Compared to other countries, France has an unusual and complex system of higher education. In virtually all countries in the world, the pinnacle of the education system, the institutions providing the finest centres of excellence, are universities. Not so in France. While France has close to a hundred universities, most of them able to hold their own as regards teaching and research with middle-of-the-range universities in other parts of Europe, the peak of the education pinnacle in France is represented by the country’s “Grandes Ecoles”, relatively small and highly selective “schools” (in the American sense of the word) which provide a cosseted higher education to the nation’s future elites – tomorrow’s “haut fonctionnaires” (senior civil servants), leaders of industry, top military brass, top politicians, engineers, physicists and others. In spite of the national preocupation with equality and equal opportunities, the top end of the French higher education systems is elitist.
Student fees in France
Basic standard student fees in France for the 2011-2012 academic year are 181.57 €uros per year for undergraduates, and 249.57 € per year for post graduate Master’s courses – plus a few extras that may add on less than 100 €. Students are also eligible for subsidised student restaurants, basic but very cheap student residences (though demand well outstrips supply for rooms in residences) bus passes and discounts in many places. In addition, students from low-income backgrounds get grants; French student grants in 2010-11 vary from just exemption from paying tuition fees, to exemption + 4370 € per year, and are means related.
Entry into higher education:
French universities are open to all “bacheliers”, that is students who have passed their baccalauréat. However, while some types of degree course are open to all comers (notably courses in arts faculties and social sciences), scientific and medical courses are usually only open to students who have passed a scientific baccalauréat.
Accredited Higher Education Institutions – France
• Agro ParisTech ( Paris )
• Aix-Marseille University ( Aix-en-Provence )
• American Graduate School in Paris ( Paris )
• American University of Paris ( Paris )
• Artois University ( Arras )
• Arts et Métiers ParisTech ( Paris )
• Audencia School of Management ( Nantes )
• BEM Bordeaux Management School ( Talence )
• Blaise Pascal University ( Clermont-Ferrand )
• Centre d’Études Diplomatiques et Stratégiques, Paris ( Paris )
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