As reported in The Pie, France is moving away from its traditionally Francophonic recruitment grounds and attempting to appeal to Africa’s English-speaking nations, according to statistics from Campus France.
The country has, in recent years, begun increasing its provision of English-taught degrees in an attempt to make the destination more appealing to a non-French-speaking international student market. In fact, more than 1,260 courses are now taught in English at French higher education institutions. This, coupled with the affordability of tuition fees and the high quality of STEM degrees, seems to be having an impact on student recruitment efforts.
Countries which have generally sent a majority of their students to the UK and the US, such as Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia, are slowly becoming major source countries for institutions in France as well. According to Campus France, between 2011 and 2015 the number of students from Nigeria alone rose by 56%. Admittedly this is still only a total of 419 Nigerian students, compared to 17,973 for the UK in 2014, but the growth is clear, and with the efforts France is making it seems likely these numbers will continue to climb.
Burgeoning middle-classes and young populations
Many African countries have burgeoning middle classes and young populations, so the potential for recruitment will be significant in the next few years. This is especially true considering that the resources aren’t necessarily present in the countries themselves to cater for such a large market. Ethiopia, for example, has a population in which two fifths of people are aged 15 or under, while in Ghana, half of the population is under 25.
Skills gaps in many African nations mean that companies are willing to offer students funding to study overseas, which gives countries like France the opportunity to increase their student recruitment numbers. Additionally, the large number of Francophonic countries in Africa means that knowledge of French is already perceived as being beneficial across the continent. Alliance Francaise, the world’s premier French language tuition organisation, is expanding its provision of resources to key African markets, allowing prospective students to learn some of the language before starting their degree.
Majority of surveyed students content with French experience
Student recruitment efforts in Anglophonic countries are clearly on the rise, but how do African students feel about France? Campus France also conducted interviews and surveys with almost 2,000 African students who have experience studying in the nation. They found that while the prestige of the degrees offered, cultural interest and family relations were major pull factors towards France, difficulties getting a visa, administrative problems and the cost of living were all turn-offs.
All in all, however, the perception was good. Only 6% of students said they were disappointed with their experience in France, while 60% would unreservedly recommend the country for study. With continued effort, France could become one of the world’s major destinations for a whole host of new countries.