“If we want to continue sending our children abroad, we must also continue to welcome students in return”

Donatienne Hissard was appointed general director of Campus France in 2022. According to this Asia specialist, France must continue to send its students abroad, in return, to receive the best internationals.

According to the latest Campus France report from 2023, student mobility to France is losing momentum. For what ?

We must put the observation of “loss of speed” into perspective. France is located in sixth place in the world in welcoming international students and manages to maintain this rank, in a competition where there are more and more players. And I remind you that this “ranking” compares figures in absolute value in countries of extremely different sizes. It is interesting to compare the percentage of internationals in the student population of each of these countries: with 9%, France is ahead of the United States, which has 5%, even though they are leaders in the ranking in terms of numbers. France is also the fourth host country in the world for doctoral students.

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To make France even more attractive, we must fight against an often outdated perception regarding studies. The recent performances of French universities in international rankings, key decision-making elements, particularly in Asia, are insufficiently known. People also imagine that you need to know how to speak French to study in France, while more and more establishments are offering courses in English. Finally, our country remains too identified, in the imagination of mobile students, with niche sectors of excellence, such as fashion, gastronomy or design, while we also offer world-class training in mathematics, finance, management, engineering or ecology.

Is France seeking to prioritize attracting students in sectors where the country has needs (engineering, sciences, medicine, etc.)?

Each student’s project is examined on its own merits. There are no guidelines in terms of discipline or sector: it is French higher education establishments which select international students wishing to join France, based on their academic requirements and their reception capacities. In terms of level, there is a priority for the recruitment of international masters or doctorates, which are more favorable levels for expatriation and the guarantee that students have obtained a bachelor’s level diploma in their country of origin.

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