A key player on the world stage and a country at the political heart of Europe, France paid a high price in both economic and human terms during the two world wars.
The years which followed saw protracted conflicts culminating in independence for Algeria and most other French colonies in Africa as well as decolonization in south-east Asia.
France was one of the founding fathers of European integration as the continent sought to rebuild after the devastation of World War II.
In the 1990s Franco-German cooperation was central to European economic integration. The bond between the two countries was again to the fore in the new millennium when their leaders voiced strong opposition as the US-led campaign in Iraq began.
The historic southern French city of Avignon is a UN World Heritage Site.
At a glance
- Politics: Francois Hollande is France’s first Socialist president since Francois Mitterrand in 1981-95
- Economy: France has the eurozone’s second-largest economy and is a leading industrial power, but has struggled to emerge from recession since 2008
- International: France is a key European and world player. It has a strong military. France is influential in Africa, especially in former colonies
But France sent shockwaves through European Union capitals when its voters rejected the proposed EU constitution in a referendum in May 2005.
France’s colonial past is a major contributing factor in the presence of a diverse multicultural population. It is home to more than five million people of Arab and African descent.
It has a number of territories overseas which, together with mainland France and Corsica, go to make up the 26 regions which the country comprises. It is further divided into 100 departments, five of which – French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion and Mayotte – are geographically distant from Europe.
Government in France is known for its high degree of centralisation but in March 2003 parliament approved amendments to the constitution allowing for the devolution of quite wide-ranging powers to the regions and departments.
In the light of low election turnout, the move was widely seen as a bid to re-engage in the political process French people disillusioned by the ubiquitous influence of what is often perceived as the Paris elite.
France has produced some of the continent’s most influential writers and thinkers from Descartes and Pascal in the 17th century, Voltaire in the 18th, Baudelaire and Flaubert in the 19th to Sartre and Camus in the 20th.
In the last two centuries it has given the art world the works of Renoir, Monet, Cezanne, Gauguin, Matisse and Braque, to name but a few.
It is also famous for its strong culinary tradition. France produces more than 250 cheeses and some of the world’s best-loved wines.
If all of the things that we’ve already told you about France were not enough, what if we told you that the country has one of the most prestigious education systems in the world, as well? Whether you are an individual seeking undergraduate studies, postgraduate schooling or something else, an amazing education can easily be found in the country. No matter what region that you go to there are numerous universities and educational institutions offering world-class education for people far and wide. There is a reason that so many people choose to come to France to receive their education and when it is the best education that you require, it is well worth your time to look at the colleges and universities that are available throughout the country.
As a student at one of these institutions you can rest assured that you will receive an amazing education, while also enjoying the many other things that are to be loved in the country. The universities in France offer students the chance to attend their institutions on a full and part time basis, with a number of class schedules and courses available. These courses will all vary by the college, as will the times that you can attend. However, it is quite easy to find something that accommodates your schedule and allows you to go to university in your own time.
Some of the universities in France may also offer their students the chance to complete some of their courses at home via their own computer. This is again something that you should check with the university concerned, as not all of them will offer this option. Additionally, it may not be offered for all courses or for all subjects.
It is French tradition to welcome foreign students from all across the world. Since the Middle Ages, and the birth of La Sorbonne, the first French University which occurred more than 800 years ago, students from all across Europe have come to France to study, especially in the areas of theology, medicine and law.
But people are not just coming from Europe any longer. Many students from the USA attend college in France. There are also a growing percentage of college enrollees from other countries as well. People come to France to get their education because they know what kind of system awaits them. France is keen on providing top of the line education in all subjects and to all students. This is a true statement no matter what university you plan to attend.
No matter what country you are coming from you can expect to be welcomed with open arms. There is so much diversity in France. It is one of the things that keeps the country such an amazing place to be for all. It is always nice to know that you will fit right in with the crowd when you arrive. No one will question the fact that it can be hard to be the new kid on the block. If you are coming from another nation and culture and are unaware of the country and know no one, it can be far scarier. Knowing that no matter where you choose to go in France you can rest assured that you are going to be welcomed and feel right at home, really is a tremendous boon.
The French government introduced a vigorous support policy in 1998 welcoming foreign students into French educational institutions. The policy was introduced and followed through by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with the Ministry of Education and is made up of four different components. These four components are:
- To modify the policy of visas awarded, to contribute to its simplification and to give priority to all students. Two exceptional measures have been passed as well: the refusals of motivation and the right to appeal.
- The creation of the Campus France Agency, especially present in education fairs, to promote French higher education in foreign countries. It is advised that all students interested in studying in France should visit its web site: www.campusfrance.org/en.
- The current creation of a European University to make diplomas available in the country more reliable.
- A new structured program of French Government grants that makes them more attractive to foreign students and also to make these grants match with the internationalisation of the French institutions of higher education.
Applying for a position at a higher education institution in France is easy, with foreign students having the ability to apply to as many as 20 different universities with one single application on the web. Since you are unable to apply to colleges in person when you are in another country, this is something that can make it much easier on all students wishing to enroll in a French university. You will also find it fairly simple to browse the colleges that are available in France with the help of the web. All colleges in France have a website that you can visit. When you visit the website of the university that you are interested in, you can learn so much about them and determine if it is a good fit for your specific needs.
France has more than 3,500 institutions of higher education, including the following:
- 77 publicly-funded universities, offering degrees in all disciplines and serving as the primary academic research centres
- A parallel system of Grandes Ecoles offering scientific, business, art and other specific programs, which offer 5-year diplomas which are equivalent to a Masters degree
- Schools of architecture
- More than 3,000 specialized schools offering degrees in a wide variety of subjects, including hotel management, culinary arts, tourism and social work.
Students wishing to attend a French educational institution for higher learning will find there are a good number of financial opportunities awaiting them to make attending university easier. Both loans and grants are available to students who qualify for the money. Additionally, the French government offsets some of the costs of attending university in the country, making it a wise financial choice to attend a college in France. Tuition costs in the country are far lower than in other areas. Combined with the remarkable institutions and learning capabilities in the country, studying in France has a plethora of advantages and benefits that are sure to be appreciated.
The average cost of attending a French institution is 186 EUR for first year degrees and 255 EUR for a master’s degree. These figures are accurate for the 2012-2013 school year. Again the actual amount of tuition cost will vary according to the numerous factors that we’ve already discussed. These costs are far less than what is found at many other universities and colleges around the world, all for one of the best educations in the world.
Other benefits that make it plausible to attend college in France include the costs of living in the country. It is far more affordable to survive in France than a country such as the United States. Costs are exponentially less for almost everything, whether it is housing, food or even entertainment.