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France: business schools see two-fold int’l increase

The amount of international students studying in France’s business schools has more than doubled in five years, data has shown.

HEC Paris was ranked first place in the Financial Times European Business Schools Ranking for the fourth consecutive year. Photo: Unsplash

Students from Asia-Pacific make up 30% of international students in France's business schools

According to data from Campus France, between 2016 and 2021, the number of international students enrolled in the country’s business schools grew by 104%.

France’s business schools attract international students in large numbers, some 55,000 of them enrolled during the 2021/22 university year, Olivier Marichalar, head of studies, press and communication, Campus France told The PIE.

According to the data, more than one in five students in business schools are international and no other type of establishment receives such a large proportion of foreign students.

Students from Asia-Pacific make up 30% of international students in business schools, with 19% coming from China and a significant number coming from India with 7%.

“These institutions attract students from countries whose mobility towards France has developed very fast these last years, like India and Lebanon, for instance,” said Marichalar.

Between 2016 and 2021, the number of international students from Lebanon studying in the country’s business school’s has almost quadrupled, with a staggering growth of 286%.

Source: Campus France

In the same period of time, the number of Indian students has more than tripled, growing 219%.

There has also been significant growth from those international students from the Ivory Coast, an 195% increase, and for those from Cameroon, at a rate of 186%.

Marichalar said the overall growth is linked to a series of factors, including the numerous opportunities of studying in English at these institutions, as well as many being “highly distinguished” across world rankings each year.

In the 19th edition of the Financial Times European Business Schools Ranking, 24 of 95 schools ranked were in France, including four in the top 10. As HEC Paris secured first place for the fourth consecutive year, ESCP Business School ranked third position.

“Many put in place strong internationalisation strategies and are very much present abroad during fairs, but also through offshore campuses, resulting in a strong international development during recent years,” Marichalar added.

According to Olivier, the training model within France’s business schools is particularly appealing to international students as it offers long-term internships within international companies.

“Having a work experience during their studies is valuable,” he noted.

These programs offer a distinctive learning experience

Since July 2022, international students enrolled in master’s degrees have been able to access to apprenticeship and training contracts in France, allowing them to split their time between attending classes and working for a company in the same field of study, while earning a salary. Previously, these contracts were only available to international students after a one-year stay in the country.

Salah Hassanein, CEO and co-founder of Paris-based edtech company StudentGator, told The PIE that this change has been a contributing factor to the “remarkable growth” of international students in France’s business schools, particularly for French-speaking countries.

“These programs offer a distinctive learning experience by combining academic education with practical work experience,” said Hassanein.

“International students are particularly attracted to these programs as they provide valuable industry exposure and enhance their employability prospects.”

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