Do you dream of living the “Emily in Paris” lifestyle, where the food, fashion, and culture come together in a magnifique package?
Whether it’s lavender and l’amour or Coco Chanel and Cannes, you know that when the French do something, they do it stylishly. While everyone right now may be obsessed with Emily’s Paris, simply watching the TV show isn’t half as satisfying as living there. If you want to live the dream, why not study in France?
But why France?
Home to over 60 million people, France is the EU’s second biggest economy. Unlike in Singapore where the focus is currently on STEM, France’s economy is more balanced and doesn’t overly emphasise one industry over another.
Artists are valued alongside their engineering peers, and citizens value their national motto: égalité. This means the opportunities for studying almost whatever you want – from mime arts (there’s a famous Mime School here) to political science and culinary arts (ahem, Le Cordon Bleu) – are endless. But that doesn’t mean that France is weak in STEM – it has six universities in the world’s top 25 for STEM rankings (U-Multirank, 2017).
France is actually home to some of the world’s most renowned schools – from Sorbonne to Sciences Po – which are famous in fields like Medicine, Law, Engineering, and not surprisingly, Social Sciences. Higher education in France is split into universities and the elite grandes écoles which are set up to produce top civil servants and businesspeople, and rank correspondingly high in employability. Business schools like INSEAD and ESSEC Business School are among the best in the world.
In 2020, France was placed third in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Ranking), after the United States and Great Britain. In fact, 30 of France’s higher education and research establishments made the list, of which one, three, and five ranked in the top 20, 50, and 100 respectively. For instance, the Paris-Saclay University is in 14th position.
What’s more, young talent is valued in innovation and entrepreneurship sectors, and since France is home to leading international corporations like Airbus, LVMH, L’Oréal, and Danone, you’ll never know when opportunity may knock with internships or your first job after graduation.
Plus, imagine living the French lifestyle: waking up with croissants and coffee, grabbing lunch at a cafeteria where you may rub shoulders with Nobel laureates, or enjoying the sights of Paris on your days off. If you love to travel, you can be skiing in the French Alps, mixing with the elite in the Riviera, exploring medieval castle towns, or sampling wines in the rolling vineyards from Bordeaux to Burgundy. The rest of Europe is also within easy reach. C’est chic, non?
What’s it like studying in France?
Studying overseas automatically gives you a head start in life because you’ll be more… adult. If you’re studying in a country like France, then you’re even further ahead than your peers because you’ll have to think in a language not spoken in Singapore.
French higher education boasts a long history, dating from the establishment of Sorbonne in 1253. France’s education style is unique in that it teaches you to formulate questions, rather than simply answering them. “You must formulate the question yourself and think about the subject in its entirety. I found it stimulating and interesting, even if it was a bit tricky at first,” said former graduate Eugene Thong. Compared with a typical UK university course, students may have more classroom hours a week in France (15 to 30 hours), some in small groups.
Studying in France also allows you to take advantage of the Erasmus programme where you can study in other European universities for three to 12 months.
In addition to outstanding research output, institutions across France are focused on graduate employability. This is why end-of-studies internships are often mandatory. Upon graduation, you can work in France as long as you can find a job, and French degree holders can even have up to one year’s residency permit while seeking employment.
France offers some of the most attractive tuition rates compared to other countries; international students pay €2,770 per year (as of September 2019) for Bachelor’s programmes at public universities. In addition to being eligible for scholarships, international students can also work up to 20 hours per week and benefit from French social security, which means free healthcare including vaccines, testing, contraception, and more.
Do you need to know French to study in France? Short answer: no. France’s universities have started using English as a teaching language, so you can technically complete a course in France even with your frail French. Today, French universities offer more than 1,500 programmes, completely taught in English. However, learning French is a great way to learn about the country – you’ll find more people opening up to you and you won’t feel like a l’étranger.
Why speak French?
Having a different language changes your thinking style, and French is a good second (or third) language to learn because it’s widely spoken worldwide (it’s the third most common business language in the world). Outside France, French is widely spoken across parts of Europe and Africa, Quebec (Canada), and far flung islands from Mauritius to the Caribbean, French Guiana (South America), and French Polynesia (South Pacific).
If you work in law, it’s an important language of arbitration since Paris is a big centre. And if you’re a literary fan, French is the language of Dumas, Camus, and Hugo. They don’t call it a Romance language for nothing: a simple ham-and-cheese sandwich instantly becomes more sophisticated when it’s called a croque–monsieur.
If you’re interested to see what France has to offer…
Join the Choose France! Education and Career Fair, an annual Fair organised by the Embassy of France in Singapore to bring together French higher education institutions and students from Singapore seeking a French education.
Due to the Covid-19 situation, the 2020 Choose France! Education and Career Fair will be conducted digitally from 17 to 21 November. Hear from schools specialising in business, social sciences, engineering, and arts. A new feature this year is also the focus on internships and career perspectives, presented by Singapore-based French companies.
Register and find out more about the dozens of partner prestigious schools like Sciences Po and INSEAD, as well as specialist institutions like Ecole Ritz Escoffier (gastronomy) and ISIPCA (perfumery school). Organisations attending include global brands like Ubisoft, LVMH, and Atos.
Choose France! Education and Career Fair is part of the 2020 edition of Voilah! France Singapore Festival that will take place from 22 October to 22 November.