Want to study for your degree in Europe? Why not choose France with its high quality of living, vibrant cities, excellent food and its numerous world-class universities, such as the renowned École normale supérieure? Read on to find out if you are eligible, how to apply and how much it would cost to study in France.
Am I eligible?
In order to study on a degree course in France, you first of all need to have passed exams to Baccalaureat standard (equivalent to A Level). Specific entry requirements will be different according to the course being applied for and the institution it will be taught at. If you want to apply to one of the Grandes Écoles – the most prestigious universities in the country – you will need to complete two years of intensive preparatory training (CPGE – Classe préparatoire aux grandes écoles) and sit an exam to then be able to apply. Even at this stage it is only those who perform best in the exam that are likely to receive a place.
Generally, courses are taught in French, and international applicants will need to prove their proficiency in French. It is possible that the institute you are applying to will ask you to prove your level of French by taking a test provided by the French Ministry of Education. The TCF (test de connaissance du français) exam, for example, is often used by French universities. This test is graded according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, with A1 indicating beginner and C2 indicating the most advanced level. A C1 level is what is normally required for entry into a higher education degree course.
How to apply
To apply to a French university, your first port of call should be their equivalent to UCAS – the admission-postbac. Although not all universities use this service, it is the most common route for university applications.
Applications should be submitted between mid-January and mid-March for courses beginning in autumn. You are able to apply to a number of courses at once, and order them according to your preferences.
How much does it cost?
Tuition fees at public universities are very low, at less than 200 euro for the year (the Grandes Écoles can charge tuition fees of up to 10,000 euro). This is the same for international students.
The cost of living is similar to the UK away from the big urban centres, but it is decidedly higher in Paris.
What funding is available?
UK students studying in France will not have access to the UK student loan. However, there are a number of potential sources of funding available in France. The Ministère des Affaires Étrangères offers some grants to foreign students (the Bourse d’études). To find out about applying, you should contact the Department of Cooperation and Cultural Action of the French Embassy in the UK. If you are awarded a grant, the CNOUS (Centre National des Oeuvres Universitaires et Scolaries) will help you with your move to France, by finding accommodation and helping you to enroll at university, for example.
Foreign students are also eligible to apply for housing assistance, once they are resident in France. This is provided by the Caisse d’Allocations Familiales (CAF).
If you do not receive financial support, or if you need to supplement this support, you could take up employment. Students in France are permitted to work up to 964 hours a year. Another option is to take out a bank loan in the UK, but this would need to be paid back regardless of your ability to do so.
If you decide to study in France, you can ship your luggage there with Send My Bag. This will help you quickly set up home in France and allow you to get on with discovering your new surroundings. Click here to learn more about shipping to France. You can also visit our student shipping page to find about more about student removals and how to receive your student discount. Take a look at our travel essentials checklist to make sure you have packed everything you need for your time abroad.
Instead of taking your whole degree course in France, you could spend your third year abroad in France as part of the Erasmus+ scheme or the British Council Language Assistantship programme.
If France isn't your thing, why not look into the possibility of studying in Spain or Germany? If your only language is English you could consider taking a degree course in Europe that is taught in English.
For most UK students, time spent in Europe is restricted to a third year abroad, usually as part of the Erasmus+ scheme or a language assistantship. But a significant number of students are choosing to complete their full degree course in a university on mainland Europe.