Why Study in France?
To put it simply, the French higher education system is one of the best in the world. It is also one of the most accessible ones. With low tuition fees, studying in France is more economical for international students. French universities are near the top of renowned university rankings each year. Their institutions offer an education that easily competes with other countries.
France is particularly a good choice for those wanting to study business related subjects. The country is a hub for international business and management education, and has lots of business schools in the worldwide rankings.
France has 71 public universities and they are all funded by the national government, offering excellent education at a very affordable price to all students, domestic or international. There are also a number of private universities (grandes écoles). The academic year begins in September or October and ends in May or June, depending on the program and institution. There are two semesters, divided by a break following final examinations at the end of the first semester. There are two main types of courses offered at French universities: large lecture courses, where the professor speaks and students take notes, and sections & labs, designed for smaller groups of students where the material covered in lectures is explored in greater detail. Usually, attendance in sections & labs is mandatory. Some career-oriented programs also require internships and practical training.
When it comes to degrees, French universities use a format popular throughout EU: licence, master, doctorate. Licence refers to undergraduate studies and it lasts for 6 semesters (3 years), with 180 ECTS earned. Master studies last for an additional 4 semesters (2 years), for a total of 5 years of study and 300 ECTS earned. Doctorate can be obtained after the additional 6 semesters (3 years). It’s also important to know that every university has an internship referral system and a career services office. This means you will always know of the most recent internship and job opportunities available to you.
Cost of Studying & Living in France
France uses the Euro (€) for its currency. Tuition rates at public institutions are set by the government and they are very affordable. In fact, tuition rates at France’s public institutions of higher education are identical for domestic and international students.
Tuition costs are set every year. In 2017, average annual tuition costs for undergraduate studies were less than €200 (under US$250). For master’s studies, the rates are around €259 (around US$305) and for doctoral studies it’s around €393 (US$460). Students are often required to pay certain administration fees which raise tuition costs slightly. Despite these fees, studying in France remains one of the most affordable options for international students who seek a quality higher education.
These rates apply to public institutions only. If you wish to study at a private institution, the rates tend to be much higher and go up to €10,000 (US$12,000) per year.
There are also certain scholarships and mobility schemes available for those who wish to study abroad in France. Some of the most popular ones include grants from the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, funding made by National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), awards from regional councils, Erasmus and Erasmus Mundus programs.
Unlike tuition rates, costs of living in France tend to be higher than neighboring countries. Luckily, students are often eligible to subsidized rates at restaurants and transportation. There is also specialized housing for students which is available to international students who wish to study in France. Costs of living are lower in smaller towns, so this is something to keep in mind when deciding on where to study.
International students will have several choices for accommodation in France. You could live in university accommodation for around €120 per month. The demand for these is very high, however. Selection is based on social criteria and given to exchange or scholarship students. Renting a private studio apartment will cost around €457-€542. Homestay is another option for international students. This will cost around €200-€800 per month depending on the location. Homestay also includes at least one meal per day provided.
Students have the option to apply for a grant from their local Caisse d’Allocation Familiale (CAF). It is free to apply for, and if you are eligible you can get up to 35% of your rent back monthly.
Other living costs may include:
Electricity, gas, internet – €60 per month
Study materials – €50 per month
Travel card or transport pass – €70 per month
Return train ticket – €25 (in advance)
Groceries – €250 per month
Eating out – €12 on average
Gym membership – €38 per month
Many galleries and museums are free to people under the age of 26. France is one of the best countries for student discounts, so it is always worth asking about this when you go out.
If you wish to study in France, it’s important to inform yourself about all the possible visa requirements. French government regulates these issues and regulations depend on your citizenship.
For EU citizens and citizens of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, no visa is required.
Applicants from outside the EU: You will need to obtain a visa, which includes a residence permit (VLS-TS). It is valid for one year and can be renewed later if necessary. In order to obtain this visa you have to complete an application form as well provide OFII (the French Office of Immigration and Integration) passport photos, proof of your qualifications, a police certificate attesting that you don’t have a serious criminal record, proof you can speak French (if your course is in French) and proof that you have sufficient financial means. Once you arrive in France you will need to contact OFII (you may need to take a medical examination).
If you are from a country inside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and a holder of an EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) then you do not need to get health insurance. You will be able to access healthcare at the same places and same cost as local residents. If you are from a country outside of the EEA, you will need to purchase health insurance for your stay in France. This will cost around €20-€50 per month, depending on the cover.
International students will have to prove that they can financially support their studies. You should have around €7,400 per year in order to prove they can support themselves without working. However, international students are permitted to work up to 20 hours a week, so there are opportunities to earn more money.
Many French people speak languages other than their own. However, for effective communication and studying in France, you should know French. International students who are fluent in French have a much easier time with their studies and everyday life. If you feel your French is not good enough, there are many language courses available for the students who wish to perfect their language skills. Socialising with locals and making an effort to speak French is a good way to improve your language ability.
At the same time, you can study and communicate in English. However, international students are still encouraged to learn French and improve their language skills. Don’t take this as an obstacle but a challenge. Any sort of fluency in French will look great on a CV or resume!
In the event of your course being taught in French, you will need to prove that you are sufficiently fluent by taking one of the approved tests: TCF DAP (Test de Connaissance du Français, Demande d’Admission Préalable), DALF (diplôme approfondi de langue française) or CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). In case your course is in English, you should prove English language proficiency.
Many cities in France are homes to universities and other institutions of higher education. French cities are beautiful and atmospheric, so they provide unique experience to all international students.
It is easy to see why Paris is called the city of love. If nothing else, you’ll fall in love with the food and culture available. As a student, you’ll be studying in a culturally wealthy city, enhancing yourself both inside and outside of lectures. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and offers many opportunities to have a great time.
Paris is a major cultural center, with many attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe and world-famous galleries such as the Louvre or Musée d’Orsay. Students will have a chance to experience Paris to the fullest: it’s nightlife, picturesque streets and lovely cafes. Being the capital, Paris also benefits from excellent universities and institutions, many of which specialise in particular subjects. Living in Paris provides an excellent opportunity for all international students who wish to study at a prestigious institution while experiencing the city in all its beauty.
Lyon is located near France’s border with Italy and Switzerland. This beautiful medieval city is known as the culinary capital of France. It is also the most affordable city for students. The city has stunning architecture all visitors admire, particularly as Lyon’s well-preserved architecture has gained UNESCO World Heritage Status. International students who like nature and winter sports will like the proximity of the French Alps.
The city is known as one of France’s main financial centres and in addition to many interesting sites, Lyon has a lot to offer for those who seek higher education. It has 4 major universities: Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Université Claude Bernard Lyon, Université Lumière Lyon and Université Jean Moulin Lyon.
Lille is located in the north-west of France, and it serves as a great base for exploring the rest of the country as well as countries of Northern Europe. Lille was once known as one of the main industrial centres of France. In the recent years, the city has expanded its cultural scene and commercial aspects. If you wish to study in France, consider Lille: it offers many advantages of living in a smaller town. It has plenty of opportunities for education and it serves as a good base for international students. At the same time, it is not as busy or expensive as some of the larger cities, such as Paris.
Bordeaux is a famous port city in the south-western France. This is a capital of the wine industry and a home to the world’s greatest wine fair, Vinexpo. The city has a long history of wine production: Bordeaux wine has been produced in this region since the 8th century. The city is also known for its remarkable architecture, and the old part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Bordeaux is known as the City of Art and History and it’s home to one of Europe’s largest 18th century architectural urban areas.
Bordeaux offers plenty of opportunities for international students seeking higher education. The famous University of Bordeaux was originally created in the 15th century. Today, it has a student body of about 70,000 and it’s divided into 4 sectors: 1 for Maths, Physical sciences and Technologies, 2 for Medicine and Life sciences, 3 for Liberal Arts, Languages, Humanities and History and 4 for Law, Economy and Management. There is also the Institute of Political Sciences of Bordeaux.
Sitting on the banks of the River Garonne, Toulouse is the fourth-largest city in France. Nicknamed la Ville Rose (‘the Pink City’), the city has a unique architecture made up of pinkish terracotta bricks. Toulouse boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Canal du Midi, and the Basilica of St. Sernin, the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe.
Located in the city are several higher education institutions. The University of Toulouse is one of the oldest in Europe, and was founded in 1229. You will also find Toulouse Business School, Toulouse School of Economics, and INSA Toulouse in the city, among many others.
An international student cannot work more than 964 hours/year. During term-time, part-time employment (i.e. maximum of 19.5 hours/week) is permitted. During holidays, you can work full-time.
Rules and Guidelines for Working while Studying
When you decide to Study in France, you are bound to wonder about the many rules regarding the part-time work options in France for International Students. Hence, before we list out the many possibilities open, here’s what the laws suggest and how much you can earn while studying in France.
- An international student from outside of European Union, which is what Nepali students are, can work for a maximum of 964 hours in any given year provided,
- The university they are working for does not have any objection to the same
- The student has a valid residency permit
- Students do not need to obtain temporary employment authorization any more. The residency permit has the inbuilt clause for the same.
- All students in France, including the students enrolled in the first year of university as well as students enrolled in a language program, are eligible to work in France.
- The minimum wage rule applies to all working students. The minimum hourly wage rate is set at €9.76 per hour (before taxes). After reducing the same, the student makes somewhere around €7.61 per hour.
- Cumulatively, a student can earn somewhere around €7900 per year. Though this is not enough to compensate for the high cost of living, it is surely a handy pocket allowance.
- A student can also apply for and get employment at the university s/he is studying in or any other higher institute/ university. Students at a university are offered a contract for one year that covers the period of 1 September through 31 August. The time is split in the manner
- Maximum of 670 hours in the period between 1 September and 30 June (part-time)
- Up to 300 hours between July 1 and August 31 (full time)
It is important to remember that some courses might have an in-built internship. These programs usually do not allow students to take up part-time work. Irrespective of the laws, if the program does not permit a student to work part-time, you cannot work. It is, hence, important to check with the University regarding the same.
Kinds of Jobs
Talking about the kind of employment opportunities available to students, they are pretty standard.
- Assistantship at the University
A student can apply for a get a research assistantship or a graduate assistantship with the university. These jobs are usually open to masters/ research scholars. The job includes assisting the professors which could include taking tutorials, assisting in the research, writing the literature, etc.
- Other jobs at the university
A student can also apply and work at the university’s international office or the marketing office or any of the available positions. These positions are regularly posted on the notice board. Also, as mentioned above, these are offered for a 1-year tenure. Students joining in the month of January would have to wait till September for the same. This timing needs to be kept in check.
- Other jobs at café’s, etc.
Students can always take up a variety of jobs outside. Paris is the café capital of the world and there’s enough need for people in these café and restaurants. Likewise, students can take up part-time employment in shops, markets, and even businesses. The knowledge of the English language adds to the employability of international students.
So, take your pick. Whether it is a job at the mall, or the supermarket or indeed the corner café, no matter which you choose, you are sure to live the famous French life. These jobs are a great opportunity for students to improve their language skills, network with locals and also earn that extra pocket allowance to enjoy their time in one of the prettiest countries of the world. Furthermore, with improved Post Study Work Permits for Indian students, Universities in France offer an added advantage to study abroad aspirants.