France has also launched a call for proposals under a new “PEA” partnership program and is committing significant funds for bilateral education projects with key African countries.
Addressing prospective international students via video, Beatrice Khaiat, director of Campus France in Paris, said (in English and French versions): “I want to address you, international students who plan to study abroad and tell you, “Choose France, you are welcome in France.”
“We need you, we want you, you are expected here”
She reminded viewers that international student make up part of the community “in labs and universities who are fighting.. to find a vaccine”.
“You are part of the researchers [in] France; we need you, we want you, you are expected here,” she said.
Flagging the Campus France offices throughout the world that can help finalise applications, Khaiat added, “French universities, business schools, engineering schools, they all want you and you are welcome here.”
She is joined in one video by Jacques Fayolle, president of the engineering schools alliance CDEFI. In another, by Alice Guilhon, president of management schools’ alliance, Conference des Grandes Écoles.
Guilhon said, “I wanted to tell you that French business schools, which are renowned for their international culture, are eagerly waiting to welcome you to their various campuses from the start of the next academic year.
“More than ever, your openness, cultural, linguistic, and digital knowledge will be essential for your entry into this new economy [post-Covid-19],” she said.
Guilhon explained that students could be taught virtually at first if necessary, with personalised support, before physically arriving on campus.
“We are offering you a hybrid education that will make you distinct and capable, enable to build foundations for a more sustainable and healthy society.”
France welcomed 358,000 international students in 2018/19 and is among the top five host countries for globally mobile students.
The six most significant source countries – accounting for 40% of all foreign student intake – were: Morocco, Algeria, China, Italy, Tunisia and Senegal.
France has always had strong mobility links with Francophone Africa and the government also announced this week a commitment to fund several projects – at between €1.5m – €3.5m – that foster the development of strategic sectors in African economies.
A commitment to fund projects that foster the development of strategic sectors in African economies
Aims for the PEA (Partenariats avec l’enseignement supérieur africain) are to improve access to high quality education & training in Africa, to respond to the local socio-economic needs; to help the development of partnerships; and to foster students and teacher mobility between French and African partners.
This is in the context of the “Bienvenue en France” strategy managed by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs; the Ministry for Higher Education, Research and Innovation; and Campus France.
The PEA program is targeted to 18 African countries defined as priorities by the French government: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Comores, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Chad and Togo.
Other efforts being taken, meanwhile, to promote interest in France include regular Q&A sessions with French alumni during the lockdown period.