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For the first time, France disposes of specific data on the economic impact of foreign students studying in the country. The study Au-delà de l’Influence: l’Apport economique des etudiants etrangers en France was carried out by Campus France and was based on a representative survey of 4 200 students.
In the academic year 2013-2014 France was chosen by 295 000 students - 11% increase compared to 11 years before - and is the leading non-Anglophone country in the world. The biggest regional group, 43%, came from Africa, followed by 26% from Europe, 19% from Asia, 8% from America and 4% from the Middle East. More importantly, Campus France found that the income generated by students from abroad abundantly overcome their costs –generating a net gain of EUR 1.6 billion every year for the state. In fact, in spite of related costs amounting to EUR 3 billion, foreign students contributed EUR 4.65 billion during their stay through daily living expenses, university fees, flights on French airlines to and from their home countries, and money spent by their families and friends during visits to France.
Beyond being an immediate source of income, foreign students represent a long term source of prosperity and diplomatic influence. They showed increase employment, international business partnerships, tourism and extra funding for universities. Additionally, they contribute to the positive image of the country abroad, and they are excellent ambassadors to promote French products, language and culture. This confirms previous findings on international mobility from around the world that hosting foreign students is a durable investment with a strong return for many sectors of the economy, as well as in terms of cultural diplomacy.