The very best that higher education has to offer
France can lay claim to one of the most complete and highest performing higher education systems in the world…
An internationally-renowned higher education system
In France, the Baccalaureate is the diploma that grants access to higher education. However, the full range of end-of-study international diplomas may also be recognized based upon an equivalence system, thereby opening the door to French higher education and research, one of the most renowned set-ups of its kind in the world.
Many French universities and business schools are well placed in the most respected international rankings, such as those conducted by Times Higher Education (the Financial Times ranking), QS (the Shanghai ranking) and U-Multirank (the European Union). By pursuing studies in France you benefit from this recognition, one which can be attributed to the outstanding track record of French researchers, among many other factors. France boasts no fewer than 62 prestigious Nobel Prize winners and 13 Fields medal recipients. A recent ranking also placed this 66-million inhabitant country in second position just behind the United States as the most prolific in the field of Mathematics. France also features in 7th place in the world for scientific publications and 4th in the world for the European patent system.
Universities and business schools: the two pillars of the French system
The French higher education system is based upon a network of 3,500 public and private institutions offering high-quality training programs at all levels and in all subjects, as well as an ever-increasing number of learning tracks in English.
The system is divided into two main branches:
Universities. These huge institutions, comprising several thousand to several tens of thousands of students, offer a wide range of programs, both generalist and designed to prepare for working life: a general or professional Bachelor degree (3 years); a Master 1 or Master 2 (1 or 2 years after the Bachelor degree); a Doctorate (3 years after the Master 2);
Business schools (or “Grandes Ecoles”). This special feature of the French system is the only one of its kind in the world, comprising medium-sized institutions that combine student selectivity, academic excellence and close links with the socio-economic world. There are two main identifiable types of “grande école”: Schools of Management (a category to which the six Pass-world competitive entrance exam business schools belong) and School of Engineering. There also exists an additional array of institutions including “grande écoles” specializing in literature/human sciences, the arts and architecture, among others.
The full range of training programs delivered within these establishments are backed by accredited research labs and the knowledge and expertise of professors and top-notch experts.
International validation methodologies
All these curricula share one thing in common – they offer a State-approved guarantee that makes no distinction between French and international students: the entrance requirements are the same, as are the degrees awarded, degrees that are based on a dual system and that enjoy the same level of recognition on a European scale.
Program design is similar, thanks to the Licence-Master-Doctorate structure set up as part of the Bologna process, an initiative designed to bring various European higher education systems closer together and which led to the 2010 creation of the European Higher Education Area, comprising 48 States.
Validation methodologies have also been standardized via the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System), which renders study credits transferrable and therefore recognized on an international level.
Find out more: see the article “Your diploma recognized abroad”.
Teaching tracks available to all
In the birth-land of Molière, the quality of higher education is a result of a joint and sustained political ambition, backed by heavy public investment that provides support to teaching and research. The Education budget represents over 20% of State spending, making it the largest public expenditure. It also stands as the fifth largest internal budget dedicated to R&D, behind South Korea, Japan, Germany and the United States and just ahead of the United Kingdom.
As a consequence, students can benefit from one of the very best higher education systems in the world and, above all, an education at a fraction of the cost of its US equivalent, for example. In addition, the financial aid and scholarship schemes in place (often based on social criteria) are prevalent, providing support to nearly one student in four in 2016-17. Beyond these forms of assistance, international students can also take advantage of a number of scholarships offered by public bodies (namely those proposed by Campus France) and the Erasmus+ program.
Find out more: read the article “3. Scholarships available to international Management School students.”