The Hindu - 30 September 2013

The cost of education in France is much cheaper than in American or British institutes, proving to be a great attraction for Indian students ............By Venkata Susmita Biswas

Simpler visa procedures, five-year visa to France for Master’s and Ph.D. students and numerous scholarships for Indian students is making France a favoured destination for undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral studies among Indians. “Though the number of Indian students studying in French colleges is just about one per cent as of now, we are seeing a keen interest from students to pursue higher education in France,” says Sapna Sachdeva, national coordinator, Campus France-India, the French national agency for promoting higher education among international students.

Despite the devaluation of the rupee, students are thronging French colleges, thanks to the policy changes made by the French Government, observe overseas education counsellors. “I have observed an overnight change in the numbers and more students are showing interest in studying in France,” says Vidya Suresh, country manager, ESIGELEC, a private engineering school supported by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Rouen (CCIR) and the Society for Electrical Engineers (SIGELEC) in France. She says that the cost of education in France is just one-third of what it costs in the U.S. or the U.K.. “This is a great attraction for Indian students,” she adds.

Apart from engineering courses, students from India prefer to pursue post-graduate and doctoral courses in France, say experts. “We get a lot of enquires for doctoral research and a good number of students who take up undergraduate courses wish to continue their master’s and doctoral research in France,” says Ms. Vidya. Management courses offered by French institutes are in great demand as the country offers specialisations such as luxury management and aviation management. “A large fraction of students want to take up M.Sc in Finance and International Business as an alternative to traditional MBA courses,” shares Chetnesh Mishra, a representative of Toulouse Business School in Toulouse, France.

French proficiency

Students preparing to join a French institute need not fret about learning French or taking up any crash course as the country has about 800 English-taught courses on offer for foreign students, says Ms. Sapna. She adds that students need to have a B2 level proficiency in French to take up courses offered by the public universities that offer courses only in French. Students are also not required to take up TOEFL or IELTS to get English language proficiency certificates, she adds. “We do not ask for TOEFL or IELTS scores as we are well aware that the Indian curriculum is taught in English and that the level of English used by Indian students is pretty high,” says Laurence Mariet-Sanchez of the International Promotions and Recruitment Department of KEDGE Business School based in Marseille and Bordeaux.

Students looking to choose colleges in France must shortlist the course they wish to pursue and choose an appropriate college that offers programmes in English, advices Ms. Sapna. She adds that students should also look at the world rankings of the colleges before zeroing in on one.