France Faces New Competition in its Search for African Students

Jean Chabod-Serieis, Translated by Nina Fink
Publié le
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France Faces New Competition in its Search for African Students
African students make up 43.2% of all foreign students in France. // ©  plainpicture/Blend Images/JGI/Tom Grill
This past November, the French higher education promotion agency Campus France published the latest figures on African student mobility worldwide. While France remains a favorite destination, it is no longer the only country competing for African students.

France, which welcomed over 330,000 foreign university students in 2016, prizes its African students. Campus France’s latest study, published on the occasion of its African market job fair, Afrique Destinations Emplois, confirms this observation. African students make up 43.2% of all foreign students in France, with “figures for other continents now decreasing slightly.” Half of them come from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

Competitor Countries

France remains African students’ top choice with 142,608 enrollments in 2016 and steady annual growth. However, Africans are looking elsewhere now. For example, students from sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly studying in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE and Malaysia. New to the market five years ago, those countries alone now host as many African students as France. Campus France geographic coordination director Olivier Chiche-Portiche notes, “Those countries promote their community and religious affiliations. For example, Saudi Arabia offers many Islamic studies scholarships that are popular with students from Mali, Mauritania and Senegal.”

Continental Competition

African students are twice as likely than other students to study abroad, namely because of crises and a lack of educational options. Half come from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Regarding destinations, “while Europe is still in the lead (49%), it is losing ground to intra-continental competition (21%), in particular to South Africa, Ghana, Tunisia and Morocco.”

Collegiate Collaboration

On November 28, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech in Ouagadougou, stating France’s intention to regain relevance among African students. Macron said the country aims to double its number of cooperation agreements with African countries. Chiche-Portiche reflects, “We need Africa because its students strengthen France’s influence, especially in research.” He adds that with increased business relations on the continent thanks to African alumni, it’s also a chance for “France to position itself on a continent with high demographic and economic growth.”

Read the full article (in French)


Jean Chabod-Serieis, Translated by Nina Fink | Publié le

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