You can find up to 17 public universities in the Paris region, as well as several of the renowned Grandes Écoles (specialized higher-education centers outside the public university structure). Paris holds the largest concentration of university students in Europe, currently housing over 350,000 students per year in its vast public tertiary system.
Most international students are from Africa; European and Asian students follow in that order, while students from the American continent are still the least found. However, Paris has taken great lengths in comfortably accommodating its expanding international students and several specially-created services have been inaugurated to make one’s landing in the City of Lights less overwhelming.
The Cité Internationale Universitaire and the CROUS have become year-round reception centers for all of the capital’s university students, especially those from other countries. They strive to help international students with that they need to know – and do – to secure a peaceful and lawful stay in Paris whilst completing their studies: applying for a residence card (“carte de séjour”), looking for housing and accommodations, opening a bank account, requesting work authorizations and social security, among many others.
Before you consider Paris as your studying destination, please keep in mind that the entire process starts from home. You may land in Paris and start to breathe its bohemian and intellectual airs once you’ve already completed several steps:
- Not all foreign qualifications are recognized by the French education system. Please make sure that your degree or highest level of education is recognized before even considering studying in Paris.
- Students have specific visa requirements that need to be met before entering the country. For instance, one must give proof that they have enough money to support themselves during studies (otherwise, a temporary work permit allowing a maximum of 17 and a half work hours a week must be issued).
- Scholarships are vastly available for both EU and non-EU students. Try to apply to as many as possible in order to make your stay in Paris less expensive.
- Work opportunities for students are available, but you’ll probably need a temporary work permit in order to be employed. This could take time!
- Pay close attention to all of the university’s admission policies: not all of them are the same and your qualifications could be insufficient for some courses.
- French language requirements: although rare, some university courses can be taken in English. However, most universities will require some knowledge of French and evidence to back it up.
- Paris offers several lodging options for students in order to keep them from paying market prices. Additionally, some accommodations might have conditions you need to meet before applying. For more information on these options, visit www.campusfrance.org and www.egide.asso.fr.
These are just some guidelines to get you started. For more information about studying in Paris, feel free to ask around and email your university of choice regarding any questions you might have – a city so proud of its student body is sure to be helpful when needed!
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