French engineering schools recognized for the quality of international students welcoming

Last month, Campus France published the first report of its Observatory for international students welcoming. It gives an overview of practices based on a survey and a comparative analysis between students and higher education institutions. 
These large survey and analysis targeted every stage of international students welcoming: preparing for departure, integrating and supporting from the beginning to the end of the study period, and monitoring the graduates after their study time.
Reading the report, CDEFI is satisfied that French engineering schools represent some of the best institutions with welcoming and monitoring measures for international students. 
  • Among the interviewed students who got a free reception service at the train station or the airport, 30% studied at French engineering schools, against 19 % at business schools and 16% at universities.
  • 62% of interviewed students of engineering schools received an assistance for housing research from their host institution, against 46% for students of universities and 45% for students of business schools. Three engineering schools are quoted in the report as examples. EIGSI La Rochelle signed agreements with partners to offer a variety of accommodations to its international students to be guarantor and to manage house insurance. The engineering school of Mines Saint-Etienne provides a room in a residence for students – Maison des élèves , to all its international students. And EPITA recruited an employee who is in charge of providing support for housing research and allowance (CAF) to international students and managing relationships with lessors.
  • 62% of interviewed students of engineering schools received an assistance by their host school for administrative procedures related to health care, residence permit, banking process, etc., against 60% for students of business schools and 37% for students of universities. The engineering school ISEP, quoted in the report, provides a personal support for all administrative procedures.
  • 66% of interviewed students of engineering schools were invited to a special welcoming and integration event for international students organized by their host institution.
  • The engineering schools, with the French institutes of political sciences and the business schools, are among the institutions for which studies and job search support is the best: 39% of interviewed students of engineering schools received this support.
  • A membership to the alumni network had been offered to the 45% of interviewed students. It was 64% among the interviewed students of engineering schools. And most of them (88%) joined the network or want to join it.
 In general, despite the welcoming quality recognized by most of interviewed students (88%) and institutions, there is still room for improvement.
The report mentions that some efforts are still needed for administrative procedures support from the preparation for departure (admission and visa/residence permit procedures) to the arrival in France (housing research, health care, etc.). An improved and closer communication before the departure and a better cooperation with the French administration are needed.
Great attention has to be given to the social integration and the fight against isolation (one in three interviewed students felt alone during his study period in France). Higher education institutions have to offer different supports as “buddy programs” and psychological assistance for example to guarantee the integration of international students and their personal and academic success. The collaboration and the exchange of best practices between institutions, local authorities, etc. are needed as well.
To conclude, it’s recommended to strengthen support towards employment, especially in France, and alumni networks for international students monitoring and promotional activities of higher education institutions abroad.

The complete report is available here.

Methodology used by the Observatory

Many sources have been used :
  • A survey with 149 questions has been sent to international students in September 2019, via social media, higher education institutions, and Campus France offices abroad. 6028 respondents were taken into account.
  • The form and documents of 69 French higher education institutions which applied to the Bienvenue en France certification label guaranteeing the welcoming quality of international students.
  • Some interviews with students and institutions with different backgrounds.
Among the selected answers to the survey, there is an overrepresentation of students from Latin America and the Caribbean, in comparison with their share in the total of international students in France. In contrast, there is a under-representation  of students from Morocco, China and Algeria.
708 students who studied at French engineering schools, answered to the survey (12% of the respondents). 472 of them were enrolled in an engineering programme. 

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