Bonjour. Comment ça va? Okay that’s about the extent of my French. But you get the point. Today’s post is about France, no, not the French language! About studying in France! The lovely and sophisticated France attracts around 300,000 international students from both EU and non-EU countries each year. That makes France the 4th largest destination for international students.
France is also the first non-English speaking country on the list. A viable reason for France’s popularity is that their universities have lower tuition fees compared to other European countries.
Before you decide on moving to France to study, here are 25 things you probably did not know about studying in France.
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Table of Contents
1. Prepare for long queues and bureaucracies
The French are renowned for their ‘we’ll-do-it-tomorrow’ approach to bureaucracy. If you’re looking to get anything done quickly, you’ll be in for a long wait. Whilst this may be frustrating, arriving prepared can often speed up the process. Remember to bring spare passport photos and multiple copies of any important documents.
2. Learn some French
A lot of people in France speak English, but why miss on a golden opportunity to learn one of the most widely spoken languages in the world?
3. You can work and study
With your residency permit, you would be allowed to work for up to 20 hours a week. You would also earn the minimum wage which is around €9.6 per hour. You would have to be in the first year of your degree to be eligible however.
4. France Universities rank high globally
Three universities in France are among the best 100 globally. There are five French universities in the world’s top 200. The best university in France is the Paris Science et Lettres-PSL Research University Paris, which ranks 45 globally on the Times Higher Education rankings.
5. Classes can be taught in French, English or both.
You don’t have to worry about being lost during lectures because of language barrier. Depending on your choice, your classes could either be in French, English or both. Choose the one that best suits you.
6. A local bank account will help you avoid foreign transaction fees
Opening a local bank account should be top of your to-do list. This will help you avoid stacking up unwanted foreign transaction fees and numerous ATM withdrawal costs. In France, however, bank account queries are run on an appointment only basis, so remember to book in nice and early to avoid long wait.
7. You can travel to 26 European countries with your student visa!
As an international student from outside the EU, you may need the VLS-TS visa (“étudiant”). The visa not only entitles you to live and study in France, but you can also work up to 964 hours per year (20 hours per week). The visa also offers you free movement in the countries of the Schengen area. This is a great chance to explore countries like Germany, Spain, Switzerland and many more. You will not be able to travel to the UK however, as it is not a party to the Schengen agreement.
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8. Enjoy the culture
France is undoubtedly a beautiful country. Choosing to study there means being able to appreciate local history and culture every day of the week. For EU students under the age of 26, entry is free to most major museums, galleries, and historical attractions. So get your cameras ready and don’t pass up this guaranteed great way to explore on a budget!
9. Tuition fees are moderate
Compared to their counterparts in Europe and North America, universities in France charge moderate tuition fees. In a public university in France tuition fees for Bachelor’s degree go for as low as €2,770 per year. Masters degree cost €3,770 while a doctorate degree cost €380. These are however, only obtainable in public universities. In private institutions, tuition fees can range from €3000-€20,000 per year.
10. Scholarships are available for international students
Eiffel Excellence Scholarship, Emily Boutmy Scholarships at Sciences Po University, École Normale Supérieure International scholarship among others are just some of the many scholarships available to international students who want to study in France. Visit www.afterschoolafrica.com to explore more scholarships in France.
11. Scholarships can be revoked
Breaking the law, performing below expected academic performance or engaging in criminal activity can cost you your scholarship and even your admission.
12. Most of the Universities are in and around Paris
Some of the best universities in France are in Paris with the best five being in the city. Cities like Lyon, Toulose and Grenoble are also home to some of France’s elite universities.
13. Arrange your own accommodation
Most universities in France will offer some sort of accommodation to incoming students. Whilst this may sound like the best option, it would be advisable to do your research first. University accommodation can often be dirty, damp, and downright unpleasant. Look for your own accommodation but make sure to pay attention to details like location, rent and utilities.
14. Health Insurance is required
All international students studying in France are required to be covered by health insurance, either public or private. Many international students are eligible to take part in France’s universal health care coverage. This depends on factors such as age, country of origin, and the length of your degree program.
15. Life isn’t cheap in France
The overall living costs in France depend on your lifestyle. Most of all, they depend on the French city you live in. Living in Paris cost around €1200-1800 per month. In Nice, living costs range from €900-1000. In the rest of France you could make do with €650 per month.
16. France is dotted with beautiful landscapes
France is the largest country in Western Europe, so expect a dazzling range of landscapes. France has some of the best beaches you will find anywhere. Inland there are mighty rivers, great mountain ranges like the Pyrenees and the Alps, and canals that crisscross the country linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.
17. Applications for university are available twice a year
There is admission in fall (February 1 and April 1) and in spring (September 15). After these dates admission are only given based on available spaces.
18. You can receive financial aid while you study
All students (EU and non-EU citizens) have the opportunity to apply and pursue financial aid resources while in France. To benefit from the French financial aid system, you are required to create an account with the CAF (Caisses d’Allocations Familiales).
19. Paris has great transport system
Paris has a great metro, bus and bicycle rental system. Most of the time, you can get wherever you need to go within 20 minutes. Learn the basics of the Metro and experiment with the bus—you won’t regret it. And if you like biking, definitely check out Velib, Paris’s bicycle share. You can rent a bike for a day, a week, or even a year.
20. There were 343,000 foreign students in France in 2018
According to the most recent statistics published by Campus France, an online portal run by the French government of the roughly five million international students in the world in 2018, 343,000 of them studied in France. With nearly 7 percent of the total, France ranks behind the United States, United Kingdom and Australia but remains first in terms of non-English speaking destinations.
21. Nearly half are from Africa
46% of the international student population in France is from Africa. While this may seem surprising, it shouldn’t given that most of former French colonies are in Africa.
22. Weather patterns in France differ by regions
France generally enjoys cool winters and mild summers. The Mediterranean areas are an exception as mild winters and hot summers is the norm. Average winter temperatures range from 32° F to 46° F and average summer temperatures from 61° F to 75° F. For the most warmth and sunshine go to the south of the country.
23. Masters graduates can apply to live and work in France
International students graduating from a French university with a master’s level and higher can apply to the “AUTORISATION PROVISOIRE DE SEJOUR” (APS). This document will allow you to stay up to 12 months in France to look for a job. After graduation, you will need to book an appointment online and bring the final certificate of completion of studies provided by EURECOM to receive your APS.
24. IELTS is required but not for all schools
Schools like the American Business School, Paris, EBS Paris, EPITA Graduate School of Computer Science and ESAIP School of Engineers are just some of the many colleges in France that do not demand IELTS.
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25. France is the 3rd largest country in Europe
With a land mass of 551,695km France is the largest country in Western Europe. It is also the third largest after Russia and Ukraine in the whole of Europe.
There you have it, the 25 things you did not know about studying in France. Which one of the points struck you the most? Tell us about it in the comments section. If you are yet to subscribe to the After School Africa channel, now is a good time to subscribe. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS.