With France having one of the best educational systems in the world, it is no wonder that hundreds of students from all over the world find their way to its institutions yearly. If you have dreams of studying in one of the higher institutions or vocational schools to be had in France, then there are a few things you need to know ‒ they are not so few actually.
1. When Does the Academic Year Start?
A typical academic year in higher institutions in France lasts two semesters that run from September to June of the next year. Applications can be made twice in a year:
- 1st February and 1st April (fall admission)
- 15th September (spring admission)
- Applications can extend past these dates if there are spaces available. Always consult with the universities.
When you have decided on which school you are going to attend and have researched on it, you will have to meet the requirements for the university or institution else your application might be rejected.
2. What Do I Need for My Application?
University/ institutional requirements may vary. However, they are generally the same, and may include:
- A completed application form
- An online application receipt
- A letter of recommendation
- Academic transcript(s)
- Language Proficiency Test scores ( E.g., TOEFL and IELTS for English, DELF, and DALF if you know French too)
- Course/ Programme description
- Letter of motivation
- Resume/CV (especially if you plan on working part-time)
- Identity documents/ Residency permit
- A copy of your passport
You may need a work experience certificate or letter, especially if you’re seeking for admission into a Business School.
When submitting evidence of your degrees, you might want to get help in knowing whether your academic degrees can be compared to those obtainable in France and if you can add it to your application. This is credential evaluation.
Why is it so important?
In order to study at a French University, you need to have completed your upper secondary school education from a legitimate and recognized institution. A credential evaluation checks all this, and institutions use it to know whether you are eligible or not. It could also be part of a university’s application requirements.
Credential evaluations can be done by trained international professionals or even private companies. For countries in the European region like France, National Information Centres (ENIC-NARIC) are available for the academic and professional recognition of qualifications. You would need a file containing
- A translation of your qualification
- Legalisation of your documents
- Equivalence fee
Either way, you have to choose a credential evaluation service that’ll put your best foot forward in your application.
3. How Much are Tuition Fees?
Tuition fees are pretty much the same in public universities around the country. Generally, it’s 185EUR/year for a Bachelor’s degree, 260 EUR for a Master’s, and 390 EUR for a Ph.D. Although starting September 2019, the new tuition fees are 2770 EUR, 3770 EUR, and 380 EUR respectively.
There are many scholarships and grants available for citizens who want to continue their education in France, but not so much for international students. These scholarships can cover all or a part of your college expenses. The Campusbourses tool on the Campus France website is a real helper when it comes to finding grants.
4. Do I Need a Visa?
Students from the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) member states, and Switzerland will not require a visa to study in France. They only need a valid ID or passport for studies spanning 90 days or less.
If you aren’t in this category, then you’ll need a student visa. You can apply for one at a French consulate or embassy, once you’ve received an admission letter. You can also apply through the online student portal run by the French government called Campus France.
If you intend to stay for 90 days or less, you’ll need a short-term stay visa. If it’s 3-6 months, then you’ll require a temporary long-stay visa. For studies longer than six months, you’ll have to apply for a long-term student visa (VLS-TS). This acts as a residency permit for a period ranging from 4 months to 1 year; it can be renewed to last for the duration of your course (multi-annual residence permit).
The VLS-TS visa also lets you work for 20 hours per week, in case you need the extra money.
5. How to Get a VLS-TS Visa
Applications for the VLS-TS should be made to the French consulate or embassy in your country. The visa has to be validated within three months after your arrival in France. This validation can be done online.
6. Student Exchange Programs
To get a unique and in-depth feel of the French culture while studying, you might want to consider enrolling in a student exchange program. Luckily, there are many websites that can help you do just that.
7. What is the Cost of Living in France?
The standard of living for a student in France may look very high, but it’s actually cheaper than most countries like the UK. It mustn’t be in Paris. There are other provincial cities that are just as nice, and easier on the pockets too. On average, an international student in France would need 500-600 EUR per month for survival.
8. Do I Need to Learn French?
Not necessarily, most French citizens can speak English. You’d only get tripped up by the French idioms and curious sentences added to it, hence learning the language is advisable. It’s also important if you have plans to work or even doing business in France later on.
Other Things You Should Know:
- Always make sure your housing is secure
- Carry cash with you.
- Make your visa and passport your best friends.
I hope we’ve helped you get one step closer to that France dream, don’t forget to send a postcard! Bonne chance!