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International Students’ Top Reasons to Study in France

By Tiina Niemi

Updated April 14, 2021 Updated April 14, 2021

International students consider France a good place for an international study experience. This is supported by the results of the StudyPortals International Student Satisfaction Awards 2014. Almost 7,000 students commented on their experiencing of studying abroad on the world’s largest database of international student experiences, STeXX.eu. A total of 329 reviewers gave 787 comments about what it was like to study in France. Overall, France received an average rating of 8.3 out of 10, which is significantly higher than its score in 2013.

Out of 13 universities in France which received an award, four received a “Certificate for Excellent Student Satisfaction”, getting average ratings of 9 out of 10. Université Aix-Marseille placed first, followed by Université François-Rabelais (Tours), Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3. A further nine universities in France were considered “very good”.

Why study in France?

According to students reporting on what it was like to study in France, the country offers a great multicultural study experience, bringing together cultures from all over the world. Students appreciate the beautiful, developed cities and the great variety of social life available. Impressions about French culture and city life were overall more positive than the European average. Even the smaller cities offered opportunities for fun student activities.

Students were also pleased with the close proximity to other European countries and major cities, commenting on opportunities to explore the country and its surroundings. Reviewers seem pleased with the events organized by universities in France and the friends they made during their international study experience. Students rarely complain about the weather in France, considering it better than in many other parts of Europe.

“A semester in Paris and particularly in Sorbonne was a breath-taking experience for me. First, the city of Paris invited me to try thousands of adventures. Every minute there was a discovery. Being a student in Paris is a great advantage as you can visit museums, events, cinema and more, with discounts. Secondly, Sorbonne has an open-minded yet classical spirit: I enjoyed the lectures and library a lot. Thirdly, in Paris and in Sorbonne you can meet interesting people. Fourth, Cite U was a perfect place to live a student life: I had a single room, so I had privacy, and at the same time I could eat in the canteen, walk in a beautiful Cite U park, watch movies, theatre plays and use the media library for residents.” – student from Russia 

“Tours is a great city: it is perfect for a students' life and it is also very safe for young people. It is not very big, but it is very pretty: you can easily make new friends and enjoy your weekend with lots of French people and Erasmus students like you.” – student from Italy

Student in Paris
Students who studied in France were generally happy with the international reputation of their universities and the generally high academic standards. Universities in France provide good opportunities to conduct research in modern facilities and offer a wide range of study subjects. Most classes are conducted in French, but there exists a good amount of courses taught in English. Students were happy with the opportunity to advance their French language skills through rewarding social interactions.

“It's interesting to study in an elite school for a while. The studying climate is very inspiring and the students are highly motivated. There are lots of student associations to work on projects that are important to you, where you can find other people with similar interests and views. The classes are not necessarily better than at your home university. But most of the professors are interested in you as a person, and will support you in your academic goals.” – student from Austria

“Most international students speak in the local language (French) and not in English, classes at the university are held in French, too, so the language skills improve quickly. There are students from all over the world, though, so it's easy to find a language buddy to learn other languages than French.” – student from Poland

Possible challenges of studying in France

Most students’ comments show that studying in France is a generally enriching experience. However, there are some challenges incoming students should take into account. Some students report they did not like the teaching style of professors in the country, having found French teachers too conservative and not open to discussions. Students also complained more than the European average about the services provided by universities in France.

For more information about the International Student Satisfaction Awards and universities in France, visit the StudyPortals country report. Students who would like to study in France can also compare more than 500 English-taught master’s degrees as well as more than 200 bachelor’s programs, taught in French, English and other languages.

This article was originally published in January 2015 . It was last updated in April 2021

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Written by

Tiina comes from Finland and currently lives in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. She works in research and PR at StudyPortals. Before moving to the Netherlands, Tiina lived in Germany and in Italy. In her free time she enjoys baking cakes and doing all kind of sports. 

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