Some 9,992 students from abroad studying in France took the The International Impact of International Students in France survey, and it examined geographical origin, study level, benefits of government scholarships and types of higher education institutions.
“Our figures on the arrival of international students show that the sector has already recovered. We have even exceeded our pre-Covid figures,” Olivier Marichalar, manager of institutional communication at Campus France, told The PIE News.
North Africa was the biggest demographic of students coming to France at 32%, closely followed by sub-Saharan Africa by 24% – Europe shared 20% of the international student cohort, Asia and Oceania together shared 16% and the Americas had 8%.
“The figures for 2022 indicate a particularly marked recovery over the last year for the Americas: with 15% more students, this is the region that is experiencing the strongest growth, thanks in particular to North America whose students progress by 43%,” Marchelar said.
“The figures in Latin America and the Caribbean increased by 14%, those in South America by 4%,” he said.
Another notable finding of the survey was that almost half (49%) of those studying in France are studying at the master’s level. A further 31% are studying bachelors degrees – but the statistics show masters is currently dominating the French intake market.
“Being able to work on a student visa is really an advantage”
One of the most outstanding parts that the survey showed was the vitality of jobs to international students’ studies in France – almost half of those responding said they worked during their studies in the country.
A majority of students, the survey says, declare that “paid activities”, i.e. student jobs, are “essential to meet their spending”. Some 34% of respondents said jobs were a frequent source of income to fund their studies.
“Being able to work on a student visa is really an advantage. However, it requires a lot of effort and organisation,” said Marichalar.
“Our economy has recovered, therefore many international students have resumed their part-time jobs, thus financing their stay in France becomes easier,” he added.
In terms of funding studies, over three-quarters cited familial and sibling financial assistance, while personal savings were mentioned by just under half of the cohort.
CAF – the French equivalent of social security – was mentioned by 46% of respondents, but just 18% said they relied upon scholarships from either the French government or their countries of origin.
Directly, students are directly benefiting the economy at a figure of €1.35bn – taking into account their own expenditure, their tuition and other aspects related to their studies specifically.
The rest of the €5bn figure comes from the other benefits brought by international students; according to the survey, they are not only bolstering the education sector through their economic input, but also other sectors.
Almost 40% of those studying in France had visits from their families and friends during their stay – staying an average of 23 days – generating €1,692 to reach France for each visit.
Prior to going to France, over a quarter of international students spend an average over €1,500 on French lessons.
The survey showed quite clearly that Covid had a heavily negative impact on international students in France. Over 50% of students “incurred additional expenses” as a result, and 62% of those responding called Covid a “negative impact on their income”.
A further 60% also said that relatives’ trips were cancelled as a result of the pandemic.
“Our figures on the arrival of international students show that the sector has already recovered”
Marichalar also said that in terms of tourism, France’s borders being open means there is no longer such an impediment for families to travel and visit the students.
“The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee) recently published a study on tourist attendance in France during the summer of 2022, compared to the summer of 2019. This study reveals that attendance in 2022 is higher to 2019 tourist attendance in hotels and campsites,” Marichalar commented further.
The accommodation situation was evenly split, with 50% in so-called individual accommodation, while 48% report being in collective residences – most of those in individual accommodation were in their own furnished rentals, and 17% had roommates.
Students are spending around €867 a month on average, and while the increase in price is “evident throughout Europe”, France registered the lowest inflation of the EU. Despite this statistic, Marichalar insisted that any increase is being monitored and “taken seriously” by the government – especially in terms of living conditions.
“The Ministry for Higher Education and Research announced a 2023 budget that is €1.1bn superior to that of 2022, these new funds serving, among other priorities, the improvement of living conditions of students,” he added.