When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

In Search Of Foreign Students, French Universities Seduce With Their Scholarship

France’s universities have made major headway in attracting foreign students in recent years. But more needs to be done if the country’s top schools hope to score better on international rankings and draw more of the world’s best and brightest.

La Sorbonne's campus in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates
La Sorbonne's campus in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates
Jean-Claude Lewandowski

PARIS – Members of higher education's high society, a group that includes the minister of education, university presidents and even investors, have been putting their heads together of late in an effort to improve the international image of France's universities. Their goal – as unimaginable as it may have seemed just a couple of years ago – is to show that France's top schools can compete in the world market.

Admittedly, the universities don't exactly shine in international rankings. In the Shanghai rankings, Paris-Sud, the highest ranking French institution, was 40th on the international list. Part of that is because of the extremely decentralized nature of French higher education – the system is split up between 85 universities and 220 grandes écoles – and the organization of research institutes.

However, when it comes to increasing their attractiveness, French Universities have made substantial progress. Currently they receive more than 280,000 foreign students per year (more than half of whom are in master's or doctorate programs). France has the third largest number of foreign students worldwide, behind only the United States and the UK. And more and more courses are offered in English.

"Promotion of the French language has given way to courses in English," Louis Vogel, the president of the conferences of University presidents, noted during an event last week called "Discovering French Universities," which brought together many of France's higher education policy makers.

Some institutions, following the example set by the grandes écoles, have started to open overseas campuses. Dauphine has a campus in Tunis, the Sorbonne has a campus in Abu Dhabi and Panthéon-Assas has a law school in Singapore.

A Better Welcome

Above all, educational reforms first implemented in 2007, including changes to the French equivalent of the bachelor's degree and the creation of a research and teaching center, have begun to bear fruit. Universities have become more active and self-confident. The launch of various different foundations has also increased motivation in the higher education sector, even if universities are not rolling in dough.

"Between 2009 and 2011, the expenditures per student have decreased slightly," said Yannick Lung, president of Bordeaux-IV. In 2009, the average expenditure per student was 10,220 euros.

There's still a major obstacle to overcome: the physical reception of international students. Several French campuses, including the Cité Universitaire in Paris, offer acceptable accommodations for students. But there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Even more worrying is that the international campaign happens to coincide with a recommendation from the interior minister that would prevent foreign students from starting their careers in France. The financial requirements for students wishing to study in France have also become more stringent, a change that university presidents, the grand écoles and business groups all opposed. "It discourages students from coming," stressed Louis Vogel. "You have to have a long-term vision."

Even in this regard, though, things are getting better. Most universities have an office dedicated to foreign students. La Rochelle, for example, has a number of master's students from Asia. "We offer them everything they need to succeed," assures Fernando Pedraza Diaz, vice-president of international actions.

In Strasbourg and Lille, Erasmus students are hosted in families over the weekend. Many sites offer international students special streamlined services to make things as easy as possible. Indeed, there are many signs that the universities are trying to get ahead. Speaking to reporters during the Discovering French Universities event in Paris, politician Laurent Wauqiuez summed things up nicely – in English. "French university is back."

Read the original article in French

Photo – Panoramas

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest