"Are foreign students really welcome in France? "

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At the University of Rouen-Normandy, in October 2017.
At the University of Rouen-Normandie, October 2017. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

Tribune. On Monday 19 November, the French government announced a new strategy to attract more foreign students to France. Under a new label Welcome to France awarded to exemplary institutions, the prime minister, Edouard Philippe, wants to go from 320 000 international students today to 500 000 in the universities of France by 2027. In what way? Among other things, by increasing tuition fees for non-European students!

Thus, from the start of the 2018 school year, these young people would have to pay 2,770 euros instead of 170 euros to enroll in a bachelor's degree, and 3,770 euros for a master's or PhD program – compared to 243 euros and 380 euros currently. The Prime Minister finds "Absurd" and 'Unfair' than an extra-European student "Fortunate pays the same tuition fees as a poor French student whose parents live, work and pay taxes in France for years".

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This statement confirms, once again, the ambiguity of French policy towards foreign students. A policy that oscillates between a desire for attractiveness, drawn from a liberal vision marked by the era of the commodification of higher education systems, and an obsession with control affirmed by a restrictive, selective migration policy, thriving in a bureaucratic logic safe.

An administrative marathon

In 2017, more than 78,000 first residence permits were issued in France for "Reasons related to education". Documents obtained at the end of a real obstacle course. Since 2010, any foreign candidate must pass through the digital platform of Campus France, an institution under the joint supervision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Higher Education, with a network of more than 200 spaces. and antennas in the world.

The application, called Pre-Admission Application (DAP), is subject to a fee. To submit an application, students must pay the application fee in cash from an accredited bank. The amount varies from one country to another. For example, for Senegalese candidates, it is 50,000 CFA francs (about 75 euros), for Turkish students, it is 430 Turkish pounds (about 98 euros), while for Moroccan students, it is 1,900 francs dirhams (about 172 euros). It is clearly stated that these administrative fees are not a guarantee of pre-registration and that they are not, in any case, refundable even in case of cancellation, non-admission or refusal of a visa.

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Thus, as a first step, foreign students must create an account on the Campus France website and complete an educational file, by entering personal information and proof of diplomas. Candidates must also provide a certificate attesting to their level in French, by performing a test of knowledge of French (TCF), paying, or by presenting an equivalent diploma.

The next step is to send the educational file to the French institutions in which the candidate wishes to register. In the event of a favorable opinion from one of them, Campus France services call the student for an interview in order to verify the authenticity of the documents provided, his level of French, his motivations and the coherence of his project. . At the end of this interview, the agent of Campus France gives his opinion. If it is favorable, the candidate is invited to make an appointment with the French Consulate to submit his application for a student residence long-stay visa.

Costly steps …

Any student who does not have a scholarship must submit a bank certificate justifying "The deposit of a transfer order, permanent and irrevocable, a minimum amount of the equivalent of 615 euros per month for the duration of the stay" (12-month basis for a school or university year). This sum is significant, since for a Moroccan student for example, this represents twice the monthly minimum wage in his country. In fact, to be able to apply for a long-stay visa for study in France, a Moroccan student must have saved the equivalent of two years of minimum wage!

Let us keep the example of Moroccan students, since they top the ranking of foreign students in France (38 000 in 2017). Since 2015, all French consulates in Morocco have outsourced the receipt of visa application and issuance files to a private provider, TLS-Contact. Thus, besides the inevitable costs of visas – not refundable in case of refusal -, the applicants also pay a service fee to TLS-Contact, equivalent to 269 dirhams (around 25 euros).

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Upon arrival in France, foreign students must present themselves, within three months from the date of entry, to the services of the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII) of their department. installation, and to complete the registration formalities. Once all the administrative steps have been completed and paying a tax of 58 euros in the form of tax stamps, the passports of these foreign students are given a sticker attesting the completion of the formalities.

… and endless

From their second year in France, foreign students must apply for a temporary residence permit bearing the student's name. According to Article L.313-7 of Ceseda (Code of entry and stay of foreigners and asylum) French, this card is granted to "A foreigner who establishes that he is studying or studying in France and justifies that he has sufficient means of subsistence".

The level of livelihoods deemed sufficient is equivalent to the initial request for a long-stay visa, ie at least € 615 per month. That said, the application file for this first temporary residence permit is composed, among other things, of a proof of financial resources at the defined amount, a proof of address, a certificate of registration in an establishment of higher education and a certificate of affiliation to student social security. The delivery of this first residence permit requires the payment of a tax of 79 euros in the form of tax stamps.

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At the end of their studies, some foreign students find employment opportunities in the Hexagon and decide to settle there. This decision exposes them head on to a new "Paper career"as boring and complex as the previous ones. In fact, in order for a foreign student to legally reside in France at the end of his / her higher education and to pursue a salaried professional activity, he / she is subjected to an administrative procedure known as " Status change "at the end of which he passes from student status to that of temporary worker or employee.

That being said, I let you calculate the sum of all these fees (Campus France file, TLS-Contact, visa fees and OFTI tax stamps) that extra-European students pay to continue their higher education in France. La France. Costly, requiring several months of procedures, the procedure for obtaining a visa for studies is indicative of the selective immigration policy of France. A selection that is both an inegalitarian social dimension and apparent economic logic, prescribed by the economic needs of the French labor market.

Counterproductive measures

Many foreign students depend during their expatriation in France of the financial resources that their families provide them. Many of them are from modest backgrounds. To meet the different material requirements of their children's stay in France, there are many families who sometimes go into debt. With this new tuition fee policy, which adds to the burden on them, it will no longer be a question of " Welcome in France ", but rather "Go elsewhere, do not come to France" !

If foreign students are often considered candidates "Desirable" to immigration to France, perfectly matching the canons of what you call "Chosen immigration"Nevertheless, they are treated like any other foreigner who is constantly suspected of later becoming an irregular legal person.

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In 2014, Campus France conducted a survey of a representative sample in order to understander the economic contribution of foreign students to the life of the country. According to the results of this survey, online, "While the cost of these foreign students for the state budget can be estimated at about 3 billion euros, the contribution of students to the French economy amounts to 4.65 billion euros, of which 3 250 million euros in daily consumption of goods and services, 563 million euros in tuition fees and tuition fees, 364 million euros in air transport expenses from French operators, and 466 million euros spending by relatives visiting students ".

Perhaps politicians should take a tour during their holidays in cities like Brest, Nancy or Mulhouse, where foreign students energize local life. Their inhabitants will confirm it!

Hicham Jamid is a doctoral student in sociology at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts (CNAM) in Paris.

This article was first published on the site of The Conversation.

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The "World Africa" ​​Debates: in Dakar, two days dedicated to West African youth

In Dakar, on November 22 and 23, the fourth edition of the Debates of the World Africa will be under the sign of "Education and training of young people in West Africa". Check out the program and register by clicking here.

The debates and round tables that will punctuate the first day, at the Grand National Theater in Dakar, will focus on the learning required for the citizen of the XXIe century and the skills it needs to develop to cross the century. It is also difficult to avoid scientific training, without which companies will not find the necessary workforce for the development of countries and which must be sufficiently attractive and open to innovation to attract new generations.

On the second day of the event, a particular focus will be given to energy sector trades, in order to understand what are the formations of the future and the possible outlets. Students from Senegalese universities will be welcome in workshops allowing them to understand how to create their own jobs on a continent where wage labor remains the weakest link. This subject will be discussed within master class specially organized for them in the universities.

Hicham Jamid

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