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France proposes easier residence rights, better services

The French President, François Hollande, has recently announced a national plan for student life (Plan National de Vie Étudiante) in France. Included in the 35 measures of PNVE is a commitment to improving residence rights for international student graduates.

The new plan for student life in France includes some measures specifically aimed at international students. Photo: Leo Parpais

"One-stop service desks will contribute to the deployment of a welcoming culture"

Subject to approval by parliament, the PNVE is committed to creating a multi-year post-study residence permit for a maximum duration of four years, created especially for researchers / PhD students and master’s graduates.

The possibility of receiving a multi-year residence permit valid during a students’ studies will also be rolled out generally.

“The quality of the welcome [to students], notably in terms of administration, the improvement of residence rights, and the simplification of such procedures, are key issues for the attractiveness of French higher education institutions,” states the PNVE dossier.

Other measures include developing a range of quality housing – considering international students’ specific housing needs and limited search time available – and encouraging the set-up of more one-stop service desks, or “guichets unique”.

“It is absolutely compulsory to ease the procedure when you want to attract international profiles”

These are organised in conjunction with regional town halls, to help international students navigate all the processes around arriving, registering, and accessing information about life in France.

“The improvement of standards of reception, information and guidance will bring positive consequences for the attractiveness of France as a study destination,” Lisa Einhorn, director of home and student life at Campus France, told The PIE News.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 16.41.26

CIUP has run a one-stop shop for students for 10 years and produced a video explaining its joined-up services for students

She explained that one-stop desks will provide all types of services international students need in one place, following the successful example of 26 service centres already set up in France (such as CIUP, above).

In order to implement this measure, “an instruction” was sent to the rectors and principals in September to encourage them to establish these dedicated service desks by developing partnerships between prefectures and institutions.

The national plan outlines that this particular measure should be rolled out for autumn intake in 2016.

“Coming to France asks for a lot of administration which is often complicated to understand,” noted Einhorn. “These one-stop welcome desks will allow international students to complete all of their registration requirements in one place.”

“Their further development will ensure access to adequate services for international students”

“Their further development will ensure access to adequate services for international students over the whole territory and will contribute to the deployment of a welcoming culture.”

According to a Campus France survey of 20,000 international students in 2013, nine out of 10 respondents said they would recommend France as a study destination and held a positive view of their time there.

However, according to Einhorn, the negative feedback was in relation to “the difficulties with administrative processes but also in obtaining housing and social integration”.

Aurélien Krejbich, head of the centre of Europe at Sciences Po in Paris, welcomed the new governmental intervention.

“The plan notably aims for a better coordination between universities and the préfectures in order to simplify the life of international students and avoid them an administrative nightmare,” she told The PIE News.

“It is absolutely compulsory to ease the procedure when you want to attract international profiles.”

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