A new report has shown that an influx of foreign students into France injected €1.6bn (US$2bn) into the country’s economy last year. The report was commissioned by French education guidance counselling firm Campus France and was the first of its kind.
Named “Au-delà de l’influence: l’apport économique des étudiants étrangers en France”, the report revealed that 295,804 foreign students studying in France last year (2013-2014) incurred a cost of about €2.84bn in tuition subsidies and €55m in scholarships to the state.
The students’ expenses were superseded by the amount raised from their living costs, travel and tourism — an estimated €4.6bn.
The study showed that 41% of international students took up a job during their stay, contributing to public health and pension funds as well, which they barely utilize, writes Beckie Smith of The PIE News.
Overall there has been 11% growth within the last five years, with the report concluding that inflow of foreign students was “certainly a very profitable investment in the future for France”.
Marketing firm BVA has estimated the monthly cost of living for an international student to be around around €920, with the typical student staying over 22 months and having a total mean expenditure of €20,000. Out of this, day to day consumption of goods and services make up the majority of the costs at around €3.25bn. The breakdown of this consumption largely includes €563m in tuition fees, €364m in French airline operators and €466m generated on travel fares by relatives visiting students.
4,200 students participated in the BVA online poll, with 55% claiming that living and tuition costs in France were very demanding and 18% claiming it to be an even greater burden. 50% of the students surveyed mentioned that studying abroad was only possible through a “significant personal sacrifice” by them or their families. However, 70% admitted that enrolling in foreign higher education had been a profitable investment and a high 90% branded France as a worthwhile location for studies and travel.
The survey showed that a majority of students got a highly positive impression of the country, acting as “excellent ambassadors… who are prepared to promote France in all fields”.
Africa stands as the greatest source of student inflow, providing 43% of the total number of students, followed by 26% from Europe, 19% from Asia, 8% from the Americas, and 4% from the Middle East.
77% of students from North Africa and 73% of students hailing from the Caribbean claimed to have integrated easily into the French society. On the other hand, 47% of students from Australasia and 44% from the Middle East claimed to have a difficult time integrating.
International students done with their higher education benefit the French economy even further when they return to the country as tourists in the future. 70% of those still engaged with studies were also encouraged to purchase French products and 80% were driven to take up jobs with French companies.
Paris lives up to its reputation of world’s best city for students for the third year in a row, with higher education the most popular choice for foreign students. Out of the 75% of students enrolled in French universities, half of them are enrolled in postgraduate or doctoral courses.
The French capital reigns in education through its high university rankings, student diversity, living standards and reasonable costs. It also provides a cultural attraction to students that plays a role in its popularity.