France: International Students’ Fees Increase Overturned

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Posted on February 2, 2024


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As the president issues a new call for international talent, controversial legislation that was about to increase tuition costs for foreign students in France has been annulled.

It was revealed in December 2023 that foreign students would need to pay a deposit in addition to higher tuition fees for non-EU students when applying for a student visa as part of France’s proposed immigration reform.

Additionally, a provision in the statute required students to show proof each year that they are participating in a “real and serious” study program. Stakeholders were worried about how the reforms might affect France’s ability to compete internationally at the time.

The country’s immigration law will no longer include the provisions pertaining to foreign students, nevertheless, after the Constitutional Council ruled that the modifications were “unconstitutional.”

Nonetheless, the immigration law would preserve and streamline the “talent passport” program, which grants multi-year residency permits to international entrepreneurs and doctorate students as well as recent foreign graduates with master’s degrees earned in France.

In response to the news, Minister of Higher Education and Research Sylvie Retailleau emphasized in a speech on January 26 that “international students are an opportunity for France.”

An estimated 402,833 international students choose French higher education institutions in the academic year 2022–2023, with Morocco, Algeria, China, Italy, and Senegal ranking as the top five sending countries. Each year, international students provide €5 billion to the French economy.

While some rejoiced over the lifting of the restrictions, other analysts concentrated on broader sentiments against immigration in France. The student representative organization La FAGE expressed its growing worry over systematic racism encountered by international students in France in a post on X, saying, “This censored text is not a victory.”

The group has previously fought against the immigration law’s effects on foreign students, claiming that further financial burdens would be placed on a population they already felt was vulnerable to higher rates of poverty. Additionally, it contended that mandatory audits of their programs labeled foreign students as members of networks of unauthorized immigration.

The final version of the immigration reforms endorsed by the Constitutional Council keeps most of the important elements that the administration originally asked, with a significant portion devoted to streamlining the deportation process of “delinquent foreigners.”

Jordan Bardella, the president of the National Front, has called for a “referendum on immigration,” indicating that some far-right MPs are unhappy that the Council has eliminated several of its proposed changes, including the adoption of migration quotas.

Ahead of France’s president Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to India to commemorate the 75th Republic Day of India, Macron reaffirmed his pledge to accept 30,000 Indian students by 2030.

Macron stated in a LinkedIn post, “It’s a very ambitious target, but I am determined to make it happen.”

During their meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, the two leaders used the occasion to advocate for a new international class format in France that will allow non-French speaking Indian students to be integrated into the French higher education system by means of French language classes beginning in September 2024.

Indian students will learn academic subjects and the French language through these new courses. Upon completion, they will be eligible to enroll in bachelor’s programs that are taught in French. In late January, Modi extended an invitation to internationally recognized French universities and academic establishments to establish branches in India in line with the New Education Policy.