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Want to go to university in France?

The HE system in France

  • there are 82 state universities, plus 5 Catholic universities (and a large number of private “institutes”, some of which award degrees)
  • universities are officially known by the name of the city in which they are located (ie there are 13 institutions called the University of Paris, numbered by city area 1 to XIII)
  • level of French needed: reasonable-high standard, depending on course chosen
  • a first (Bachelor’s) degree takes 3 years and is called a Licence


  • French universities are open to all bacheliers, ie. students who have passed their baccalauréat (or UK equivalent)
  • unlike the UK there are no caps on home (EU) student numbers (except in certain courses such as Medicine), so if you are suitably qualified, you should be accepted
  • France does, however, have a high dropout (& weed-out) rate – for those who don’t make the grade in the first year


  • write to/research/visit the university and UFR (faculty) in which you wish to enroll, to check that  you’d be happy studying/living there
  • apply after you have your A level (or equivalent) results; you’ll need a dossier d’inscription (enrolment form) and a demande de validation des acquis (in order to get French validation of your UK qualifications)
  • then wait for your application to be processed


  • are  heavily subsidized by the state
  • are the same for French residents as for EU  students from outside France
  • current undergraduate degree fees are around 170 Euros pa

Grandes Ecoles

The elite universities are the 220 Grandes Ecoles – of which the best-known is Ecole Polytechnique, founded in 1794. Grandes ecoles:

  • are very well funded
  • have small classes
  • are elitist: they educate about 4% of the French population
  • entry is at bac+2 level, ie. the level of the third year of university studies
  • to get into a grande école, many students stay on at a  Lycée for two years after the baccalauréat, taking preparation classes, les classes préparatoires

For information on French universities, go to:

Information provided by ISCO, thanks as always to the Helen Rogers, the Regional Director.



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