France - Country Commercial Guide
Educational Services (EDU)

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-10-12

Overview 

 Academic Year

2017/2018

2018/2019

2019/2020

2020/2021 (Estimated)

Foreign students in France

 323,933

 358,005

 370,052

 n/a

French students in France

 2,680,000

 2,678,700

 2,725,300

 2,780,000

French students in the world

 80,500

 89,379

 99,488

 n/a

International students in the U.S. 

 1,094,792

 1,095,299

 1,075,496

 n/a

French students in the U.S.

 8,802

 8,716

 8,471

 n/a

Exchange Rate 1 Euro

USD 1.18

USD 1.12

USD 1.14

USD 1.20

Source : https://ressources.campusfrance.org/publications/chiffres_cles/fr/

https://opendoorsdata.org/fact_sheets/france/

https://www.enseignementsup-recherche.gouv.fr/ (total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)

(Figures in USD millions; * indicates unofficial estimates.

Year to year figures adjusted for varying exchange rate.)

Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)

According to the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s BEA, Education ranked as the sixth largest services export. The U.S. hosted over one million students and reported $37 billion. During the 2019/2020 academic year, 8,471 French students pursued academic study at U.S. colleges and universities, contributing $340 million to the U.S. economy.  France is still the eighteenth leading country of origin for students coming to the United States and the fourth leading host country for U.S. students studying abroad. The number of French students in the U.S. has maintained a slow, steady increase for 10 years. However, in 2019/2020 there was a decrease of 2.8%.

Current demand

According to a survey conducted by the Institute of International Education 87% of French students believe that tuition fees at U.S. institutions of higher education are very high, particularly in comparison to the low-cost French educational system (nearly free for public universities) or ERASMUS programs in other European countries. The high comparative cost of a U.S. education explains why today more than half of the French students studying in the United States are also scholarship recipients. However, when compared to other potential study destinations, 81% of French students perceive the United States to have a superior education system. 

The impact of Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted international student mobility, with successive lockdowns, difficulty in travel, and closed borders, as well as noting the impact of Brexit and its consequences for mobility in Europe. Despite this challenging context, France saw only a moderate decline in international students. As of June 17, 2021, all travel from the United States into France is once again permitted. The United States is considered a “green zone” country. Travelers from “green zone” countries traveling into France no longer face travel restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. The French Minister of Higher Education also announced that in the Fall of 2021, 100% of classes will be held in-person.

American institutions are racing to announce plans to bring students back for on-campus learning this fall, with a growing number stipulating that students must be vaccinated for COVID-19 before their arrival. And as international students plan for the coming fall term, those who reside in countries affected by pandemic-related travel bans such as France can enter the U.S. under national interest exceptions by the U.S. Department of State. While regular services at American Embassies have not resumed worldwide, consular posts that process nonimmigrant visa applications are now prioritizing travelers with urgent needs, including students.

Leading Sub-Sectors

In 2019/20, the breakdown of the level of education being studied by French students in the US was as follows: 32.6% undergraduate students, 26.9% graduate students, 24.6% non-degree students, and 15.9% OPT (Optional Practical Training).  The most popular academic fields of study for French students in higher education in the United States in 2019/2020 are: Business/Management 23.5%, Engineering 14.2%, Social Sciences 10.2%, Math/ Computer Science 7.6%, Humanities 5.7%, and Physical/Life Sciences 5.6%.

Best prospects within this sector include a one-year program for French high-school graduates (post baccalaureate), usually between graduation and entry into French university and work/study programs (internships). 

Opportunities

France is a strong market for schools interested in diversifying their international student body. France benefits from high per-capita income, strong secondary school education, and substantial business ties with the United States. In addition, most French schools/universities have implemented the Bologna Process and shifted to a three-tier bachelor/master/doctorate education system, making the comparison of educational credentials easier. Both countries can achieve their bilateral goals in student mobility through partnerships that foster mutual recognition of their degrees, offering dual degrees and incentives such as paid internships.

American institutions may also benefit from the following opportunities:

Second & Third Tier Cities

Most U.S. colleges and universities focus their recruitment efforts on Paris. Recruitment efforts that include other cities in France in addition to Paris (particularly those with strong universities or a sister city connection) generally yield effective results.

Partnerships

The U.S. and France express their support for the Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative promoting increased student and junior researcher mobility and exchanges. This initiative aims to double the number of U.S students going to France and the number of French students coming to the United States by 2025.

Community colleges French high school students show a growing interest in community colleges as they are accessible, affordable and offer the opportunity to transfer to a university after a couple of years. 

Optional Practical Training

This has contributed to a rise in the overall number of international students in the U.S. because it allows students in science and engineering fields to stay in the country and work for 36 months. 

Resources

• Education USA/Fulbright Commission - France

Main Educational Trade Shows

• Studyrama International Studies Virtual Fair, October 9, 2021 and January 29, 2022

• L’Etudiant Study Abroad Fair in Paris: November 26-27, 28 2021 and Masters and MBA Fair: January 15th 2022 (both events will be hybrid)

Contact

U.S. Embassy - U.S. Commercial Service Commercial Specialist:
Isabelle.Singletary@trade.gov
Tel: +33 (0)1 43 12 70 63