Quest for quality

October 21, 2005

France's universities must attract better-qualified foreign students if they are to meet research and development objectives, according to the state planning commission, the Commissariat du Plan.

The body criticises French institutions for recruiting too many foreign students with low qualifications compared with US and UK universities.

France is fifth among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries in attracting students from abroad, after the US, UK, Germany and Australia. The number of international students in France has risen from 149,500 in 1998-89 to 245,300 in 2003-04, up from 7 per cent to 11 per cent of students at universities and grandes écoles . About half are African and a quarter European.

Foreigners studying at a university - accounting for four fifths of international students - are distinguished by quantity rather than quality, the Commissariat says.

In a report analysing the international mobility of students and researchers, the Commissariat says France must recruit up to 14,700 researchers a year during 2001-13 to account for an ageing population and to meet research targets. But the aversion among the French to studying science and technology would reduce the pool of potential researchers.


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