Concerns over the United Kingdom’s tough visa regime and immigration policies of US president-elect Donald Trump are likely to send more international students to Europe even as France and Germany show up prominently on the list of their preferred countries. In the last three years, Germany has inched closer to the UK as a higher studies destination for Indians.
France is a major gateway to Europe’s work and business culture. International students often enjoy access to leading academics, with small class sizes and intensive teaching, and that too for a low fee (compared to US and UK). French engineering and business schools fare well in European rankings. With their international faculty as well as student body, French institutes enable Indian students to develop their own international networks of contacts.
Data for academic years September 2013-August 2014, September 2014-August 2015, and September 2015-August 2016 indicates that the number of Indian students in France has increased. While it was 3,037 in 2013-2014, it increased to 3,481 in 2014-15 and 4,231 in 2015-16.
Management, finance and economics are the most popular programmes among Indians with 60% of students opting for these courses in France. This is followed by engineering courses with 18% Indians opting for these programmes.
According to Alexandre Ziegler, ambassador of France to India, this year, the French Embassy offered nearly 400 scholarships under its flagship Charpak programme for master’s degrees, exchange semesters and research internships. French companies, such as MBDA, also offer scholarships to Indian students, including tuition fee waivers and a monthly stipend.
“Run by the Embassy of France in India, the Charpak scholarship offers three types of funding for bachelor’s and master’s levels. This includes the Research Internship Programme designed for all students with an economics, engineering or science background at the bachelor’s or master’s levels who plan to do an internship at a French laboratory during their academic break (May to July). The Exchange Programme (January-June or September-December semester) is designed for exchange students for a period of one to four months (duration of one academic semester) at the bachelor’s or master’s degree level,” says Ziegler.
The master’s programme is designed for one to two years of studies in France at the master’s degree level. Applications are selected on the basis of academic excellence, as well as the consistency and quality of the statement of purpose. Knowledge of French is an advantage. The Eiffel Excellence grants enable awardees to earn a master’s degree or, for doctoral candidates enrolled in dual-degree programmes, to travel for up to 10 months. Candidates are nominated by French institutions. All scholarships are merit-based.
Every Indian student who comes to study in France in a public university benefits from tuition fee waivers by the government.
In 2017, the Embassy will foster stronger links between Indian and French higher education institutions, by organising visits of more than 40 representatives of Indian institutions to France and hosting representatives of French institutions in India.
The embassy will open three new Campus France desks in Lucknow, Jaipur and Indore to help students choose the institutions best suited to their areas of academic interest next year. It will also conduct the Admission Tour in India, a higher education fair, in February 2017. In the four months spanning November 2017 to February 2018, Bonjour India, the festival of France in India, will highlight what our countries can do together in terms of technological, social and environmental innovations.
Onward to Germany
Indian student mobility in Germany is on the rise. The number of Indian students in the country has more than doubled in the last five years. The latest figures released by the Federal Statistical Office reveal the number of Indian students in Germany growing by 15.8% over the last one year to 13,740 (winter semester 2015-16). Indians form the second largest group of international students enrolled at German universities with engineering programmes accounting for the maximum number of Indians (72%), followed by mathematics and natural sciences (13%), law and social studies (10%).
A decade back both France and Germany were attracting less than 5,000 students every year clubbed together.
Maria Mathai, director, MM Advisory Services (that released the India Students’ Mobility Report 2016), says that Germany in 2009 had about 3,200 Indian students and France had 1,200. Last year, Germany crossed the11,000 students mark and France close to 4,000 students. “So it is clear that Germany has left its fellow European neighbour behind,” she says.
The changes France has made to its post study visa requirements for Indian students has had a positive impact on the numbers. For Germany, “the biggest factor has been the decision by Germany’s universities to waive off tuition fee for international students. That’s a huge pull,” says Mathai.
In Germany, every university is autonomous. This means that every university/study programme has its own set of criteria for admitting students. University websites always list the exact admission requirements. Some generalisation is, however, possible and one can say that as a four-year bachelor’s degree holder India is eligible for admission to a master’s programme.
“We are projecting that if Germany maintains this growth rate, and if UK continues to clamp down on foreign students, Germany will overtake UK numbers by 2020-21.Our Indian Student Mobility Report 2016 shares this projection data. Germany has been growing at 6.6% for the past three years and could emerge as the European leader in three years,” says Mathai.
Germany has a focused engagement plan within India which covers all levels – from schools to colleges to Indian institutes of excellence. But what is worth noting is the success of German Language programmes with schools in India and the corresponding student exchange programmes, she adds. Every year the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) provides about 1,500 scholarships to students and scholars from India to study and research in Germany. The DAAD provides merit-based scholarships in all subject fields. A wide range of scholarships is available at all career levels, right from students to mid-career researchers or established scientists and academicians.