British undergraduates following the University of London French studies degree course at the British Institute in Paris will no longer face the burden of having to pay their full study costs but will be entitled to funding, for fees, in the same way as UK-based students.
The institute - a division of London University and the only part of the British university system located in continental Europe - introduced the three-year BA course in 1994, but, as it is based on "foreign soil", students had to pay the full fees themselves, as well as meeting all their living expenses.
After a campaign supported by the then British ambassador, the Department for Education and Employment allowed the institute's students to claim loans and means-tested local education authority grants from 1996, but they still had to pay all their study costs, currently up to Pounds 2,400 annually.
Some students have had to leave the institute for financial reasons, but despite the expense, application rates for the course have risen every year.
Annual intakes have also increased, from six students in 1994 to 24 in 1998.
Now the Higher Education Funding Council for England has announced that from September the students will be funded like those in Britain. Though they will have to pay the new Pounds 1,000 fees introduced by the government, they will still be "saving" up to Pounds 1,500.
Elaine Williamson, who is head of the institute's French department, said:
"Up to now selection has been by parental means. We are delighted our students will be working in exactly the same conditions as those in the UK. We don't just have rich students - they realise how wonderful it is to spend three years in France studying French, and they make many financial sacrifices."