In school year 2005-2006, 9.9% of engineering school students came from abroad, and the figures are continuously rising. France’s 240 engineering schools have resolutely extended their horizons to the international front.Out of all of France’s engineering schools, the Lyons INSA, which offers a 5-year programme to Baccalaureate-holders, is home to the largest number of foreign students (one-fourth of the student body). “50% of our first-year students are foreigners. They are warmly welcomed because France’s young people have the desire to learn alongside foreign students. Internationalisation is part of the added-value in such programmes”, states Didier Vray, Professor and Director of International Degree Programmes at the Lyons INSA.
How can I enter an engineering programme?
If you are not in an exchange programme, you must pick up an application from the school starting in March of the year prior to your desired year of entry. You will receive the final response starting in July or September. Each school has its own application procedures, however. You may be admitted at different stages: some schools are open only to students having completed two years of preparatory classes – scientific, technological or biological – and based on competitive exam. Others are open to all students immediately after the Baccalaureate, by application or after a few years of studies. Ask the Comité d’études sur les formations d’ingénieurs (CEFI), www.cefi.org, or Conseil national des ingénieurs et des scientifiques de France (CNISF), www.cnisf.org. Whichever the school, you will need a high level of scientific education to be accepted.
To award a diploma in engineering, which automatically entitles the holder to a Master’s-level status, a school must be accredited by the French Commission on Engineering Degrees (CTI). Specialised programmes are also available at the Bac+5 and post-doctoral levels. Engineering schools that belong to the Conférence des Grandes Ecoles (CGE) are able to offer “Specialised Master’s Degrees” (Ms).
Special Entry Examinations for Foreign Students
The most highly-reputed schools, like Ecole Polytechnique (referred to as “l’X”), Ecole centrale or Supélec have instituted competitive examinations specially for foreign students. For instance, Supélec’s “international cycle” competitive exam is intended for foreign students who have never studied in France, but whose education has covered the same content as the French preparatory classes. The said exams are offered in Lebanon, Syria, Morocco or Tunisia. Polytechnique, meanwhile, offers a competitive examination for students who have a strong background in mathematics and physics. Admission is determined by application and an oral exam, following two or three years of scientific studies. Proficiency in the French language is a must.
The “N+I” Engineering Institutes Network
In 2000, Edufrance established the “N+I” engineering institutes network to train engineers for international careers. Through the network, 61 engineering schools have already hosted and trained 700 students from 45 countries. This is the proverbial route paved in gold for foreign students with a Bac+4-level diploma, as they are offered a full package, including online registration, insurance, housing and a one-semester methodological and linguistic orientation programme. (www.nplusi.com)