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Campus France: language, financial concerns barriers to study abroad

A recent Campus France survey of 26,000 students in higher education in France has tried to understand barriers that prevent many of these students from studying abroad. Its latest research reveals that 2 in 3 students currently have no overseas study experience, despite participation numbers rising.

Almost three-quarters of university students in France do not study overseas for any period

In 2013, 73,354 French students, or 3.5% of the student population, pursued an international experience

Language barriers, reluctance to leave their home environments and costs are some of the major barriers for French students who want to pursue an international experience.

The research found that 38% of students who didn’t follow through with their planned programme abroad attributed it to concerns around their language competencies.

Another 32% said that they did not want to leave their home environments, while another 32% attributed finances as a barrier to a study abroad experience.

“If higher institutions from different countries can meet each other and develop student exchange, it can certainly help”

Referring to higher education as a whole, “almost all students are financially supported by their families,” the report, written by Didier Rayon, deputy head of research & surveys at Campus France, states.

Furthermore, close to half of students (47%) say they are “somewhat concerned” about the future with regards to their financial situations.

In this context, the report says that an international mobility programme carries the risk of being perceived by many as another financial burden, adding to students’ financial worries about their professional future.

“Among the reasons for abandoning the projects, 30% did so because of financial constraints, or anticipation of financial drawbacks,” a Campus France spokesperson told The PIE News.

The students assessed that their mobility bursary totaled on average €2,416, or almost 40% of the estimated cost of their stay abroad.

In addition, 41% of students benefit from public funding or other bursary schemes to finance their international experience.

However, the interest among students to go abroad remains high, according to the study, with 85% of the responding students admitting they were interested in a mobility experience.

Despite financial concerns, the number of students undertaking a study period or placement abroad is on the rise.

According to UNESCO, in 2013, 73,354 French students, or 3.5% of the student population, pursued an international experience – an increase of 34% from 2008.

This has also resulted in a 28% increase over a 10 year period.

“Almost all students are financially supported by their families”

French students also make up 2.1% of the world’s mobile student population, the same proportion as students from Saudi Arabia. China, India, Germany and Korea claim the top four highest proportions.

The spokesperson said that institutions could help increase the number of students going abroad by “taking care of the administrative side of mobility” as well as “finding suitable programmes for their students”.

“It is clear that the expansion of international mobility goes with helping students in finding the right programme in the right institutions in the host country,” she said.

“If higher institutions from different countries can meet each other and develop student exchange, it can certainly help. Campus France aims at facilitating thes type of partnerships.”

A number of initiatives organised by the government aim to increase the number of outbound students, including the “année de césure” [gap year], implemented in July last year.

“[It is] there to help students take a year off and make the most of it, including going abroad,” said the spokesperson. “It’s one step.”

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