Study Abroad
Read this article for information on the education system in France, education opportunities for foreign students and the academic scenario in France.

Education System in France

France is glamorous and attractive, both in terms of being a tourist destination and academics. The French government works towards creating an atmosphere where students can study to any level that they desire, at an inexpensive sum of money. The education system here is slightly different compared to other Western ways of academics. The former is shaped in such a way that, students can decide at 15 years whether they want to get into academics or trained for a profession. With versatile choices, the French system of education gives its citizens the liberty to make their decisions about future careers. In some cases, if students show determination, the Government even provides them with funding. Listed below are the different levels of French education, opportunities for foreign students and the academic scenario in France.

Education opportunities For Foreign Students In France

Early Years
Pre-primary or the nursery level of education is the beginning of education for children aged 3 to 6. The primary level begins at the age of 6 and is compulsory for all children. Secondary levels ideally last from 11 to 15 years of age. Higher secondary education is from 15 to 18 years of age. In this phase, the student has two choices of baccalaureates: technical or general. Technical courses involve vocational training with part-time studies and apprenticeship. General is more academic oriented.

Higher Education
For higher education, aspirants who have cleared the baccalaureate exam are entitled to free education in universities run by the Government. At the end of first academic year, an exam is held. on clearing this, students may continue their education. But, this is only for French citizens. Also, the top 5% students have a chance of studying in specialized universities called Grand Ecoles. Getting through these involve clearing competitive exams and interviews. International students need to have academic qualifications that are equivalent to baccalaureate to be able to do undergraduate studies in France.

The higher education is divided into three cycles:
  • Cycle 1: This is the first three years of university, which is equivalent to the undergraduate level in India. It is called the foundation course. With main stream courses, there are also diplomas that are available. The undergraduate holder in France is known as the 'Licence' holder.
  • Cycle 2: After 3 years of this program, students can opt to continue for another 4 years and obtain a 'Maitrise' degree or for 5 years and get a Masters degree. Separate specializations can be opted for at this time.
  • Cycle 3: The third cycle is the final step of academics where the students strive to obtain their PhD.
Universities and Grand Ecoles
In France, higher education can be availed from either universities or Grand Ecoles (greater schools). Most universities are not so choosy when it comes to selection of students admit anyone who meets the requirements. Grand Ecoles are special institutions that select students on the basis of competitive exams. They are very specific in their subject area and focus only on single subjects instead of an overall development.

Higher education, as mentioned earlier, is dominantly funded by the state in France and thus making the fees low and affordable. The tuition fee may vary from course to course depending on the institution. €150 to €700 per year is the range for higher studies in universities for various levels of higher education. There are also scholarships that agree to pay nominal sums for tuition or textbooks. This includes a monthly stipend for students who cannot afford to pay the fees. However, for professional courses such as engineering and business, the fees are much higher and touch up to €9000 a year.

The Government of France encourages students in completing their education with provisions such as free education. However, not a very large percentage of youngsters opt for going the whole nine yards with academics.