Why study in France?
- Being so close to the UK means that, compared to other countries, France doesn't take too long - or cost too much - to travel to
- It's possible to study some courses in English, so you don't have to be entirely fluent in French
- 83 of France's universities are funded by the national government so students can get an excellent education at an affordable price
France's education system
In terms of the education system as a whole, French universities are very similar to UK ones. You can study for the following qualifications:
- License - Undergraduate degree, the equivalent of a Bachelors, to be completed in three years
- Masters - A postgraduate degree, studied for after a License or Bachelors, in two years
- Doctorate - A research based postgraduate qualification which takes about 3 years to complete
However, it's once you're actually studying the degree that things become different. Anyone who has obtained A Levels, a Baccalauréat or secondary school certificate can enroll at a public university, however, there are limited places for second year and so the end of first year exams are very competitive.
The academic year is another way by which the French university system is similar to the UK; the autumn semester is the first to start in late September and is then followed by a holiday around Christmas and New Year. Following this, the second semester starts in early February and lasts until July when there is a 3 month break. While some universities may have a break around Easter, not all do. Each semester usually ends with exams.
You’ll also find French universities are run in a very different way; they are on a much tighter budget and less concerned about prestige. As a result, less are in the worldwide Top 100 rankings but this could be because they don’t have the research funding that a lot of top universities have. Instead of concentrating on small groups of research students, their aim is to educate as many students as possible and ensure they have a good degree.
The types of subjects taught in France differ from the UK in some ways but are similar in others. While most subjects are still taught, including geography, sociology, linguistics, sciences and business, some of these may be taught slightly differently. Economics for example, is often taught in a more theoretical way than in the UK, and science degrees cover a broader range of topics - which means that the course, first year in particular, can be a lot more difficult.
Other subjects are a good idea for certain careers, while some should probably be avoided. Law, for example, isn't such a good idea to study, unless you specifically want to go into international law. However other popular courses, such as medicine and engineering, are fine to study but can get very competitive due to the limited number of second year places - be prepared to work very hard!
Arts degrees, such as lettres and french history, are good choices if you want to really improve your French and become bilingual. These degrees have enormous potential for future life choices - you could work as French teacher in the UK or even go on to complete a short, postgraduate professional qualification after your degree.
A really popular subject to study in France is LEA (Langues Etrangères Appliquées), which is Applied Foreign Languages. You need A Levels in French and one other language, and during the course you will learn 2 languages and some business studies. This puts you in a brilliant position to apply for management roles in the international departments of UK or French companies, or even to pursue your studies with a specialist business MBA.Find out how to apply to university in France
How Much Will It Cost?
Tuition fees in France are a lot lower than the UK. Fees are the same both for home and EU students, so as most public universities are funded by the government, students don't have to pay high fees.
A Bachelors Degree will cost you around 189 Euros (£145)per year, while a Masters will be around 261 Euros (£200) and a PhD will be 396 Euros (£303) per year.
However, private universities, in particular business schools, will have considerably more expensive tuition fees. An undergraduate degree could cost you between 1,500 and 7,000 Euros (£1,150 - £5,364) per year.
Your living expenses in France will depend on a number of things, for example, whether you're living in university halls or in a private rented flat, or whether you're living in the centre of a big city like Paris or in a small town or village outside of a city. Here's a general idea of expected living expenses in a typical month:
- Accommodation: €250- €700 (£192- £536)
- Food: €200 - €300 (£153 - £230)
- Transport: €30 - €100 (£23 - £77)
- Social/Entertainment: €110(£84)
The currency in France is the Euro, depicted by €. The current exchange rate is €1 : £0.77
Exchange rates can change quickly and, while this value is correct at the time of writing, it's worth checking again before you travel.
Each year there are a large number of scholarships for international students available from the French government. You can find information about these on the websites of French embassies and consulates around the world, or on the Campus France website where they have a search engine for scholarships and grants.
Working while you study
Students are permitted to work for up to 964 hours a year, which is about 60% of the hours of a full time job. Currently, the minimum wage in France is around €9.61 per hour (£7.36).
Living in France
French universities are less about having a social life than UK universities, and more about concentrating on studying. Generally, there's a lot of contact hours and a lot of work set each week, so you will need to study hard! This is probably why there's such a high dropout rate in France.
Although a lot of focus is on academic work, this doesn't mean students of French universities do nothing but study. Often the students union, or bureau des étudiants (BED), will organise social and extra curricular events.
France is also the fourth most popular study destination in the world - behind the US, the UK and Australia - with 12% of their students being international, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. This means that campuses are culturally diverse which will give you a great opportunity to meet loads of new people from all different cultures.Find out about student accommodation in France
Where to study?
The French government invest more money into their universities and research than almost any other country, ensuring you'll be getting a quality education. In 2014, 4 French universities made it into the top 200 QS World Rankings, including École Normale Supérieure, Paris at 24, École Polytechnique at 35, Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) at 115 and École Normale Supérieure, Lyon at 179. Here's a list of the universities available in France with their world ranking in brackets, where appropriate:
More from TSR
- International study forums
- How to apply to university in France
- Student Visas and what you need
- Accommodation for students in France
General external links
- Campus France
- The Complete University Guide: International Study in France
- QS Top Universities: Study In France
- Study In Europe: France
- Study Portals: France