France aims to bring more foreign students to its universities by offering more classes taught in English.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced the plan on Monday. He said increasing the number of foreigners studying in the country would help build French influence overseas.
France is home to famous universities like the Sorbonne in Paris and several leading business schools. The country is a popular choice among non-English-speaking students. But it ranks behind the United States, Britain and Australia in the total number of foreign students who study there.
Between 2011 and 2016, the number of foreign students studying at French universities fell by 8.5 percent. The country has seen increased competition from Germany, Russia, Canada and China.
Philippe said that in the education field, “just as in other economic ones, the world’s balance of power is shifting. That’s why we need to welcome more foreign students.”
Under the new plan, France will ease student visa requirements. Student visa applications also will be available online.
Starting next March, foreigners who have earned a French master’s degree will be able to receive a residence visa. The change is meant to help recent graduates look for work or set up a business in France.
France also plans to increase the costs for students who come from outside the European Economic Area. Currently, students in France -- including foreign students – pay (about) 170 euros a year for a bachelor’s degree and 243 euros a year for a master’s degree.
Officials said the low cost of education in France leads students from other countries like China to believe that the quality of a French education is lower than what other countries offer.
Beginning in September 2019, non-European students will pay 2,770 euros a year for a bachelor’s degree and 3,770 euros for graduate degrees.
That is still much less costly than some other European countries, however. Prime Minister Philippe said the costs for foreign students “will remain well below the 8,000 euros to 13,000 euros charged by the Dutch or the tens of thousands of pounds paid in Britain.”
France will use the extra money to build better education facilities and increase the number of scholarships for foreign students.
I’m Ashley Thompson.