Despite the pandemic, France continues to attract foreign students from the Maghreb and French-speaking Africa

More than five million students worldwide study abroad each year compared to 3.5 million ten years ago. France remains a great host country which comes in 6th place in the world behind the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Germany.

In 2020, the Covid pandemic had led to a sharp drop in the number of foreign students in France. But according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior, Paris has returned to its pre-crisis level in 2021 with even 3% more student visas than in 2019. France currently has some 360,000 foreign students on its territory, 21 % more than in 2016.

The health crisis has somewhat changed the distribution of nationalities present. According to the agency for the promotion of higher education abroad, the number of students from the Asia-Pacific zone fell by 35% in 2020-2021. Those of Latin America and non-French speaking Africa are also declining. Conversely, France welcomes more students from the Maghreb (+ 16% compared to 2019), French-speaking Africa (+ 17%), Lebanon (+ 50%), the United States (+ 43% ) or Turkey (+ 30%). Not to mention the very large number of European students who arrive under the Erasmus program.

About 46% of foreign students in France come from the African continent. The most numerous are the Moroccans followed by the Algerians, then (after the Chinese) arrive the Tunisians, the Senegalese, and the Ivorians. With nearly 45,000 students, Moroccans are largely at the top of this ranking, with a strong emphasis on engineering schools.

“Moroccan students are very well trained in mathematics and physics, their level is incredible”

Gaëlle Le Goff, Director of International Relations at Ecole Polytechnique

The Figaro-student

On its own, the Polytechnic School, the most prestigious of the French grandes écoles, currently welcomes 160 Moroccan students, or 11% of the students of the X, as specified. Le Figaro-student. They are also very strongly represented at Centrale-Supélec. This proves the excellence of certain Moroccan preparatory classes. On its own, the High School of Excellence (Lydex) by Benguerir, not far from Marrakech, this year placed 11 students at l’X.

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And this is not entirely new, since the Moroccan association of Polytechnique alumni already has more than 300 members, including many ministers and business leaders.

Most of them will return to their country at the end of their studies. Thus, only 21% of foreign students are still present in France five years after their arrival in the territory, says a note from the Economic Analysis Council.

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