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French connection

education Updated: Aug 25, 2010 11:53 IST
Lina Choudhury-Mahajan
Lina Choudhury-Mahajan
Hindustan Times
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How does France compare to the US/UK and Australia as a study destination?
France devotes a full 20 per cent of its annual budget to education. The cost comparison is one-third of the US/ UK as the French state largely subsidises education costs.

For French and international students alike, the government subsidises a very large part of the cost of instruction in France’s universities and other public institutions.

For example: University de Lyon offers a two-year MSc in nanoscale engineering for R30,000 (500 euros) or University Joseph-Fourier –Grenoble 1 offers an Msc in informatics for R60,000 for the two-year programme.

Toulouse Business School offers Master in economics, economic theory and finance in R18,000 for the one-year programme.

How many Indian students go there to study every year?
In 2009-2010, 1,945 student visa requests were processed for higher studies in various disciplines in France.

What can French institutes offer that universities in India cannot?
French higher education institutes are very closely linked to research laboratories of national and international repute, with excellent facilities and equipment. Students also get an opportunity to work in research centres. For example, Ecole Polytechnique has many research laboratories operating in various scientific fields (physics, mathematics, computer science, economics, chemistry, etc.), most operate in association with national scientific institutions such as CNRS, CEA, or INRIA.

French institutes also offer European degrees along with French degrees. For example: EM Lyon offers a European Master in Management. Within the framework of Erasmus Mundus Progra-mmes that are fully-funded masters offered by universities in the European Union, French institutes offer various courses in advanced robotics, computational mechanics, humanities etc.

Certain French institutes offer paid internships as part of their curriculum. The internship is mandatory for students to complete their degree.

France is a signatory to the Bologna process that sets European standards of education and homogenises the duration of studies in which students acquire degrees.

It’s also an excellent platform to learn a foreign language. However, the student can continue to study programmes taught in English.

Could you tell us the names of some of the more prominent universities in France?
For management studies, France has elite institutions like INSEAD, HEC, ESSEC, ESCP-EAP, and EM LYON.

For engineering and technology, France has INSA Lyon, Grenoble Institute of Technology, Ecole Centrale de Nantes, TELECOM Parsitech, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie. There are engineering grande ecoles such as the Groupment Des Ecoles Des Mines, Ecoles Centrales, the INSAS, the ENPC, ENSAMs.

In humanities and research, there are some excellent institutions like the ENS, the Sciences Po as also many public universities such as the Sorbonne. All these institutes are accredited by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Education. For more details, visit www.india-campusfrance.org

How expensive is it to study in France?
In France, the tuition fees vary according to the nature of the institute — whether it is a public university, a grande ecole (a professional institution) or a private institution. The tuition fees can vary from 400 euros annually to as much as 40,000 euros. The living expenses are 500 euros per month anywhere in France, except for Paris which is 600 euros per month on a frugal student budget.

Do universities offer teaching assistantships?
No. But other type of work can be envisaged such as internships, communications, data entry and receptionists’ jobs, etc. Students are allowed to work for up to 20 hours a week.

How expensive is staying on campus as opposed to living off it?
Universities throughout France offer rooms and studio apartments at reduced rates (between 120 to 300 euros per month) in student residences managed by CROUS, the regional affiliates of the French national student-service agency, known as CNOUS.

Relying on the private rental market: Monthly average rents average 15 euros per square metre in Paris and seven euros per square metre elsewhere in France. The supply of units in privately-owned student apartment buildings is rising. These buildings offer furnished and equipped studios and shared services such as cafeterias, coin laundries, and game rooms.

The monthly rent for a studio in such a building is 500 to 700 euros outside Paris and 550 to 700 euros in Paris.

Every international student is entitled to receive an offset equivalent to about 30 per cent of rent by the French government.

The two types of assistance are Allocation de logement sociale and Aide personnalisée au logement, often referred to as ALS and APL. Payments are made by local family assistance funds (caisses d’allocations familiales, or CAF). Thus a 500 euros studio may work out to cost 350 euros per month with CAF benefits.

Is language a barrier for Indian students wanting to study there?
No, several courses especially in engineering (all branches), management, hospitality, fashion studies and economics etc are available in English. However, it is a good idea to start on French to make your stay more rewarding and fruitful and for getting an internship opportunity in France.

Furthermore, learning a foreign language is no longer an impediment to global careers. This is a necessity and thus studying in France gives even more value addition for awesome global mobility and excellent career options.

How employment-friendly is France towards students who wish to work and stay on in the country?
In France, once a student finishes his course, he is entitled to stay on in France for six more months to hunt for a job. Should the student find a job commensurate to his/her qualification, he/she can obtain a fixed duration work contract or a periodically renewable work contract. There is no law that forbids meritorious and deserving foreign students from finding employment in France.

If somebody wants to enrol in a French university, how does he/she go about it?
Campus France, a section of the French Embassy in India, has been set up by the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs in association with the French Ministry of National Education and Research to promote French higher education across the globe. It is the first point of contact for those wishing to study in France. One aspiring to study in France must first visit www.india-campusfrance.org and then contact the local Campus France offices. Campus France offices in India will provide free counselling sessions, help student gain admission, find accommodation and will guide them through the process of securing a student visa.

A few schools that specialise in studies
Luxury brand management: ESSEC Business School, Paris Graduate School of Management
Perfume and cosmetics: University of Versailles Saint-Quentin –En –Yveline with Groupe ISIPCA
Aeronautical engineering: ISAE
Nuclear energy: ParisTech, Ecole des Mines de Nantes
Hospitality management: Refer to Vatel, Essec, and Cordon Bleu
Telecommunications: TELECOM Paristech, TELECOM SudParis
Public health: University Rennes 2 and EHESP

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