Overview

The French Republic lies in northwestern Europe, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the Alps, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Pyrenees. This vibrant and ethnically diverse country has a far-reaching influence not only in Europe but also the entire world.

France

The country plays a big role in international affairs, which is a huge draw for post-graduate foreign students, especially those looking to study International Relations or start a career in international organizations. French educational institutions are world-class quality, making France a dream study abroad destination for many international students.

Currency: Euro (EUR)
Population: 67,000,000
GDP per Capita: $45,893
Total area: 543,965 sq km

Why Study in France?

Climate and Weather

France has an overall temperate climate. Western France has a great Atlantic temperate climate while Brittany in the westernmost has high rainfall from October to November.
Paris and the north and central regions experience cool winters with some rainfall and warm, but not scorching, summers. The Alsace-Lorraine, Massif Central and the Pyrenees are France’s mountainous and snowy regions. The areas along the Mediterranean Sea experience some mild winters and extremely hot summers.

Quality of Life

France is ranked 12th in the 2020 Overall Best Countries Ranking in the world. In the OECD Better Life Index, the country ranks above average in many aspects such as income, housing, social connections, personal security and education, among others.

Academic Excellence Ranking

France’s excellent education system makes it a top choice for aspiring international students. The country has 10 institutions that are in the top 300, according to the 2021 QS World University Rankings. International students are assured of high-quality education no matter what degree or programme they choose.

Safety and Security

France is a safe country with a low crime rate. About 71% of the people say they feel safe walking home alone at night. The homicide rate is one of the lowest in the world, according to the OECD Better Life Index.
Most universities also have their own campus security and are equipped with CCTV cameras and other security measures.

Cultural Diversity

France is home to migrants from all corners of the globe. Its international student population is just as diverse. They come from Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Asia. This vibrant, multicultural atmosphere further enriches the experience of studying in France.
French is the official language and the most common medium of instruction. Although, in most universities, some programmes may also be offered in English. Nevertheless, proficiency in the French language is a must.
Most international students take language classes before they begin their studies. This not only helps them in their classes, but also gives them a better understanding and appreciation of the country culture and history.

Recreational Activities

There’s no dull day in France for international students. They can enjoy art, the sciences, and history by visiting the many museums. They can partake of culture in cinemas, theatres, and restaurants.

A myriad of sports are also available, but it may come with fees if it includes access to clubs with the appropriate equipment. For fitness, going for a run in the country’s many parks and beautiful streets is always free!

Application Process

Prerequisites

A French student visa is required for non-EU and non-EEA nationals. Before applying, you should first check your eligibility and go over the actual processes. If you belong to a country that is supported by the "Etudes en France" procedure, you need to create an account on the site and they will help you with your pre-registration process with top universities in France.
Help is available even during the preparation of visa requirements. However, for those who must process their visas by themselves, the first step is applying to the university of your choice.
Once approved, you will receive an acceptance letter that you will need to present for your visa application.
You may also need to take a language proficiency test, depending on the medium of instruction of your programme. Courses are usually taught in either in French or English. For courses taught in French, you must pass any of the following language tests: DELF/DALF or TCF. For courses taught in English, you must pass any of the following tests: IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic, or C1 Advanced.

There are different types of student visas:
  • Schengen Student Visa (short-stay visa)
    • For courses not exceeding 90 days
    • Non-renewable
  • Temporary Long-stay Visa
    • For courses that will take up 6 months to complete
  • Long-Stay Visa (VLS-TS)
    • For courses that exceed 6 months.
    • Visa period will depend on how long the course will take (some bachelor’s degree may take up to 3 years to finish).
    • Doubles as a residence permit until you finish your long-term course.
  • Visa for Entrance Exams
    • This is issued to those who need to sit in a university in France for an entrance exam.
    • If you pass the entrance exam, you will be eligible to apply for a renewable 1-year residence permit.
Prepare the following documents for visa application:
  • Valid passport
  • Copies of previous visas, if any
  • Medical insurance
  • Proof of your financial means to cover living expenses abroad
  • Airline ticket/reservation that shows the date of departure
  • Proof showing accommodation arrangements covering the entire study period

Student Visa Application

The official online visa portal where you will be starting your application for the student visa can be found in France-Visas. After all necessary information has been entered and all documents uploaded, you will be scheduled for an appointment at the designated embassy.

The visa fees may differ based on your nationality. In some countries, there is an option to have your passport delivered to your home once a decision has been made.

However, for those who do not have this option, you must get the visa from the assigned visa centre. The visa application processing may take up to 3 weeks.

Travel Checklist

After your visa gets approved, the next focus is the preparation of things needed for study in France. It is recommended to check the portal of the General Directorate of Customs and Indirect Rights. The total amount that you can bring into France undeclared should not reach a total amount of €10,000.00.

Money may be in the form of cash, cheques, shares, bonds, securities, or valuables. If you need to declare the amount, you must download and fill out the form on the portal. The easiest way to submit this is by logging into the Dalia site and uploading the document there. However, you may also print out the document and give it to the French Customs at the time of your entry.

Arrival in France for Long-Term Visa

If you were given the VLS-TS visa you must validate your visa within the first 3 months of your stay. This is important as this acts as your residence permit and by doing so, you will not be forced to get a new visa after you have already stayed for three months in France.

Tuition and Other Expenses

France is known to have a high cost of living and school fees. Given that the country boasts of excellent quality education, studying in France is worth the money. Preparing a budget per year basis is recommended to avoid future problems. Below is the estimated yearly expenses for your reference:

  • Tuition fees
    • Private university: yearly tuition may range from as low as €1,500.00 or may be more than €20,000.00.
    • Business school: yearly tuition may range from as low as €5,000.00 or may reach up to €30,000.00.
  • Living and accommodations
    Expense Type Cost Euro (€) per year
    Accommodation 6,474.00
    Food 3,237.00
    Essentials & Entertainment 1,245.00
    Transportation 448.20
    Total 11,404.20

Financial Assistance and Work Options

The government allows students with a VLS-TS visa to work for 20 hours per week as long as the job does not interfere with their studies. After graduation, if the student is able to convert his visa to a work permit, he can finally work full time for up to two years in the country.

International working students are entitled to receive payment for work rendered. The government requires all establishments that the pay for working students should not fall below the hourly minimum wage.

For those who want to avail themselves of scholarship opportunities in France, look into those offered in different universities and colleges.

The French Foreign Ministry provides the Eiffel scholarship program to the best international students who want to pursue post-graduate programs. An allowance of €1,181 is awarded to master’s courses, while €1,400 for PhD courses.

On top of that, scholarship holders are covered with health insurance, as well as expenses on return trips, accommodation, and cultural activities. However, tuition fees are not covered.Based on social criteria such as living in France for two years, The French Ministry of Higher Education also offers scholarships. An example would be financing doctoral contracts by Doctoral institutions. Other universities also offer these scholarships:

  • Ecole Normale Supérieure International Selection
  • Ampere Scholarships of Excellence at ENS de Lyon
  • Emile Boutmy Scholarships at Sciences Po University
  • Université Paris-Saclay International Master’s Scholarships
  • Grenoble Institute of Technology Foundation Scholarships
  • HEC Paris MBA Scholarships

Students who are pursuing doctoral and post-doctoral degrees can have financial aid for research under institutes of higher education and public organisations such as:

  • National Centre for Scientific Research
  • Institute for Research and Development
  • Environmental and Energy Control Agency
  • French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea