France and international students – a perspective

In the current context of internationalization and increased competition between universities and countries, attracting international students is a major challenge all countries have to take – including France. France has already an excellent potential since it is the 4th country with the most international students, after the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia – and the 1st non-English-speaking country, before Germany[1]. This trend is confirmed by the latest QS World University Rankings. Unsurprisingly, French universities perform the best in the International Students index, with 15 institutions in the top 200 in this indicator. This is opposed to only five French universities in the top 200 for the overall rankings.

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HE News Brief 17.5.11

by Abby Chau


  • ENGLAND: Universities Minister David Willetts continues to draw fire for his HE proposals
  • UK: The Guardian has just released its list of top UK universities, with Cambridge topping the league table
  • GERMANY: Universities are overcrowded and many are calling for the reforms
  • FRENCH: New internationalisation strategy to target mobile students
  • AUSTRALIA: Losing its grip on mobile students
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HE News Brief 4.01.11

by Abby Chau

Happy new year to you all!  The QSIU team will be delivering you the latest HE news, as well as intelligence on rankings, HE trends, and other beasts this upcoming year. Stay tuned.

  • India has announced that they will be performing their first major survey of higher education, which has suffered from inadequate statistical information for years. This initiative is seen to be the first step in a decade long effort to double the countries’ higher education institutions.
    Full Story: New York Times

  • Now that English students are set to pay up to £9000 in tuition fees starting in 2012, Michael Russell, Scotland’s Education  announced that Scottish students will still enjoy free tuition. In order to fund this, students from the rest of the UK will pay premium fees. This announcement is seen to curve “fee refugees” from other parts of the UK from fleeing to Scotland in order to pay less for higher education.
    Full Story:  University World News
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The French universities revolution is en route

by Stephanie Braudeau

Making French universities more attractive?

Last December, French President, Nicolas Sarkozy announced that a €35 billion national loan will prioritise higher education and training. At the press conference he expressed the desire to produce the best universities in the world. In order to achieve his objective, he decided to inject €7.7 billion for a project of creating between 5 and 10 initiatives d’excellence, elite campuses in order to compete with the best world universities. These campuses will be linked with their economic environment, allowing a better cooperation between Grandes Ecoles and universities as well as research institutions to contribute to the economic integration of their surroundings. They will also be targeting stellar professors, researchers and students.

For a decade, the higher education environment has been changing in France. In order to be more competitive in the international market, more and more schools are merging such as between the two Grandes Ecoles ESC Lille and Ceram Business School into SKEMA Business School in 2009 or ESCP Europe born from the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris and the EAP (Ecole Européenne des Affaires) merger in 2000. Networks or alliances are also flourishing, such as the creation of Paristech in 2007, a centre of excellence gathering 12 prestigious Parisian Grandes Ecoles.

In 2007, the government implemented the project of giving more autonomy to public universities. The goal is that by 2012, all French universities will be autonomous in terms of human resources and budget management.

Public universities have been granted a yearly budget of €1 billion whilst other European countries are cutting education budgets. Read more

HE News Brief 8.6.10

by Abby Chau


From a French higher education revolution to a growing American uneasiness about their ranking, here are this week’s news stories:

  • The second Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Higher Education was supposed to take place in April but due to the Icelandic ash cloud, it was postponed.  Stakeholders of this conference, from Southern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern States, seek to establish dialogues and agreements based on the 2007 Cairo Declaration which, akin to the Bologna Process, aims to harmonise higher education and promote knowledge sharing within member states. This editorial argues against the wholesale acceptance of Bologna and cautions against the so-called neoliberalism of internationalisation and privatisation.
    Full Story: Times of Malta
  • According to the Chronicle, France is allowing its 83 universities to become autonomous, cutting off traditional ties to the government.  In a major overhaul, Sarkozy also plans on investing billions of euros  into creating 10 regional “supercampuses” with the view to compete with American Ivy Leagues. The Chronicle posits that the poor performance of French universities in international league tables  has had a hand in ushering in this new system.
    Full Story: The Chronicle of Higher Education
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Politics and higher education – a volatile mix?

by Ben Sowter


I can’t help but have a little admiration for Nicolas Sarkozy. Regardless of whether or not you agree with his positions – he at least seems prepared to actually do something. Not without a little resistance, however. There have been plenty of protests at all levels in response to his education reforms but the latest loosely represents a mutiny by the Grandes Ecoles as reported last month in The Telegraph –

In a nutshell, the Grandes Ecoles are resisting an attempt to force them to take 30 percent to their intake from under-privileged backgrounds. On the one hand, the populist view is that such students are disadvantaged when faced with the extremely challenging entrance exams, on the other that standards will drop if entry requirements are relaxed.

Both views seem valid, but the key battleground may not be at university admissions age but earlier – with a view to driving standards, and aspirations, amongst more diverse students sooner. Or alternatively to focus on diverse entrants to the often expensive preparatory classes rather than the Ecoles themselves which appeared to be Sarkozy’s view just 14 months ago: