France welcomes 412,000 international students

Published 10/04/2024

The number of international students studying in France has exceeded 412,000, making up 14% of the country’s students, latest statistics show.

In the academic year 2022/23, some 412,087 international students were enrolled in French higher education institutions, a 3% increase in the last year and a 17% increase over five years.

At the global level, France maintains its spot as the sixth most popular host country for international students.

“Overcoming the bar of 412,000 international students in France is essential for us, especially after the long season marked by the Covid-19 crisis,” a spokesperson for Campus France told The PIE.

“In reality our numbers have been increasing since 2021/22. This is the result of the French government’s open-door policies regarding the reception of foreign students and researchers.

“This success motivates us to continue working to get closer to the goal of 500,000 international students established in the national strategy ‘Bienvenue en France’.”

Campus France presented its key figures on student mobility for 2024, tracking the latest developments in international education for the country with plans to welcome 500,000 international students by 2027.

The largest contingent of international students in France come from Sub-Saharan Africa, who make up 24% of the country’s international student body with 95,285 students from the region enrolled in French institutions. This figure has seen an increase of 34% over the last five years.

Closely followed is the country’s international students from North Africa – a total of 91,865 students, who make up 23% of all international students.

The number of students from Asia and Oceania regions together has remained high – 51,992 in 2022/2023, a result Campus France puts down to the increase in the number of Indian students, compensating for a 15% decrease in mobile Chinese students over the last five years.

When it comes to countries of origin, Morocco sent the most students to France, with 45,162 students enrolled in 2022/23, followed by Algeria with 32,147.

China makes the top three list of sending countries, despite its decrease, with 25,605 students enrolled.

Some 21 of the top 25 sending countries increased in 2022/23, with a particularly strong increase in the number of Italian, Spanish, Lebanese, Congolese and Indian students.

The number of Lebanese students in France sits at 11, 527 – an increase of 10% over one year and 103% over the last five years.

The number of Ukrainian students studying in France has also doubled in one year, an increase of +111%, linked to the continuation of the war, said Campus France.

“I would say that France is truly a melting pot, we receive students from all over the world. Our universities are therefore very culturally diverse. This multiculturalism strengthens us and, above all, makes us proud,” the Campus France spokesperson told The PIE.

They highlighted the country’s quality-price ratio – a bachelor’s degree costing €2,770 per year for a non-European student, €170 for a European student. A master’s degree costs €3,770 for a non-European student, while €243 for a European.

“Compared to the United States, United Kingdom, Canada or Australia, our universities are much less expensive,” the spokesperson said.

They went on to note France’s “increasingly present” position in international rankings, as well as ecosystem “very favourable” to entrepreneurship.

One attractive quality of a French higher education is an emphasis on employability,

Luciana Radut-Gaghi, vice president of international relations and strategic partnerships at CY Cergy Paris University, spoke to The PIE about why she believes France is an attractive offer to international students, highlighting institutions’ links with the job market through apprenticeships and internship programs.

“At the end of two years of masters, students have two years of job experience and they have their degree and that is very valuable because they are employees ready to take positions in companies,” Radut-Gaghi told The PIE.

At CY Cergy Paris University, 17.94% of students are international, with the main origin countries being China, Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Cameroon and Italy.

CY is one institution which hasn’t yet seen a significant increase in students from India, but Radut-Gaghi said this could change with the introduction of international classes – a new format set to be introduced in order to facilitate the integration of non-French-speaking Indian students into the French higher education system.

Although Radut-Gaghi said that not everyone in the French sector is on board with this example of France’s slight tilt to English-taught programs, she believes that with adequate training for French teachers, it could be a positive factor for the country’s internationalisation efforts.

President of France Emmanuel Macron announced last year a new goal for the country to welcome 30,000 Indian students by 2030, as part of the latest Franco-Indian road map.

Campus France’s figures showed that in the 2022/23 academic year, 6,986 Indian students studied in France, an 11% increase over one year.

The report also collated data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics to show the destinations most popular for French students in recent years. The data showed that in 2021, Belgium took the top spot by welcoming 19,063 French students.

The UK followed, welcoming 14,042 French students in the same year.

Radut-Gaghi noted the significance of the top two countries for outbound mobility being in Europe, as well as increased interest in European countries.

Students at CY are increasingly are putting sustainability at the heart of their mobility choices, she indicated.

In 2021, Portugal saw a 28% increase in student numbers from France over one year, and a staggering 454% increase over five.

“We really have these young people saying they don’t want to leave their carbon footprint on the earth”

Meanwhile, although Canada remained the third destination choice for French students, it saw a decrease of 28% over one year, and a 16% decrease over five.

Similarly, the US saw a 19% decrease over one year and a 23% decrease over five.

“I think the pandemic opened the eyes of students everywhere about what it means to travel long-distance abroad. I think this sustainability awareness among students, it’s quite important,” said Radut-Gaghi.

“We really have these young people saying they don’t want to leave their carbon footprint on the earth. It’s something that they are very aware of.”

Radut-Gaghi said that her university is increasingly trying to encourage students to go to Sub-Saharan African countries with which French embassies have strong programs of cross-mobility.

The post France welcomes 412,000 international students appeared first on The PIE News.