Germany’s immediate neighbor France is divided into parts of the country on European territory and the French overseas territories in the Caribbean and Antarctica as defined on ebizdir. The strong migration from Africa and the Caribbean shows the close connection to these former colonies to this day. Today they are known under the name Départements d’outre-mer – Territoires d’outre-mer, or les DOM-TOM for short.
Between the Atlantic coast and the Pyrenees
The French metropolitan area has a landscape rich in contrasts that stretches from the English Channel to the Mediterranean Sea. There you can find wooded high and low mountain ranges as well as gentle arable land and meadows. The rough Atlantic coast and the palm-covered beaches on the Mediterranean Sea characterize the country in equal measure.
There are also strong demographic, political and cultural contrasts between the rural departments and the big cities.
France – a cultural nation
The cosmopolitan city and cultural metropolis of Paris is the economic and cultural center of the republic. The French define themselves as a cultural nation in a special way and strive to preserve their cultural diversity. The French film and music industry, for example, receives financial support and the national language is protected by law. Since 2010 even the “French gastronomic meal” has been part of the intangible world cultural heritage of UNESCO.
Today the tourism and service sectors make up the largest share of the French economy. The aerospace, pharmaceutical, nutrition, energy and electronics industries also play an important role.
Studying in France offers a good opportunity to get to know Germany’s neighboring country and its rich culture.
French university landscape
An important aspect of French culture is the special university tradition, some of which goes back to the 12th or 13th century. It was founded at the universities of Paris, Montpellier and Toulouse – some of the oldest institutions in Europe.
Today in France around 2.5 million students study in public and private universities as well as in non-university institutions in the country. There are top international addresses among the universities in France. They all vary greatly in terms of their courses of study, degrees and requirements.
Effects of the University Reform of the 1960s
As part of a higher education reform in the late 1960s, some large public universities in France were converted into several smaller and autonomous institutions. New, more practice-oriented branches of the universities followed. To this day it is a goal of the government to achieve greater autonomy for universities in terms of research, staff and salaries. There is now an excellence initiative in France, just like in Germany.
Depending on the individual goals and future plans of the students, the French university landscape offers a diverse range of courses. There are three types of universities in particular: the Universités, the Grandes Écoles and the Écoles Spécialisées.
Universités and Instituts Universitaires
The public and private universities are traditionally responsible for research and teaching. Compared to the other types of universities in France, they usually offer the widest range of subject-specific courses. Since the study reform of the 1960s, the state institutes Universitaires have existed alongside the universities. They are affiliated with the universities and the teaching staff cooperate with the research institutions there.
The Instituts Universitaires can be subdivided again: On the one hand there are the so-called Instituts Universitaires Professionnalisés (IUP), in German, university institute for vocational, technological training. On the other hand, there are the technical universities, called Instituts Universitaires de Technologie (IUT). Internships are a cornerstone of training and cooperation with companies plays a major role.
French “elite forges”: the Grandes Écoles
In addition to the university institutions, there are other, especially French educational institutions, the elite Grandes Écoles. They are also under public or private sponsorship and emerged in the course of the French Revolution. They developed into the training centers of a new civil service, which was no longer to be distinguished by its noble origins, but by performance.
Today the Grandes Écoles are renowned training centers for business, politics, administration, engineering, culture and the military. They are often specialized in a certain subject or in individual disciplines and usually have a practical professional orientation.
In addition, the so-called Écoles Spécialisées can be cited. These are art, music and architecture colleges that offer a wide variety of job-specific training courses. For example, training as a nurse, designer or midwife is possible.
The course lasts two to five years and leads to the Diplôme d’État.
Study system in France
The French academic year runs from October to May, and the exam period follows in June. Officially, the academic year consists of two semesters, but the duration of study is traditionally calculated in years (Années Universitaires).
The French study system was restructured as part of the Bologna Process. The current system consists of three study sections, also called LMD:
- License: three-year course, comparable to a Bachelor’s degree
- Master: two-year course; Choice between practice-oriented Master Professional or research-oriented Master Research
- Doctorate: three-year course; The degree is comparable to the German doctorate
Because of the length of study, the study system in France is also known as “3-5-8”. An exception is medical studies. This lasts between nine and eleven years, depending on whether students specialize in a certain area.
The Grandes Écoles were also restructured in the wake of Bologna. Instead of the old Diplôme courses, students now have the option of taking three-year master’s programs.
The grading system in France is based on a 20 point scale. The evaluation of the study achievements is based on the European Credit Transfer System in Crédits or Credit Points.