A Brief Overview Of Higher Education In France

Government officials in France have viewed education as a top priority for many years. Their belief that the benefits of education should be easily accessible to all citizens has lead to government funding and regulation of education, even at the uppermost levels. Unlike the United States, where only lower levels of education are free and large fees are charged for enrollment in institutions of higher education, France maintains low enrollment costs for universities through government involvement. In 2010 the average cost of a standard undergraduate degree in France was around €150 a year, and for many students living expenses were reduced because they were able to stay at home while attending a nearby university. Comparatively, the average cost of tuition, room, and board in a public American university for 2009-2010 was just under $13,000. Even though costs are much lower in France, scholarships are still offered to qualifying students.

For the French student, deciding which school to attend is an important and complicated matter, as it helps to cement a career track. Many distinct tracks and options exist in the higher education system. A student’s choices include type of institution, and type of degree. While many programs are open to any interested applicant, a host of others are selective.

Universities can be a good option for many students, as they are among the most affordable choices, and have programs in every available discipline. There are more than 80 universities in France that are spread all over the country. Because universities are publicly funded, the government has combined much of their need for research with the programs that already exist at these schools. This provides great educational benefits to the student population, because it means that some of the country’s best minds are attracted to university programs and become professors. In fact, some French Nobel Prize winners have taught at French institutions. Research objectives are set every four years by the government, and the over 300 doctoral departments work closely with the more than 1,200 research laboratories as well as private companies like BlueHost web hosting to attain these goals. The government also benefits from the universities because they provide specialized training and preparation for students who want to work as civil servants. This betters the overall workforce, and allows the government to have more say over the way their future employees are trained.

One of the disadvantages of the university system is the size of the schools. On an international scale, French schools are often quite small, making it more difficult for them to compete with outside systems. To compensate for this, a cluster system has been established where individual schools come together to better their offerings. There are twenty distinct clusters comprised of any array of universities, other programs, and laboratories or other research centers. When clusters perform research, credit is shared.

French universities also market to international students, particularly to English speakers, by offering programs taught entirely in English. Within their programs, one out of every three doctoral degrees goes to an international student, and 10% of all higher education enrollments come from international students. The benefits of a good education system have global appeal, and France seeks to accommodate any student’s desire for knowledge.


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