With nearly three lakh international students, France, with its potpourri of artists, writers and thinkers, is steadily extending its educational arms. Consider this: The number of Indian students in France has grown by 50% in the last five years.
Sapna Sachdeva, National coordinator of Campus France, credits simplified visa rules alongwith a wide range of scholarships for this rise.
In this series, #Eye on the Globe, we present you France as a destination for education. Find all your answers regarding France- the best colleges, top courses, admission cycle and how much you need to invest to get a high- quality degree from the country.
Below are the edited excerpts from the interview with Sapna Sachdeva
Q: Could you give us an estimate of the number of Indian students in France? Has the number of Students going to France increased or decreased over the years?France ranks second among the countries of continental Europe behind Germany to welcome Indian students. Over the past five years, the number of Indian students in France grew by 50%, reaching today nearly to 3000 students. This increase is partly due to external factors like overall increase in the number of Indian students, higher education costs in the Anglo-Saxon countries, wide range of scholarships across a bouquet of academic disciplines. Also, visa rules have been made easier and students can now stay for an additional year in the country after completing their course.
Q: How is France as a destination for education? Why should students opt France as a destination for their UG/PG studies?For its quality of education: France owes its economic success to its research capacity and to its achievements in the fields of space, transportation, electronics, telecommunications, chemistry, biotechnology, health and mathematics.
France’s diversified network of more than 3,500 higher education institutions, both public and private, and its internationally renowned research centers deliver top-notch academic programmes. The network comprises 77 universities and 26 PRES (clusters of universities and research centres), more than 200 engineering schools, 200 schools of business and management, 120 public art schools and 20 schools of architecture. In addition, more than 3,000 specialized institutions provide instruction in specific sectors, such as tourism, gastronomy, fashion, design etc.
International environment: With nearly 280,000 international students making up 12% of total postsecondary enrollments, France remains the fourth-most-popular destination for internationally mobile students after the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Feel welcomed in one of the famous institutions of higher education, from the Sorbonne in Paris founded in 1179 to the high-tech campus of the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
Cost of studies: France devotes 1.4% of its GDP to higher education, a level of financing that ensures the quality and recognition of French degrees. France’s central government defrays a very large share of the true cost of education at public institutions (between â¬10,000 and â¬14,000 per student per year), thereby reducing the student’s tuition burden (e.g. tuition fee of Bachelor’s programmes in a public university in 2013-2014 is â¬183 per year). Since, tuition fees at France’s public institutions are among the lowest in the world, and that both international and local students enjoy the same benefits and social welfare in France, the value of the high-quality French degrees becomes even more remarkable.
Cost of living: Same as French students, international students in France enjoy lower prices and special assistance in many aspects of daily life,eg. the national health-care system (social security), rent subsidies, legal right to work part-time (up to 964 hours per year, i.e. 60% of full-time employment), subsidised public transportation, restaurants, museums and cultural events, etc. Taking into account these discounts, the average monthly student budget is â¬800 - â¬1,000 per month in Paris and â¬600 - â¬800 per month elsewhere in the country with everything included (rent, meals, transportation, leisure, etc.).
Q: Tell us about the admission cycle in France?In France, the academic year begins in September or October and ends in May or June. The exact starting and ending dates vary from institution to institution and from programme to programme. There are several breaks during the year: 2 weeks in December-January for Christmas and the New Year, 2 weeks in February for winter break and 2 weeks in late March–early April for the Easter break. Summer vacation stretches over the entire months of July and August, and sometimes includes parts of June and September as well.
Q: Which are the most preferred universities among Indian students?For engineering and sciences : l’Ecole Polytechnique, INSA Lyon, INSA Toulouse Ecoles des Mines, Ecoles Centrale, \UniversitÃ© Joseph Fourier, UniversitÃ© Catholique de Lille, UniversitÃ© Paris 11. For economics and management: HEC, INSEAD, ESSEC, ESCP Europe, EM Lyon, IESEG
Political sciences: Sciences PO Paris
Others: LE Cordon Bleu, Vattel, EICAR,
Q: How does the French education system provide an edge over the Indian system?There are two different types of education institutes for international students. You can choose from Universities and Grande Ecoles. Admission and promotion is through a system of merit-based examinations. Thus, intellectually qualified students are ensured a fair chance of pursuing their educational goals, regardless of their financial or social status.
The French education is a relevant mix of practical and theory. The duty of school is not only to give a common knowledge or prepare for a job but also to form the citizen of tomorrow by helping the student to develop a critical thought to be able to solve problems. Students have tests every month for which they can learn by heart, but they also have to use their knowledge through essay tests, presentations and practicals.
Q: Which are most preferred courses for international students in France? What about Indian students?France has always been a favorite destination for thinkers, scientists, artists, writers from all over the world and many have made it their home. The rich cultural diversity and heritage reflected in everyday life, the high quality of education as also the French state’s commitment towards welcoming international students make it an attractive destination for higher education. Therefore, whether it is science and engineering, law, economics, political science, journalism, architecture, design, fine arts or management studies, there is a rich variety of programmes to choose from. A large number of courses are taught in English with complementary language learning courses as part of the curriculum. Foreign language skills are a distinct asset in the new global order and a study sojourn in France is an excellent way to acquire it.
Many Indians and other international students appreciate the broad selection of majors at French institutions. They specially go for studies related to management, engineering and political science as masters level, which are being taught in English in more and more institutes.
Q: What is the government doing to promote France among Indian students?Visa facilitation: In July 2013, Ambassador FranÃ§ois Richier decided to facilitate travel to France for all Indian citizens residing in India who have studied in France. Indian citizens who have graduated from a French institution, applying for a tourist or business visa for a trip to France, are given a visa with a long period of validity – up to five years (subject to passport validity) if the studies in France were at the Master’s or PhD level. This visa allows applicants to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days, with a 90-day gap between stays. Indian alumni of Indo-French dual degree programmes are eligible to apply. Students who graduated before July 2013 can also apply for this visa as it is retroactive.
Admission tours (twice a year): Organized by the Embassy of France in India and Campus France, this event offers a unique opportunity to meet with some 20 top French Business and Engineering Institutes.This major event of the year is meant for those who are considering to pursue higher study in France. French representatives of the elite schools meet prospective candidates on a one-to-one basis. This includes a twenty-minute interview during which they have an insight of the trainings in line with their expectations in tune with the scholarship programmes they are eligible.
Pre-departure: Like every year, a Pre-Departure orientation session is organized for students who will be pursuing their training in France the coming academic year along with a scholarship award ceremony inaugurated by the Ambassador of France to India. This half-day programme covers various aspects relevant to those leaving for France, from the administrative procedures to be completed on their arrival in France to teaching methods used in French educational institutions, through inter-cultural aspects and other relevant matters such as the French Government Scholarship programmes.
The French Touch Tour: A new concept equivalent to the admission tour, but for specialized studies like design, fashion, hotel management, cooking etc is coming soon
Q: What is the cost of education in France?Tuition fees vary from institution to institution and also between courses. At university level, tuition fees vary from â¬ 250 to â¬ 750 per annum for a course leading to national degrees. You may have to pay approximately â¬ 490 for a course in public engineering schools. This figure is higher for private institutions (engineering and business schools) as they can charge you tuition fees of about â¬ 3 600 to â¬ 14,300 for a course.
Q: Scholarships play a key role in the choice of a programme abroad. However, with options galore, is there a mechanism which eases one’s search for financial needs?There are several ways to finance a period of study or research in France: grants and scholarships, aid and travel stipends.Campus France is in charge of all facets of grant and scholarship programmes for international students.
Every year, the French Embassy in India along with French companies award scholarships totaling up to 8 crores Indian rupees to more than 300 meritorious young Indian graduates who wish to pursue their higher education in France.
â¢ “Eiffel excellence grants” enable awardees to earn a master’s degree or, for doctoral candidates enrolled in dual-degree program, to travel for up to 10 months. Candidates are nominated by French institutions.Self-nominations are not accepted.
â¢ The “Quai d’Orsay–Entreprises”grant programme is funded through partnerships with several large French firms, including ThalÃ¨s, Orange and AirLiquide. The grants are intended for master’s-level students from emerging countries who are studying engineering, economics or management.
Housing assistance: International students, like French students, may be eligible for housing assistance.
There are two types of assistance, depending on the type of housing one occupies. The two forms of assistance, which cannot be combined, are social housing assistance (ALS, allocation de logement Ã caractÃ¨re social) and personal housing assistance (APL, aide personnalisÃ©e au logement). The amount of assistance varies with the rent to be paid and the student’s circumstances.
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Every University offers Merit based and need based scholarships to its students. Merit based scholarships are to those Candidates who have had an impeccable academic record. Need based scholarships are for those Candidates who need financial assistance to complete their studies. Now each University has its own criteria to offer scholarships. So you have to check their official websites.
The higher education system in Germany offers something for all students. Germany has approximately 450 universities accredited by the state and there are 17,500 programmes for degrees in the country. Almost every subject is catered by the universities at all academic levels. International students can study for their bachelors’, masters’ or even doctorates. Although most universities focus on scientific studies, it is possible to study art subjects at the top universities.
There are two taught programs in Germany.
Apart from minimum percentage criteria, German universities have many other requirements also. So you will need to check the requirements for your preferred course in the chosen university.
Basic requirements to study MS in Germany:
• You must have completed your bachelor's degree from a recognised university either in Germany or India. In case your certificate or diploma is not recognized, you should get it verified for comparison to a German diploma in order to gain access to higher education in Germany.
• You should have above 75% or 7.5 cgpa as the case may be to get admitted in a recognised university. Some universities also accept below 75% also.You must know German language upto C1 level. Some universities require up to B1, but C1 gives you the proficiency to converse well in the language.
•You will have to take TOEFL/IELTS for all the courses taught in English. Further, some courses might also require you to take up the GRE as well. I would recommend to give these exams as early as possible as if you don't get required marks, you can give it a second attempt.
• University may ask for a Statement of Purpose or a Letter of motivation. Try to start roughly jotting down some key points and start fine tuning and editing them early till you arrive at something you are satisfied with. Focus briefly on what you have done, what your career goals are and what motivates you to choose this path of studying. You should know these things.
•Try to get to know the specific requirements of the university for your preferred course. You can get the information on the website of the university or try contacting any counselor for the same.
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