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: 2021-01-15

Capital:  Paris

Population:  67,848,156 (July 2020 est.)

GDP:  $2,720,926,000,000 (2019 est., Purchasing Power Parity)

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Language: French

UNESCO Student Mobility Number:

France has 89,379 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

CIA World Factbook:

30.24% of the French population is under 24 years of age.

OVERVIEW

In France, the United States is known to be home to some of the world’s best colleges and universities.   As English is the language of business and diplomacy in the European Union, there is growing interest in studying in English-speaking countries, such as the United States.  The ability to speak English in a professional setting gives French students a competitive edge in the employment market.  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.  Accordingly, with a well-thought-out strategy, U.S. academic institutions have a unique opportunity to attract French students.

The number of French students attending school in the United States rose steadily in the 1990s peaking at 7,401 students in 2001/02.  After a three-year decline, the number of French students began to rise again in 2007/08.  Since then, the number of French students in the U.S. has maintained a slow, steady increase for nearly 10 years; the growth rate even surpassed 5% in 2014/15 for the first time since 2010/11.  In the 2018/19 academic year, there was a slight decrease of 1% and this year the decrease was 2.8%
.

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.  For French students studying overseas, the U.S. is the second-most popular destination (behind the United Kingdom).  The United States and France expressed their support for the Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative, which promotes 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, and it is endorsed by the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, the Institute of International Education, and NAFSA, the Association of International Educators.

Year

# of Students

From France

% Change from

Previous Year

# of U.S. Study Abroad Students Going to France

2019/20

8,471

-2.8%

n/a

2018/19

8,716

-1.0%

18,465 (+7.4%)

2017/18

8,802

-0.1%

 17,185

2016/17

8,814

0.6%

16,462

2015/16

8,764

0.2%

17,214

2014/15

8,743

5.3%

18,198

2013/14

8,302

0.1%

17,597

2012/13

8,297

0.8%

17,210

2011/12

8,232

1.7%

17,168

2010/11

8,098

5.0%

17,019

2009/10

7,716

4.0%

17,161

2008/09

7,421

5.3%

16,910

2007/08

7,050

5.2%

17,250

Note: Study abroad figures from Open Doors reflect credit given by U.S. campuses during the survey year to their students who studied abroad in the academic year just completed, including the summer term.

SUB-SECTORS

Academic Level

There are 8,471 French students studying in the U.S., which comprises 0.008% of total international students in the United States.  The undergraduate level is most common time for French students to go abroad, but other levels are also represented.  In 2019/20, the breakdown of education levels was as follows: 32.6% undergraduate students, 26.9% graduate students, 24.6% non-degree students, and 15.9% OPT (Optional Practical Training).

  • Undergraduate: 2,761 students
  • Graduate: 2,282 students
  • Non-degree: 2,085 students
  • OPT: 1,343 students

Fields of Study

In 2019/20: Business/Management 23.5%, Engineering 14.2%, Social Sciences 10.2%, Fine/Applied Arts 5.5%, Math/ Computer Science 7.6%, Humanities 5.7%, Physical/Life Sciences 5.6%, Health Professions 1.2%, Education .8%, Intensive English .6%, Undeclared 4.1%, Other 21%

Community Colleges

Community colleges are an important financial option for French students looking for a U.S. education at a more affordable price.  French high school students show a growing interest in community colleges as they are accessible and offer the opportunity to transfer to a university after a couple of years.

Research and Development

Optional Practical Training 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.  This has made studying in America more desirable – particularly for STEM majors.

OPPORTUNITIES

American educational institutions can take advantage of the importance placed on English language abilities as well as the current state of the French labor market.  In Q3 of 2020, the unemployment rate in France was 9% with a 19.6% unemployment rate for those under 25 years old.  This has led to a “race for diplomas” among French students.  Studying abroad has become a great way for graduates to enhance their resume for future positions. 

According to a survey conducted by the IIE, many French students find the cost of studying in the United States to be a major obstacle.  Approximately 87% of them believe that tuition fees at U.S. institutions of higher education are very high, particularly in comparison to the low-cost French educational system (for public universities) or ERASMUS programs (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) in other European countries.  Therefore, in crafting a recruitment strategy, U.S. institutions should consider that studying in the United States represents an important investment for many French students.  The high comparative cost of a U.S. education explains why more than half of the French students studying in the United States are also scholarship recipients.  However, when compared to other potential study destinations, most prospective students from France perceive the United States to have a superior education system (81%).

American institutions may also benefit from the social media opportunities:

  1. What platforms do students in your country use most?

    Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn but also Pinterest, Tik Tok, Snapchat…
  1. What are the most popular social media sites for students in your country?

    Youtube, Instagram is becoming more and more popular for students less than 25 years old, Tik Tok is also used by high school students

     
  2. How do students in your country research information on any given topic?

    Google, Youtube (for tutorials)

     
  3. What platforms do students use to search for job opportunities?

    LinkedIn, Indeed, Keljob

     
  4. What platform is the most popular for streaming videos in your country?

    Youtube
     
  5. What platforms do in-country schools and competitor countries use to reach students in your country?

    Instagram / YouTube (less and less Facebook and Twitter)

     
  6. How do students and parents in your country receive information about educational opportunities?

    Via the local CIO but also from the fairs organized by L’Etudiant and Studyrama

     
  7. Please provide recommendations for U.S. study state consortia and/or educational institutions as they build on their digital outreach strategies in your country?

    Contact U.S. Commercial Service and EducationUSA

EVENTS

AAWE- Council of International Schools – Western Europe virtual event - October 2020

https://www.aaweparis.org/images/UniversityFairWesternEurope.pdf

Studyrama International Studies Fair, Virtual events- Nov/Dec/Jan 2021

https://www.studyrama.com/salons/

Salon Go Study Abroad, Virtual events - Oct/Nov 2021

https://www.letudiant.fr/espace-pro/decouvrez-l-etudiant/l-etudiant-a-l-international.html

RESOURCES

U.S. COMMERCIAL SERVICE CONTACT

Isabelle Singletary, Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service – Paris, France

Email: isabelle.singletary@trade.gov

Phone: +33 01 43 12 70 63