France to help Indian students begin classes for 2020 academic year through virtual classrooms
France said on Monday it is exploring novel ways to maintain cooperation with India amid the Covid-19 crisis, especially in education, and has augmented the proportion of scholarships for this academic year by 50% or Rs 10 crore.
The efforts are focused on maintaining people-to-people exchanges despite lockdowns and suspension of events. France also intends to turn the Covid-19 crisis into opportunities to boost partnerships in education, research and culture.
France is fully geared to enable the start of the academic year for new students through virtual classrooms, if necessary. Authorities are hoping students will be able to join their classes in France in autumn, if not in September.
“France has also augmented its proportion of scholarships by 50% – equivalent to 10 crore rupees – for this academic year. These scholarships will be awarded regardless of whether a student starts the semester in India or France,” said a statement from the French embassy.
French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said: “The strategic partnership between India and France is nurtured through strong people-to-people ties. As France and India gradually emerge from their lockdowns, their exchanges will serve as building blocks for a new world and a common future.”
Trusted global scientific collaboration is the need of the hour since no country can achieve a breakthrough alone in the Covid-19 crisis, he said. “Our country recognises that education will play a critical role in shaping a post-pandemic world, and thus reiterates that Indian students and researchers are welcome in France,” he added.
Notwithstanding logistical and planning challenges, France will continue to welcome Indian students for higher studies. France has taken care of its foreign students on an equal footing with their French counterparts, ensuring their safety and well-being through its social and public healthcare system. Visas and scholarships were extended, where necessary, amid the Covid-19 crisis.
The French Embassy will also organise a virtual version of its biannual “Choose France Tour” at the end of September for the intake of students for the 2021 academic session. This will enable more French institutions to interact with students from all over India.
The French government is also committed to the National Plan for Open Science, and the third edition of the Indo-French Knowledge Summit is scheduled in Pune in 2021 to bring health and the environment into greater focus.
French network programmes are adapting to the situation arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, and Alliance Française centres in more than 13 Indian cities have arranged online classes during the lockdown. This has ensured continuity in French language lessons for more than 31,000 students.
The statement said France remains one of the most affordable destinations for higher education, with many institutions boasting some of the highest global standards and offering more than 1,500 courses taught in English. Business and engineering programmes are the most sought after, though France has courses in niche areas as well.
The latest global rankings have shown four of the six best animation schools of the world are in France, including Rubika, which has a campus in Pune.
On the cinematic front, while the Cannes festival will be missed, a film market will be held online in June and there will be online professional meetings for the film industry. “With more and more streaming platforms, there is a great potential for Indo-French collaborations and exchanges,” the statement said.
The French embassy is continuing collaborations with Indian partners, such as the launch of the Serendipity Arles grant that provides opportunities for artists from South Asia to participate in the Arles Photography Festival next year. The Assises Internationales du Roman/Villa Gillet in Lyon recently saw the virtual participation of Indian writers.
India will also remain the guest of honour country at the 2021 Paris Book Fair, for which preparations are underway.
The French Institute in India, through its #ifionlineprogramme, is bringing France to Indian homes through films, documentaries, museum visits, online training, and dance and music performances.