Applying for University in France


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Applying for University in France

Once you have your French baccalauréat or bac “en poche” (literally, ‘in your pocket’), French teenagers are eligible to apply to university. Any student with a bac can apply to any state universities, and in theory, as long as there is space, can sign up for any of the courses available.

Applying for University in France

Admissions for university in France are made through the government’s ParcoursUp online portal. The last date for online applications is March 20, with propositions being made to students in the month of June.

While university is open to all students in France, a major problem is that some 40% of French university students do not actually obtain a degree, which most dropping out in year one. Students are entitled to an interview with university staff to make sure their choice coincides with their abilities and potential career paths, but places are still issued on a non-selective basis. 

The upside to this system is that university courses are open to all higher education students and students are given a chance to prove themselves rather than being judged based on school reports and previous exam results.

The downside to this system however, is that the class numbers are very high, and students are often ill-prepared for the changes when moving up to university level. Since the French secondary system puts emphasis less on autonomy than on acquiring levels of knowledge and skills (one could argue that the UK system, for example, puts more emphasis on autonomy and not enough on knowledge and skills, but somehow at university you need all of this) many first year students are in deep water by the end of term one. Basic things like note-taking, organisation of personal work and researching in a library are skills which many lack.

University Life in France: Accommodation and Social Activities 

Unlike in the UK and United States, for example, university students in France rarely leave their educational district to study. Life on the campus tends to come to a halt at weekends, and students all go home to get their washing done by Mum and take enough food back for the week. This often means that there is less interactivity between students too, less time to work in libraries, and some discontinuity in the learning process.

This is why more and more students are opting for professional post-bac courses with smaller classes and more individual attention and good prospects of a job at the end of the tunnel. See our article on Vocational and Post-Bac Courses in France.

French University Fees and Accommodation

Fees in a French state university are generally very low (in the 150 euro range), however there are are also private university options for which the fees vary. For overseas students or those living away from home, the biggest cost is often accommodation. Many French universities have limited on-site accommodation for students, and therefore many students end up renting studio flats, which can be a very expensive option in some cities.

•With thanks to Jacqueline Karp

Studying in France?

From nursery through secondary school to higher education, university, and foreign exchange study programs—FrenchEntrée is here to answer all your back-to-school questions. Visit our Education zone for more on studying in France and the French school system, or find out more about raising children in France in our Family zone.

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