Are you tempted by a lifestyle of eating delicious croissants for breakfast, strolls through the beautiful French countryside and shopping in the fashion capital of the world? Over 250,000 international students choose to call France home, but for many, the thought of moving to a new and exotic place can be daunting, particularly if French is not your first language. We look at what life is like for people who choose to study there from abroad and also list the best universities in France for international students.
Is university free for international students?
Studying at universities in France is not free, but it’s certainly inexpensive compared with other countries in Europe. However, where you are from and whether you choose a public or private university can make a big difference to the amount that you will need to invest. If you are a student from inside the EEA (European Economic Area) and you study at a public university then the cost of a bachelor’s is EUR 170 per year. A masters is EUR 243 per year and a PhD is EUR 380. Students from outside this zone will be required to pay EUR 2,770 for bachelors and EUR 3,770 for masters. The cost of a PhD remains the same regardless of where you are from.
For private universities, however, the cost can vary and may be significantly higher. Expect to pay anything from EUR 1,500 to 20,000. You will also be required to pay campus fees of around EUR 100 per year. If you are trying to find a university within your budget, you can also contact us to help you generate a free shortlist based on your unique requirements
Is France a good place for foreign students?
France can be a great place for international students. Firstly, there are so many international students that you will be sure to find at least a few friendly faces from your home country to make you feel less homesick. However, students who choose to venture from outside of their comfort zone and sample the real way of life in France will gain a lot more from the experience.
If you are interested in studying business then France is the perfect destination. It’s an international business hub and as such is host to many top-ranking business schools.
Is it expensive to live there?
The cost of living in France is average when compared with mainland Europe. As with anything, your lifestyle choices can make a significant impact on how much you need to get by. If you choose to live in student accommodation then you’ll pay around EUR 200 per month which is typically the cheapest option.
You can get by on around EUR 700 per month if you live outside of the major French cities. This could easily increase to EUR 1,500 if you live in Paris, the most expensive city. Make sure you research the cost of living in your choice of city and determine how feasible it will be for you before you commit.
The 5 Best Universities in France for International Students
This list is based on the best French universities according to the QS World University Rankings. We examine the institutions that rank highly whilst also having high international student scores in the index.
Université PSL was formed in 2010, and only formally established as a university in 2019. However, as a university that is formed of many constituent colleges, some of its member institutes date back to the 1700s. The university is the top-ranked university in for France in both the QS university rankings and the Times Higher Education Rankings. The university prides itself on its research facilities and is home to 2,900 international students.
The university attracts many international students each year, with around 18% of undergrad students being from abroad and 82% of postgrad. If you are looking to study a PhD then you would feel at home here, as 40% of their international student body are studying at PhD level. Overall it scores 68.4 for international students.
ÉCOLE POLYTECHNIQUE PARIS
École Polytechnique is known for being at the academic forefront of science, innovation and technology. The university was founded in 1794 and is now one of the most esteemed and elite universities in the country. It is based on the outskirts of France and boasts many honoured alumni including 3 noble prize winners. It has a very rigorous selection process and therefore attracts some of the most talented faculty members in Europe.
It scores 99 for international students and 95.8 for international faculty, making it one of the most international institutions on our list. The university is a perfect choice for students looking for a career in science and technology and includes a very well respected bachelors of science and several masters in subject areas such as ‘Data Science for Business’, ‘Eco technologies for Sustainability and Environment’ and Internet of Things: Innovation and Management.
CentraleSupélec is an institution specialising in the fields of science and engineering. Their engineering graduates are actually amongst some of the highest-paid in France. They also offer a range of highly specialised MSc programmes including cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.
Around 30% of students at CentraleSupélec are international, which rises to 81% of those studying at postgraduate level. They score 86.1 for international students, making it a great choice for anyone looking to study engineering or a science-related postgraduate programme.
ÉCOLE des Ponts – ParisTech
École Des Ponts – Paristech was founded in 1747 specialising in science, engineering and technology. While these subjects remain at the core of the institution, it now offers wider subject areas such as economics, mathematics and computer science in addition.
At the very heart of the university are its values, which include promoting a strong appreciation of different cultures and belief systems. This ensures that students embrace cultural diversity making it a great choice for international students from around the globe.
30% of the student body is foreign, and 43% work towards obtaining a double degree from abroad. It scores 99.6 for international students – the highest scoring university in France.
Founded in 1872 Sciences Po is an institution specialising in education in the fields of social sciences. Programmes include sociology, political science, humanities and economics. They also offer regional-specific social science studies, including Europe, Asia, The Middle East, Latin America, Africa and North America, spread across 7 campuses in France in locations such as Paris, Dijon and Reims.
Sciences Po scores exceptionally high on the QS World University Rankings index for international students – at 99.2 out of 100. It’s no wonder that 42% of their undergraduate students and 58% of postgraduate students choose to study there.
Looking for more information about studying in France? You may also be interested in our post on the 13 best Business Schools in France, best student cities in France or the pros and cons of studying in France.