The agreement will also streamline visa processing for Indian visitors and enable 250 French graduates to remain in India for two years working for French companies.
Modi and Hollande “welcomed in particular agreement between India and France to facilitate professional experience for their students in both countries”
“The two leaders expressed their satisfaction at the growing exchanges between the two countries in the field of education and agreed to take steps to increase the number of Indian students studying in France and French students studying in India,” said a joint statement released by Hollande and Modi during the Indian Prime Minister’s inaugural visit to Europe this month.
“They welcomed in particular agreement between India and France to facilitate professional experience for their students in both countries after the completion of their courses.”
The agreement will see the rollout of France’s government-backed Volontariat International en Entreprise programme enabling French graduates to obtain work experience abroad to India, through a 12-month visa renewable for a further 12 months.
While this scheme will be limited to 250 graduates, there is no such cap on the number of Indian graduates who will be able to obtain ‘second residence permit’ allowing them to stay in France for a further year, following the 12 months already granted.
The agreement is likely to raise the number of Indian students coming to France over the next five years, Maria Mathai, director of M.M Advisory Services, which provides marketing and recruitment services for education institutions in the Indian market, told The PIE News.
Modi stopped to take a selfie with Indian students at the French National Centre for Space Studies during his trip to France
“A significant percentage of the outbound Indian student traffic is linked to future prospects in the host country,” she explained. “The typical outbound Indian student profile takes into account the quality of education, future prospects for work and immigration and cost of education.”
“With this change in work requirements, France becomes an attractive destination for Indian students.”
“And if they focus their marketing efforts then we can expect a significant increase,” she added.
There are currently some 2,600 Indian students in France, a number it hopes to double over the next five years, Francois Richier, French Ambassador to India, said last month.
The statement outlined a total of 17 bilateral agreements across fields such as climate change, smart cities and security.
Also included in the ‘people-to-people exchange’ agreements is a commitment from India to extend its Tourist Visa on Arrival – Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme to France, which was notably absent in last year’s rollout to more than 40 countries.
“With this change in work requirements, France becomes an attractive destination for Indian students”
And France will implement expedited 48-hour visa issuance for Indian tourists.
The two tourist visas will not have an immediate impact on students, but may affect prospective students’ decision about where to study in the long run.
“In the long term – over a period of 10-20 years, this will also have a positive impact,” Mathai suggested.
“More tourists means more visitors who have been exposed to the country,” she explained. “The decision to study abroad is not just about the education experience – it is also the quality of life.”