International Students Return to France in 2021 Following the Pandemic

After a drop in numbers in 2020 following the COVID-19 pandemic, students returned to France in 2021.

Campus France published Key Figures on student mobility at the end of June 2022. This report reveals that the number of study visas provided by France fell by 17% in 2020, largely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of approved visas recovered in 2021 (+25%), reflecting a 3% increase in comparison to 2019 and pre-pandemic levels. In addition, despite the pandemic, the total number of international students in France remained stable (-1%) in 2020-2021 in comparison to the previous academic year.

According to Campus France’s data, 365,000 international students are now studying in France, representing an increase of 18% compared to five years earlier. The French Government sought to facilitate this recovery as it provided scholarships to nearly 7,700 international students and trainees in 2020-21.

With regards to their areas of origin, North Africa and the Middle Eastern are the most represented regions (29%), closely followed by Europe (24%). Over a five-year period, the number of students from Sub-Saharan Africa who came to France for their studies also significantly increased (+41%). Morocco, Algeria, China, Italy, and Senegal are the top five countries who are the most represented in France.

The data also highlights that the majority of international students attend a university, whilst 13% attend a business school and 8% an engineering school. The share of international students accounts for 13% of the total student population in France and 40% of doctoral students are from abroad. Within the OECD, France is third in hosting foreign PhD candidates, behind the United States and the United Kingdom.

International students can be found mainly in the Île-de-France region, followed by Auvergne Rhône-Alpes and Occitanie.

The student mobility landscape is changing as a result of significant international events such as Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. The ResearchConnect team will continue to monitor the trends and development of student mobility in the future.

(This report was the subject of a ResearchConnect Newsflash.)