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France: The next 10 years in higher education

The French government is embarking on a mission to build a “learning society” in France by 2025, as proposed by the French Higher Education Strategy Committee (StraNES) in a report released on 8 September 2015. The committee, led by Sophie Béjean, President of Campus France, and Bertrand Monthubert, President of the University of Toulouse 3 - Paul Sabatier, assessed the state of the higher education sector at the request of President Hollande and outlined 40 realistic proposals for strengthening the position of French higher education in the world. Among them, the committee suggests to achieve the following objectives by 2025: 
  • increase the share of age group that earns a higher education degree from the current 42% to 60% (with 50% obtaining a bachelor’s degree and 25% earning a master’s degree); 
  • halve the gap in higher education attainment for young people from working-class backgrounds, as currently only 28% of them hold degrees compared with 65% of those from managerial class families; and
  • increase the number of PhD graduates by granting 20 000 doctoral degrees per year, reserving 12 000 of those for French students.  
With respect to internationalisation, the report proposes to: 
  • double the rate of inbound student mobility by simplifying the visa process, providing support with housing search and fostering a welcoming culture for international students;
  • internationalise education programmes by developing MOOCs, adopting a semester schedule and facilitating the transfer of European university credits; and
  • double the rate of outgoing student mobility by creating a travel grant for low-income students.

In addition, the report proposes that the EU adopt a collective target of raising higher education expenditure to 2% of GDP. 

Full report (French)  Synthesis and main proposals (English)