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France shaping as popular study destination, report says

By ZHAO YIMENG | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-20 09:13

People visit the French booth during the China International Education Exhibition in Beijing on Feb 17. [Photo by Wu Changqing/For China Daily]

More Chinese students intend to study business, science and engineering in France, with major events scheduled for 2024 such as the Paris Summer Olympics, according to a report released on Saturday by an overseas education consultancy.

A total of 27,479 Chinese students studied in France during the 2020-21 academic year, according to the EIC Education Group's Report on Studying in France. The number was a 2 percent drop from the previous year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the figure has remained steady in recent years.

France attracts a large number of international students every year due to its cultural and artistic heritage, top educational resources, and affordable study costs, Wu Dan from EIC's program management center said at the launch of the report.

As next year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France, and the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics, the country will be a popular destination for Chinese students, Wu said.

Nearly half of the Chinese tertiary students enrolled in France during the 2020-21 academic year were studying business and engineering.

The proportion of applications for business majors increased from 64.7 percent in 2019 to 76 percent in 2023, while those who applied for science and engineering majors also increased 3 percentage points to 7.8 percent, according to the report.

Engineering and business school graduates found it easier to land a job, the report said. These schools' emphasis on practical education provided students opportunities to engage with industry elites and expand their professional networks, it added.

Data from the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation showed that in 2022 France had nearly 400,000 international students, with 65 percent studying in comprehensive public universities and 14 percent in business schools.

Over the past five years, 80 percent of Chinese students studying in France applied for master's programs, while 67 percent applied for higher business schools. Applications for comprehensive public schools and art academies accounted for 17 percent and 8 percent respectively, according to data from the Group.

This year, Emlyon Business School in Lyon received the largest number of applications from Chinese students, the report said.

"Studying at business schools in France is relatively intensive. My weekly schedule is always tight, with numerous courses, assignments and group projects," said Han Qiaoyi, a Chinese student at the school.

Wu said the report provides comprehensive and professional analysis and advice for students and families intending to study in France.

It combines the latest figures from various French official institutions, as well as customer service data and student interviews collected by the group. Information about the French education system, application guidelines, and strategies for getting into prestigious higher institutes and future employment are also included in the report.

Since China and France signed a diploma recognition agreement in 2007, the Chinese government has recognized all higher education diplomas approved by the French government, according to the report.

Feng Wanqing, an official with Campus France Chine, said fluency in French is not a must for studying in the country.

"This year, half of Chinese students studying in France opt for programs taught in English," Feng said, adding that scores of English language tests are also available for applicants.

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