Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
14th Sep 2022

More than 400,000 international students are now studying in France

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • The number of international students in France continues to rise – over 400,000 students chose France as a study destination in 2021/22
  • This year-over-year growth trend (+8%) follows a 25% rise in the number of study visas awarded to international students in 2020/21
  • Europe is becoming a more important sending region for French institutions

France enrolled more than 400,000 international students in 2021/22 according to Campus France. This represents an 8% increase over the previous year.

This is the second year of growth for France. Following a 17% pandemic-related reduction in the number of study visas French immigration officials issued to foreign students in 2020, 25% more visas were issued to international students coming to study in France in 2021.

French educators are expecting even more foreign students to arrive in 2022/23 given an 18% rise in applications compared with last year.

Top sending markets

Two African countries, Morocco and Algeria, are the top senders for France (46,371 and 31,032 students, respectively), as shown in the table below. However, other countries in the top 10 are growing faster as sending markets: Italy (+16%), Spain, (+25%), and Lebanon (+30%).

Within France’s top 20, meanwhile, Germany sent many more students than the previous year (+17% for a total of 8,186), the US (+50%, for a total of 6,179), and Benin (+19%, for a total of 5,072). Germany and the US had been in decline before 2022/22 so this represents a nice reversal of that trend.

Only China and Vietnam are in decline, sending -2% and -4% fewer students, respectively, than the previous year. China remains important for French educators, as Chinese students are the third largest group of international students in France (27,479 students).

Top 10 sending markets for France, 2021. Source: Campus France

Regional trends

North and South American students are increasingly interested in going to France. Regionally, North America was up 43%, Latin America and the Caribbean rose 14%, and South America grew by 4%.

More European students also chose France (+13%), an uptick that may be partially driven by a new scholarship programme launched this year, “France Excellence Europa,” devoted to encouraging European students to choose France for master’s-level studies.

The Middle Eastern and North African region sent +10% more students compared with 2020/21. This regional market has grown for France by 32% over the past few years.

France, like all major destinations, is seeing fewer Chinese students, but students from India (+9.5%), Japan (+12%) and Sri Lanka (+17%) are clearly more interested in France than in the past.

Most popular

Business schools saw the largest increases in international students (+18%), followed by high schools (7%), universities (6%), art and architecture schools (5%), and engineering schools (3%). International enrolments in French business schools have been rising steadily over the past five years.

6% in universities, 5% in art and architecture schools, 3% in engineering schools, and 7% in other institutions.

The future looks bright

Campus France reports that, as of August 2022 more than 140,000 students from 70 countries worldwide had applied via “Etudes en France” (a national admissions platform for foreign students) for "a record number on the rise by 18% compared with the pre-COVID situation.”

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