(photo credit: REUTERS)
The French Embassy is looking to attract more Israeli students to study abroad in France, scientific attaché Jacques Baudier recently told The Jerusalem Post.
The embassy held an information day on Friday to inform and encourage potential students about the numerous study and research opportunities in France.
“There is a real lack of attractiveness for France among Israeli students, and we wondered why this is and realized it was simply a lack of information,” said Baudier.
France is one of the top countries attracting international students, with some 300,000 students from around the world attending French universities and colleges.
Unfortunately, explained Baudier, there are some 15,000 Israelis studying or conducting research abroad and only 150-200 of these choose to study in France, and a majority of them have French origins.
In response to the question of whether Israeli students avoid studying in France due to the increasing anti-Semitism in the country, Baudier responded that he did not believe this to be a consideration.
“Of course we have anti-Semitism, but this by itself does not explain the low interest in studying in France,” he said.
“France is the only country in Europe that has a law forbidding anti-Semitic speech.
Unfortunately, many countries in Europe experience anti-Semitism. In Germany and in the UK the incidents of anti-Semitism are much higher, and yet Israeli students choose to study in these countries,” he added.
Israeli students know very little about the French educational system and the opportunities the country has to offer, he explained.
“We want to correct this and provide better information on the French education system so that we can attract more Israeli students,” he said.
The French higher education system boasts “excellence and diversity” with its 80 universities, 3,000 academic colleges, including several English-language universities, and 61 Nobel Prize winners.
According to Baudier, education and research are top priorities in France, with the government spending some 6 percent of the country’s GDP on education.
As such, he explained, the government invests a lot in its universities, heavily subsidizing studies so that both French and international students alike pay extremely low tuition fees. The average yearly cost for an undergraduate degree stands at €184, while the yearly tuition for a master’s degree stands at €256 and for a PhD at €391 per year.
The government will also provide financial support for rent (approximately €200) as well as additional financial support for food and social security and medical benefits for domestic and international students alike, he explained.
As an added incentive for Israeli students to choose France as their study destination, the embassy offers fellowships for students pursuing higher degrees or research in the fields of exact sciences, humanities and social sciences, and business. The fellowship stipend varies from €760 to €2,466 per month.
“There is a big interest for France to attract outstanding Israeli students because they can bring their enthusiasm for studying, their knowledge, and their skills,” said Baudier.