Further Education in France

How to continue your studies after school

Further Education in France

Further education generally embraces everything except first degree courses taken at universities, grandes écoles and other institutions of higher education, although the distinction between further and higher education is often blurred.

Each year many thousands of students attend further education courses at universities alone, often of short duration and job-related, although courses may be full or part-time and include summer terms. France has many private colleges and other university-level institutions, some affiliated to foreign (usually US) universities. These include business and commercial colleges, hotel and restaurant schools, language schools and finishing schools.

Many educational institutions offer American MBA degree courses, including the European University in Paris and Toulouse. Among the most popular MBA subjects are banking, business administration, communications, economics, European languages, information systems, management, marketing, public relations, and social and political studies. Tuition fees are high and study periods strictly organised.

Although most courses are taught in English, some schools require students to be fluent in both English and French, e.g. the European Institute for Business Administration (INSEAD) at Fontainebleau, one of Europe’s most prestigious business schools. Many US universities also run summer courses in France; these are advertised in publications such as FUSAC and Paris Voice. Details of courses available to Americans can be found in The Grown-Up’s Guide to Living in France (Ten Speed Press).

Many further education courses are of the ‘open learning’ variety, where students study mostly at home. These include literally hundreds of academic, professional and vocational correspondence courses offered by private colleges. Many universities offer correspondence courses to students who want to study for a degree but are unable to attend a university due to their circumstances, e.g. health, distance, job or family commitments.

These courses are particularly targeted at mature students. Over 30,000 students take part in correspondence courses taught through universities with distance learning centres, and through the Centre National d’Enseignement à Distance (http://www.cned.fr), which prepares students for competitive exams and provides specific training.

The latest development in French education is ‘virtual universities’, where students can study via the internet (although they must take their exams in the ‘real world’!). Universities offering ‘virtual’ courses include Pierre Mendès-France (in Grenoble), Nancy II, Paris-Dauphine, Paris-Sud, Sophia-Antipolis (near Nice) and the Institut d’Administration des Entreprises de Paris.

Another type of course offered by universities and schools allows those in employment to enrol in evening courses and take advantage of specially planned timetables. The Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM) and its regional centres admit students without any formal qualifications to a wide range of courses, many leading to a degree.

General information about local further education and training is available from town halls and libraries, and the French Ministry of Education provides a free information service through departmental Centre d’Information et d’Orientation (CIO) offices.

This article is an extract from Living and working in France. Click here to get a copy now.

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