From its position as third host country in 2011, France fell to fifth place in 2017, notes the report on key figures.
But the country still welcomed 358,000 international students in 2018-19, 21% more than five years ago.
“This position remains solid, but France has suffered for several years from the ever-increasing attraction of English as a language of instruction and the emergence of new destinations,” the report said.
“France has suffered for several years from the ever-increasing attraction of English as a language of instruction”
“In 2017, France attracted 5% of the world’s mobile students, compared to 7% five years earlier.[ly]. “
France remains a popular destination, especially for French-speaking students.
Morocco and Algeria remain the most popular countries of origin, growing faster than the international supply as a whole with increases of 23% and 42% between 2013 and 2018.
There have also been large increases in students from Côte d’Ivoire (+ 77%), Italy (+ 58%) and India (+ 130%) – although India remains only the sixteenth most a large market for France, despite the fact that large proportions of students are sent to other key destinations.
However, France benefits from a very diversified market, towards which other countries are trying to tend. Its top 10 markets represent less than half of all international students, and the top 25 countries of origin account for 70%.
While the past few years have seen growth in students from Africa and the Middle East, increases and decreases have slowed in Europe and Asia.
China, the third country of origin, sent 6% fewer students to France in 2018 compared to 2013. There has also been a downward trend in the number of Vietnamese and German students.
The French Embassy in London said PIE news that for the moment the “Welcome to France” campaign to attract international students has been temporarily suspended, although universities expect students at the start of the new year – in person or online – and that the registration procedures are underway.
“France reaffirms its desire to welcome international students and ensure that they have the best experience,” added Aurélie Bonal, spokesperson for the French Embassy in London.
“With our various colleagues from agencies promoting France’s attractiveness to the world, we are currently assessing the effects of the pandemic and especially the foreseeable reduction in mobility in the short term, but that does not call into question our long term. ”
However, some stakeholders have pointed out that the increase in tuition fees for non-EEA students is likely to have an impact on student decisions about where to study, an appeal against which is currently pending before French courts.
“Among users looking for a degree on Study.eu, France has moved from the second most popular destination country in early 2019 to the seventh in 2020 so far. The main driver of this change is the new tuition fees that apply to non-Europeans, “said Study.eu founder Gerrit Bruno Blöss.
“France has a lot to offer. French universities just need to reach the right audience ”
Our statistics clearly reflect the steady interest of European students, Blöss said, while other internationals are increasingly looking to other destinations.
“Abolishing tuition fees may not be a political option, but countries like Sweden and Finland have shown that it is possible to reposition a host country and even increase the number of students entrants despite new tuition fees.
“France has a lot to offer. French universities just need to reach the right audience and focus on how their education and the experience of French student life are different from other countries, “he added.
The country continues to see international students concentrated in certain regions. More than seven out of ten students study in only five fields, while Île-de-France, with 124,091 students, represents more than a third of the total (although the French Embassy noted that the university with the most large number of international applicants is the University of Lorraine).
The vast majority of international students also study at the baccalaureate and master’s level.
In 2018-29, 23,474 chose to do their doctorate in France. France has seen a drop in the total number of doctoral students, down 8% over five years, “even though the number of doctoral students has increased everywhere else in the world”.
More than 90,000 French students took degrees abroad in 2017. Canada, whose report recognizes that it “is experiencing a wave of popularity”, took first place in Belgium as the most popular destination.
Morocco has also been reported as an emerging destination for French students, whose number has increased ninefold in five years.