The French way
As the focus shifts on France with Paris once again being named the ‘Best Student City’ on a popular student cities index, Education Times takes a closer look at what the country offers to Indian students. Ruchi Chopda reports.
Over the last five years, initiatives such as the increase in the number of courses taught in English, the re-introduction of the post study work (PSW) scheme, long-term visas of up to five years to Indian citizens who have studied in France at the Master’s or PhD levels, and scholarships worth over one million Euros for Indian students, have put France at the forefront as a potential study destination among Indian students.
Subsequently, the number of Indian students pursuing their higher studies in France too has jumped by 50% according to Campus France, the French national agency for higher studies. In 2014, the number of Indian students pursuing their Bachelor’s level and above is 2,700.
As with other countries, the most popular courses among Indian students heading to France are engineering and management. Informs Antoine Grassin, managing director, Campus France, “Around 70% of the Indian students in France are enrolled in either engineering or management schools. One reason for this is that engineering and management schools in France are similar to the Indian IITs and IIMs. So students are familiar with them. Another important aspect is that the degrees offered by these schools have a high employability quotient which is what students are looking for.” Other courses that attract Indian students to French universities are science subjects including physics and chemistry. Adds Bikas Sanyal, director, Maison de l’Inde (Indian residence at the International University Campus in Paris CIUP), “Earlier, the typical Indian student would be a male student pursuing engineering, science or management at an institute here. However, the Indian student pool is becoming increasingly diverse as we now welcome a higher number of female students wanting to pursue courses in fields such as humanities or fashion.”
Apart from the slew of initiatives undertaken by the French government, other major reasons for the spike in the number of Indian students going to France for pursuing their higher studies is the realisation that unlike the US and UK, a French education is not only inexpensive – the fees for international students are on par with those for French nationals – but also that the country has several highly ranked institutions across disciplines and gives access to the entire Schengen area.
Says Soumya Datta, an MSc in computer security graduate from Eurecom, currently employed at the institute, “The advantages of pursuing a Master’s degree in France are abundant. Firstly, since the French government subsidises higher education, at least in public institutions, the course fees here are considerably low than in other countries like the US and UK. Furthermore, the mandatory six-month internship, which is required by a number of degrees, allows students to get acquainted with the industry. The strong ties that institutes have with local industry also ensure that students imbibe such skills that are in demand in the market. Lastly, students can expect assistance from the government for lodging (CAF benefits) and medical assistance at a nominal cost for the entire period of study.”
Adds Radhika Mittal, a Master’s in management, financial economics track student from EDHEC Business School in Nice, “Studying in France gives you the opportunity to work with people from diverse backgrounds, familiarising you with their culture and behaviour. This is like seeing the world while staying in one place. Also, a number of fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Paris. This means that the chances of getting a job upon graduation are high. Furthermore, the five-year visa scheme gives you ample time to look for a job.”
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
• France is not an English speaking nation, so while you will be pursuing a course in English, it is important to remember that you will need to know basic French in order to communicate with people outside of class. Thus, it is advisable to learn basic French i.e. at least A1 level before heading to France
• Living expenses euros 200-1,000 per month depending on where you will be studying. Paris though has been named the ‘Best Student City’ is known to be an expensive place to live in. But the relatively low tuition fees mean you can either choose to save up on that money or spend that much more on stay