The first step towards French universities
French high schools are renown abroad and gaining momentum. Today, they make a valued first step towards French higher education system.
A global network of institutions
With about 500 education institutions in 136 countries, France has the biggest education network worldwide. Last year, Laurent Fabius, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, said it was "a jewel for France". Indeed, the network boasts about 340,000 students, of which 60% are foreign ntionals. This contributes to the cultural and linguistic reputation of France in the world.
In such a context, French high schools have a favourable status. They are distributed in about 100 countries and welcome over 50,000 students every year. Their location is mainly due to the History of France and its influence. Lebanon is ranked first country with most French high schools with about 30 institutions. The country is followed by Spain (17), Morocco (16), the US (13), Egypt (9) and Germany (7).
Institutions greatly vary in status. However, all are approved by the Ministry of Education, which certifies their programs and education objectives. Their everyday challenge is to find the appropriate balance between a French and a local education. In 2015, over 60% of students in a French high school had the nationality of the host country or of neither countries.
Record results at the baccalauréat
French high schools have a great reputation and are more than ever in a momentum. In 2014 and 2015, the number of students registered in Terminale (US 12th Grade or UK Year 13) rose by 4%. This is a long-standing trend due in part to excellent results in the baccalauréat (US SAT or UK A-levels): out of 15,000 students who took the baccalauréat exam in 2015, over 96% passed. 75% passed with honours and 40% with high or highest honours. Success rate in mainland France was 88% the same year.
Scholarships to study in France
Every year, more than half of the baccalauréat holders leaving a French high school abroad decide to study in France. A scholarship program has been helping students for 20 years to achieve their goal: the Excellence-Major scheme. It was created in 1992 to help the best foreign baccalauréat holders study at the highest level in France, in a university or "grande école".
This scholarship is highly demanded and spans over five years. It is currently granted to 800 students of 80 nationalities. The scholarship is used during from first year up to the Master's 2 degree and allows to benefit from simplified administration processes, from receiving a visa to find a housing. Eligible individuals may also benefit from partnerships with designated "grandes écoles" such as ESSEC or Sciences Po Paris.
A highly demanded profile
The network of French high schools abroad currently registers 600,000 alumni. Due to their academic excellence, multilingual education and open-mindedness on the world, they are highly demanded on the French labour market.
Photos © AEFE