The French government is proposing to charge higher fees to foreign students from outside the European Union from the next university year, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced. At present these students pay the same fees as French and EU students.
All students studying in a French university pay €170 (US$194) a year for a licence, the three-year first diploma equivalent to a bachelor degree. For a masters they pay €243 and for a doctorate €380. But in future a non-EU foreign student could be charged €2,770 (US$3,150) a year for a licence and €3,770 for the two more advanced degree courses.
Philippe made the announcement at the opening last week of the Rencontres Universitaires de la Francophonie, an annual conference organised by Campus France, the government agency that promotes French higher education internationally.
He was unveiling ‘Choose France’, the government’s strategy to attract 500,000 international students by 2027, compared with 324,000 studying in France at present.
France is the fourth most popular destination for international students globally, after the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.
According to Campus France, 45% of foreign students in France are from Africa, 19% from the European Union, 16% from Asia and Oceania, 9% from America and 4% from the Middle East. More than 70% are studying at a university, the remainder at grandes écoles or engineering schools.
Invest more
The logic behind the increase is to invest more to improve facilities and conditions for foreign students. Measures will include developing courses in French as a foreign language and in English, and simplifying bureaucracy such as obtaining student visas and renewal of residence permits, currently notoriously difficult procedures.
At the same time, the bursaries system will be reformed, with universities allocating 6,000 grants as financial aid, and 15,000 – instead of the 7,000 at present – being awarded by the ministry of Europe and foreign affairs, mostly for students from North and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The majority students’ union, the Fédération des Associations Générales Étudiantes (FAGE), called on the government not to introduce the increase, saying that the most insecure students would be hit hardest.

Read more : Jane Marshall : University World News : 21 November 2018