiere Lyon
- Universite de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour
- Universite de Technologie Compiegne
- University of Picardie
- University of Rennes 1
- American University of Paris
- College de France
- Ecole Centrale Paris
- Ecole Nationale Superieure de Techniques Avancees
- Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines de Paris
- Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines de St-Etienne
- Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Electronique, d’Electrotechnique, d’Informatique et d’Hydraulique de Toulouse
- Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Ingenieurs en Construction Aeronautique (ENSICA)
- Ecole Nationale Superieure des telecomunnications de Paris (ENST)
- Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC)
- Ecole Nationale des Telecommunications de Bretagne
- Ecole Normale Superieure
- Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon
- Ecole Polytechnique
- Ecole Superieure D’Electricite
- Ecole Superieure D’Ingenieur en Electronique et Electrotechnique
- Ecole Superieure en Sciences Informatiques
- Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Paris
- European Institute of Business Administration
- Institut National de Physique Nucleaire et de Physique des Particules
- Institut National des Sciences Appliquees de Lyon
- Institut National des Sciences Appliquees de Toulouse
- Institut National des Telecommunications
- Institut Superieure D’Electronique du Nord
- Institut d’Informatique d’Entreprise
- Institut des Mathematiques Appliquees de Grenoble
- Universite d’Aix-Marseille III
Each of the above-mentioned universities and institutions are known for their affordable tuition and quality education. More information about each university can be found on each school’s website, which can be obtained via an internet search on the name of each university.
Specific tuition information for selected universities is found below:
University of Paris-Sud
Located in the southern suburbs of Paris the French Capital, the University of Paris-Sud (also called the University of Paris-Saclay) is one of the cheapest public universities in France. The average tuition fee starts from 183 euros per year. More information about the university, programs and fees can be found at their website: www.u-psud.fr.
University of Strasbourg
With a student population of 46,000 students, this is the second-largest university (by student population) in France. Alumni of this university are also world-renown for their contributions to various sectors of the world, and more than 15 of them have been awarded Nobel Prizes. Average tuition fee stands at roughly 184 euros per year, and it is the same for both local and international students. Check their official website, www.unistra.fr for more information.
Nantes University is a multi-campus university located in the city of Nantes, France. Student enrolment stands at nearly 35,000, and it boasts of a highly ethnically diverse environment. In recent times, it has features among the world’s top 500 universities, alongside a couple of other French universities. Its average tuition for students per year stands at 185 euros. Candidates visit the university’s website, www.univ-nantes.fr for more information.
University of Burgundy
Tuition fees at the University of Burgundy are cheap, with an average tuition of 190 euros per academic year. However, additional costs are present in certain programs and fields, such as the International Master in Business Studies program. Their website, http://en.u-bourgogne.fr contains more information on tuition and programs.
University of Angers
One of the cheapest universities to study at in France, the University of Angers is home to roughly 22,000 students, with an average tuition of 220 euros per year. You can view program-specific information on their website at www.univ-angers.fr.
University of Orleans
Unarguably one of France’s oldest universities, the University of Orleans is also one of the country’s most affordable schools. Notable historical figures like John Calvin and Pierre de Fermat passed through this great institution. The average tuition here is 600 euros per annum, and specific program information can be found at www.univ-orleans.fr.
Ecole Normale Superieure – €600
This famous college is situated in Paris, and plays host to some 2,400 students. Average yearly tuition hovers around 600 euros. Check their website, www.ens.fr for detailed information.
Ecole Centrale de Lyon
This is one of the best institutions for research in the whole of France, and most students here are postgraduate and doctoral students. Interestingly, average tuition fees here start at 2500 euros. Their official website is: www.ec-lyon.fr.
University of Caen Normandy
This is one of the oldest public universities in France. With a total student enrolment of more than 26,000, the University of Caen is a top study choice for many international students. Average tuition fee for degree programs hovers between 600 euros and 1200 euros per year. Click on www.unicaen.fr for more information.
This institution was formed as a result of a merger between Ecole Centrale Paris and Supelec in 2015. Today, their engineering program is one of the best in the whole of France, and their tuition fee is quite expensive, compared to others. Average yearly tuition is 3,500 euros. FInd detailed information on their website, www.centralesupelec.fr.
Paris School of Business – €8,900
This is one of the most prestigious business schools in the whole of Europe. Several top managers of global conglomerates had their business education in this institution. Furthermore, it is not cheap: average tuition per year is from 8900 euros. For more detailed information, visit their website at www.psbedu.paris.
How to Study in France: Admissions Procedure
Asides the cheapest universities and their average tuition fees, there are several other things that every prospective candidate must know, to be able to secure admission into a University in France. Information about the courses that can be studied, universities applicable, application procedures, eligibility requirements, and admission timelines and visa requirements (for international students) are very crucial to making a successful application for admission. We shall walk you through the above-listed elements, one after the other.
The first step in realizing your dream of studying in France is to first decide on the course you want to study. There are various fields and programs that might appeal to your interest, so it is important for you to fine-tune your desires and chose what you really want. The good news is, several programs are taught in English language medium, so if you do not yet understand French language fluently, you don’t have a big problem; though all candidates are advised to learn the language for easy communication in the cities.
Below is a list of top courses and programs that you can study in most universities in France.
- Artifical Intelligence
- Business Management
- Computer Programming
- Computer Science
- Data Science
- Electrical Engineering
- Environmental Science
- Fashion Design
- Fine Art
- Food Science
- Graphic Design
- Hospitality Management
- Hotel Management
- Industrial Design
- Interior Design
- Mechanical Engineering
- Public Health
- Social Work
- Sports Coaching
- Sports Management
- Urban Planning
- Web development
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Applying to Study
Applying to study in France is not rocket science. The application procedure is also not significantly different from what is obtainable in other countries in Europe and America. However, there are some subtle differences that you must take note of in order to have a good chance at gaining admission. Here are the steps involved in the process, in appropriate order.
i. Choose Your Course:
As earlier established, the first step in applying for study in France is to choose your desired program. All other considerations only come into play when this one is sorted. Refer to the list of available programs we have provided here. If your desired program is not listed here, search the internet for programs that match your interest and passion, and check for universities in France that offer it.
ii. Select the University
The reason why we have provided a list of cheap universities that you can study at is to help you in your search. There are a few factors you should consider when choosing a university. They are:
- Ranking: Most universities in Europe are ranked yearly based on quality of education, student experience, and a number of other critical indicators. A high ranking by any university indicates that such university will offer good value for your investment, and that you are sure to have great student and career support services as a student, if you are admitted. So, while cost of tuition is important, also look out for the university rankings!
- Cost: Cost consistently ranks among the top three considerations of students looking to enrol in universities in France. A lot of universities offer very affordable tuition; and it is good you make your research well before you decide on a school to attend.
- Acceptance rate: This is one of the more subtle considerations that must not be neglected in the process of selecting a study destination! Generally, universities in France have a good acceptance rate, especially for international students, but some universities have higher rates than others. If you apply to a University with a high acceptance rate, your chances of gaining admission are higher than if you apply to other universities, especially when you put in a strong application with all the required supporting documents.
iii. Check the requirements:
Every country (and indeed every good school) has a set of requirements, without which admission cannot be granted. The general entry requirements include:
- Candidate must fulfil the educational eligibility criteria, either by way of possessing a certain minimum level of education, or a certain number of hours of work experience in a specific field or location, or both
- Candidate must submit certificate and transcripts from previous educational institution attended
- Candidate must demonstrate proof of financial capacity to attend university in France, if admitted
- Candidate must demonstrate proof of language proficiency
Some universities also set their own requirements for admission. Depending on the intended program of study, they may require applicants to:
- Submit a thesis or proposal
outlining their interests
- Apply for a supervisor in their chosen faculty
This list is by no means exhaustive. It only gives insight into what universities typically expect from their candidates, and the specific requirements for each university may include of all of the aforementioned items, and more.
iv. Application Procedure:
The application process for gaining admission into a university in France is not entirely different from what is found in other countries. The following elements are common:
- Fixed application period: Universities in France typically run their academic year from September to June/July of the following year, and application for admission into a calendar year typically opens a couple of months to resumption in September. The application period also only lasts a few months, after which it is suspended till the next year’s intake. Prospective candidates are advised to adhere strictly to stipulated timelines.
- Supporting documents: Universities in France require their applicants to submit certain documents like university transcripts, health certificate, graduation certificate, letter of intent, and letters of reference to support their application for admission.
- Application fee: Application for admission is not free, in most cases.
The admissions procedure is categorized into two: for EU candidates, and for non-EU candidates.
a) For EU Candidates:
If you are a prospective candidate and you are from/currently reside in an EU country, you must first complete an online application for admission via the website of the specific university that you selected. Alternatively, you may physically pick up the application package at the school. You must fill out the application form to the best of your ability. The form typically consists of a few sections, namely: personal information, academic information, work experience/history, and one or two others. In most cases, you will also be asked a couple of essay questions as part of the application. These questions help the university to get to know you better, to determine your level of suitability for the program you selected, your aspirations for the future, and your motivation for deciding to study in the specific university.
Asides information you provide, the application process also demands that you submit a few documents to support your application. These documents typically include: transcripts of last educational institution attended, certificate from last educational institution attended, official passport photograph, proof of language proficiency (check with the school to see if you are exempted from providing this), and a few other documents. The certificate must be provided by the intending student while the transcripts are to be sent directly from the school to the one being applied to, either via mail or fax.
Again, this list is not exhaustive, and some universities may require some more information and documents that are not captured here.
Most importantly, you will be required to pay an application fee. Most universities in France charge a small administrative fee for applications, and this fee must be paid at the point of submitting the application. If the fee is not paid, the application will not be processed.
b) For non-EU candidates:
Non-EU candidates are those individuals who are citizens of countries outside of the European Union, who do not also live permanently within Europe. The first step in your application is to fill the application form as an international student online, via the website of the school you have chosen. In some cases, the form will be made available in downloadable format for you to download, print, and mail back. The form typically includes a few sections, namely: personal information, academic information, work experience/history, and one or two others. You will also be asked a couple of essay questions as part of the application. These questions help the university to get to know you better, to determine your level of suitability for the program you selected, your aspirations for the future, and your motivation for deciding to study in their university.
Supporting documents include: educational transcripts (sent directly from your previous school), copy of birth certificate, copy of data page of your international passport, passport size photograph, proof of language proficiency (either English or French, depending on your course of study and the study medium available in that university).
There is also an application fee for you to pay, and it is often higher than what is required for EU students. Most importantly, non-EU candidates may be asked to provide proof of financial capacity to fund their education from start to finish if they are admitted. They do not tolerate debtors, and they want ensure that no admitted student will drop out due to lack of finances.
In both cases, the most important elements of the procedure are the application form (which must be submitted within the allotted application window), the supporting documents, and the application fee.
Once you have decided on an intended course of study, and you have chosen your preferred university, apply for admission immediately the application window opens. Before hand, check the school/program website to see which specific documents they require from applicants and get them ready alongside your application fee. Also, while filling the application form, be wary of errors. DO NOT FILL THE FORM HURRIEDLY, that is why you are advised to start early to allow enough time to fill it. The essay questions and letter of intent are very critical to your application. Let each answer be thought-through and let every word of your response be intentional.
Finally, when applying you may be asked if you want to be considered for financial aid. If you want this, you should select appropriately; otherwise, skip to submit your application and pay the fee. Once you have submitted successfully, you should receive an email from the university acknowledging receipt of your application.
Candidates from EU-member states and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are not required to obtain visas for entry or study in France. However, students from outside of France and non-EU countries need to obtain a visa to enter the country and remain for the duration of their studies. However, in certain exceptional cases, a visa waiver can be issued. For context, individuals from the below-listed countries do not require a visa if they are studying at an institution in France for a period less than three months:
- Antigua & Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
- Moldova (visa waiver is only for holders of biometric passports )
- El Salvador
- United States
- Vatican City
So, if your country is not listed here and your program runs for a duration of less than three months, you must obtain a short-term stay visa. Conversely, you must also obtain a long-stay visa if you will be staying in France for a period longer than three consecutive months.
For regular degree programs, international students are required to obtain a study visa once they have been accepted into a French University. The VLS-TS visa allows students to reside and study in France and also work up to 20 hours per week during their stay.
Visa requirements are relative to the country of the applicant. The visa cost is relative, costing between 99 euros and 110 euros. However, once obtained, it allows for study, and also for easy transit to and from other Schengen countries. To obtain this visa, candidates must check with the French Embassy in their home country for detailed information about requirements and procedures. Typically, candidates must complete the visa application form and submit passport photographs, proof of educational or professional qualifications, police report showing that the candidate has no criminal record, proof of language proficiency, and proof of financial capacity to fund their education in France. In some cases the candidate may be required to undergo a medical examination before or after arriving in France.
Proof of Financial Capacity to Fund Education
Time and again, this phrase will come up in your application process. It will be a huge mistake to assume that ‘financial capacity’ only refers to your ability to pay your tuition fees. Tuition fee is relatively cheap, but there are additional costs and ancillary fees that might make the overall expected expenses high; in some cases, even higher than what is obtainable in some other climes. Living costs alone can change the dynamics of your educational budget significantly, and when the French Embassy or your intended University talks about you providing proof of financial capacity, they mean proof of funds to cover every single thing you will ever need money for while you are studying, without working. Things like accommodation, books, sports, food, health insurance, transport, clothing, and etcetera are important costs you must take into consideration. Below is a breakdown of the estimated costs and living expenses that the average student requires to be able to study in France. Please note that these are estimates, and are only to be used to give an idea of your expected expenses, so as to guide your budget planning.
Cost of Living:
Much unlike other European countries, the cost of living in France is considerably high. However, students with proof of studentship are often offered subsidized rates on transportation and feeding costs. Specialized accommodation for international students is also available.
There are three major accommodation options for students to choose from, namely: School Accommodation, Private Apartments, Homestay.
School accommodation in France costs an average of 120 euros per month. However, competition is high and the spaces are limited. In fact, students on exchange programs and those on scholarships are often given priority when the university accommodation is being allocated. On the other hand, a private apartment in the main cities costs from 460 euros and upwards, depending on the features in each apartment. Houses in the small towns are considerably cheaper than those in the big cities.
The last accommodation option available is the Homestay. Depending on the location and feaures, Homestays range from 200 – 800 euros per month, and they offer at least one meal a day for the student.
Additionally, eligible students can apply for a grant for free from the Caisse d’Allocation Familiale (CAF). with this grant, students can get back up to 35% of their monthly rent, which could be used to offset other bills.
Other living costs include:
Utilities (electricity, gas, internet) – 60 euros per month
Study and academic materials – 50 euros
Transport pass – 70 euros
Groceries – 250 euros
Gym membership – 40 euros
Meals – 12 euros (on average)
Total: 482 euros per month
With this estimate, students can expect to spend not less than 5,784 euros per year for basic subsistence and living costs. With this in mind, students should prepare to demonstrate financial capacity to be able to afford roughly 7,000 euros per year (including tuition) to support their education. This could even be considerably higher in some cities, and students’ personal spending habits and the nature of the program could also influence the eventual figure.
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