Studying young girl
22 November 2018

Strategy to attract international students

On 19 November 2018 in Paris, during the Rencontres Universitaires de la Francophonie (University Meetings for the Francophonie), Édouard Philippe presented the strategy to attract international students. At the event, the Prime Minister reiterated the Government’s objective to increase the number of foreign students in France and raise the profile of French higher education abroad.
Portrait of Edouard Philippe
"By 2025, the number of internationally mobile students will have doubled, rising from over 4.6 million to 9 million students, especially since young people from developing countries are entering higher education in large numbers. This is a golden opportunity for humanity. It is also a golden opportunity for France which is in demand and sought-after throughout the Francophonie network, with its excellent higher education network and thanks to the variety of courses it has to offer. France is the fourth most popular country in the world for student mobility and the most popular non-anglophone study destination."
Édouard Philippe

"Bienvenue en France" – "Choose France"

To further increase the number of overseas students in France, the Government has put together the "Bienvenue en France" – "Choose France" strategy based on a number of levers covering all topics and addressing the aspects of daily life that every newcomer faces:

  • Good reception conditions, with the improvement of the procedure for granting visas by simplifying the list of documents required for a visa application and by further developing digitisation. This will limit the need to visit a consulate or outsourced visa centre. In addition, from March 2019, students holding a French higher education qualification equivalent to a Master’s degree and who have returned to their home country will be entitled to receive a residence permit allowing them to return to France, start a business or look for work.
  • Support throughout their studies, with the widespread adoption of good practices for welcoming students, already tried and tested by some schools and universities (for example, providing guidance for students as soon as they land at the airport or offering a dedicated welcome desk or welcome day in universities).
  • Financial assistance covering two thirds of tuition fees will be available for foreign students who do not live within the European Economic Area and who will pay tuition fees amounting to approximately a third of the actual cost of their education. These fees will remain well below the €8,000 to €13,000 charged by our Dutch neighbours or the tens of thousands of pounds in the UK and most European countries, without mentioning the situation in North America.
  • Tripling the number of scholarships available and increasing the number of fee exemptions for those who need them.
Hence, the "Bienvenue en France" – "Choose France" label will be introduced from this year, awarded by Campus France (the French Agency for the promotion of higher education, international student services, and international mobility) to institutions which succeed in making very tangible improvements to the welcome experience of international students. From the start of the 2019 academic year, a seed fund worth €10 million will be used to support tangible initiatives undertaken by labelled universities. Additionally, a seed fund of €5 million will be available to support new partnership initiatives between French and foreign institutions. The aim is to allow those institutions interested in raising their international profile to take exploratory steps. The Agence Française de Développement (AFD – French Agency for Development) will then take over, unlocking €20 million each year to support project implementation.

Ten key commitments

Labelled institutions must ensure ten key commitments are met, including:

  • A one-stop “guichet d’accueil”, or Welcome Desk for English speakers, which will be linked to the local prefecture, from the start of the next academic year.
  • An advisor assigned to support each student as soon as they arrive in France.
  • Better access to accommodation, with information fully available in English on the Lokaviz web platform (which lists vacancies in university residences) and offers of private housing. Other initiatives will also be launched, such as the creation of a residence for French-speaking students at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (International University Campus in Paris) in 2020. It will offer 150 places to African students, who will be selected on the basis of their academic excellence.
  • A range of courses in French as a foreign language (FLE). Demand is very high and the forthcoming consultation will consider rolling out a type of gateway offering intensive FLE courses for non-French-speaking students. The intention will also be for all FLE courses delivered as part of a curriculum to be labelled as a guarantee of their quality.
Portrait of Edouard Philippe
"The Francophonie is no longer just an historical asset – it offers an opportunity for France and for all countries having French as a common language. French is not only a language of communication and creation: it is a language of education, which has allowed generations of students to reach beyond the borders of their own country in order to fulfil their dreams and vocation."
Édouard Philippe


  • A range of courses taught in English, which is necessary for welcoming more non-French-speaking students and sharing with them the values that France upholds. Since French learning will take place alongside programmes taught in English, they will serve to promote the Francophonie.