France is an ideal destination to pursue higher education qualifications due to its world-class and prestigious universities, renowned internationally for quality education and expertise. France’s teaching, research, rich culture, student population, gastronomy, and liveliness attracts thousands of international students worldwide. Living and studying in France is a wholesome experience, in terms of cultural perspective, diversity, language-learning, social life, and, of course, academic expertise.
In the following sections, you will find the latest information regarding international student statistics in France:
International Student Statistics in France
According to the latest statistics, international student numbers in France are currently at 370,000 international students enrolled in higher education institutions. The international student population in France has been on the rise in recent years, mainly due to the prestige that France’s higher education system offers. In total, there are over 2.5 million higher education students in France.
International student statistics in France through the past years:
- In 2020/2021, there were 370,000 international students in France.
- In 2019/2020, there were 358,000 international students in France.
- In 2018/2019, there were 343,000 international students in France.
- In 2016/2017, there were 324,000 international students in France.
France has a long tradition in education and scientific/technological research. Its innovation is showcased in the numerous achievements the country has attained in fields like telecommunications, chemistry, health, mathematics, aeronautics and space, etc. International students find France to be a great place where academic and social opportunities thrive.
- From the 2019/2020 to the 2020/2021 academic year, international student numbers in France grew by 3.35%, from 358,000 to 370,000.
- In just a matter of three years, from 2017 to 2020, France has gone from 324,000 international students to 358,000. This is a significant increase of more than 10.4%.
- Within one year, from 2019 to 2020, France has experienced an increase in international student numbers by 4.3% (from 343,000 to 358,000).
International Students in France by Country of Origin
International students in France come from around the world, which essentially means that France’s student population is diverse and multicultural. Students in higher education in France get to be part of a community of students which provides numerous opportunities to grow, not only in an academic setting but also in the cultural and personal sense.
Countries bringing the most international students in France are:
- Morocco: 41,729
- Algeria: 31,196
- China: 28,436
- Italy: 14,692
- Tunisia: 13,025
- Senegal: 12,475
Number of international students in France coming from some of the top study abroad destinations in the world:
- United States: 6,422
- Spain: 8,418
- Germany: 8,326
- Russia: 5,177
- United Kingdom: 4,112
The United States and the United Kingdom are both major destinations for international students, attracting large numbers of students from around the world. For example, the number of international students in the US is above 1 million (1,095,299), whilst the number of international students in the UK, according to the latest statistics, is 605,130.
These major destinations for international students send their fair share of students to France. The United States, for example, has brought around 6,422 of its students to France, while there are approximately 4,112 international students from the United Kingdom pursuing their higher education qualifications in France.
International Students in France by French Region
International students in France are distributed across different regions of France. However, there is a pattern of regions welcoming more numbers of international students. Find them listed below:
- Ile De France: 124,091
- Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes: 46,772
- Occitanie: 32,650
- Grand Est: 31,185
- Hauts-de-France: 24,593
One of the major cities in Ile De France is Paris, where there are many international students. Regions like Corse, Outre-Mer, and Centre-Val de Loire have a lower share of international students amongst their higher education student population.
International Students in France by Institution and Degree Level
In general, international students in France are typically more prone to attending universities than schools of business or schools of art. Statistics show that the majority of international students in France attend university.
Number of international students in the major higher education institutions:
Universities: 246,890 international students.
Schools of Business: 36,790 international students.
Schools of Engineering: 26,216 international students.
Schools of Art and Architecture: 10,313 international students.
Preparatory Programmes: 16,350 international students.
Other: 21,446 international students.
The majority of international students at French universities are studying at the undergraduate level (122,086 students) in bachelor programmes (known as a licence in France). Other international students at universities in France are either studying a master or doctorate, although those in the doctorate level are lower in number.
International Students at French Universities by Study Field
International students are divided equally between science (31%) and social sciences, literature, and humanities (31%). These are the top study choices for international students at French universities. In addition, some students have also undertaken programmes in health and medicine (8%), law and political science (12%), and economics (18%).
Frequently Asked Questions About France
How Many Higher Education Institutions Does France Have?
France has over 3,500 higher education institutions, public and private included. There are around 80 universities, the vast majority of which are state universities. Others are doctoral schools, business schools, engineering schools, and public schools of art and architecture. Many institutions (~3000) are private schools and institutes, some of which award degrees.
Can I Study in France in English?
It is possible to study in France in English as an international student. French universities often offer specific courses taught in English, to attract more international students and make their programmes more accessible to non-French speakers. For English-taught courses, students must prove their English proficiency; meanwhile, you may be required to demonstrate your French proficiency for French-taught programmes.
Why Study in France?
Students in France enjoy high-quality education, prestige, efficient and comprehensive classes, numerous opportunities to enhance their professional life and, among others, a diverse and multicultural environment which includes more than 350,000 international students from around the world.
The cost of studying in France is also reasonable as the government sets the tuition fees at public universities. An international student from outside of the EU/EEA will be required to pay more than home students (French, EU/EEA). However, the amount is typically around €3,000 per year for a bachelor’s degree.