PropositionsLes Républicains (LR) proposed bill on immigration : a disaster for France’s scientific and academic attractiveness de loi des Républicains sur l’immigration : un désastre pour l’attractivité scientifique et académique de la France.
France Universités and the Conference of Deans of French Schools of Engineering (Conférence des directeurs des écoles françaises d’ingénieurs – CDEFI) have taken note of the bill ‘‘to regain control of immigration, integration and asylum policy’’ proposed by Les Républicains (LR) senators in the Senate on June 1st 2023, as well as the constitutional bill tabled by the LR and affiliated groups in the National Assembly on June 5th 2023. Several measures put forward affect our international students: an increase in tuition fees for non-European Union students, the creation of a ‘‘return guarantee’’ and reinforced certifications of the ‘‘real and serious nature’’ of studies undertaken by foreign nationals.
France Universités and the CDEFI were not consulted during the drafting of these proposed measures. We believe they reflect an absolute lack of consideration for our international students, as well as a massive lack of confidence in our higher education and research system.
Such ineffective measures would not only fail at improving an already rigorous credentialing system, but would also exacerbate our international students’ financial precariousness. In addition, this money-based selection would further fuel the undisputable commercialization of French higher education.
The University Presidents and Deans hereby reiterate their commitment to France’s tradition of openness and hospitability to international students. In line with the objectives of the ‘‘Welcome to France’’ plan launched in 2019, which aims at welcoming half a million international students by 2027, our objective is to ensure the best possible conditions of study for our foreign students in our higher education establishments.
France today globally ranks 7th in terms of welcoming international students, far behind the UK and Germany. Ten years ago, France was still the 3rd host country.
As our industry is being re-launched, the presence of international students is an irreplaceable opportunity to match our society’s and businesses’ skill needs, and strengthen our country’s innovation and Research & Development capabilities. Effectively curbing the ambitions of those who come to France to study will undermine French competitiveness and scientific excellence. In this respect, we are delighted to note that our country continues to globally rank 3rd in the number of internationally mobile PhD students: 22,000 foreign students registered at universities in 2020-2021, representing 40% of all PhD theses in progress.
In budgetary terms, hosting international students is also a major opportunity. According to a Campus France survey, their 5-billion-euro annual economic contribution includes a net economic impact of 1.35 billion.
Jeopardizing the reception of international students would signal a disastrous blow to France’s image abroad, seriously damage the “Francophonie” cooperation ecosystem, and would consequently signal a drawback in our country’s scientific and intellectual attractiveness and capacity to influence the world. It is also a major development issue.
As opposed to the Les Republicains’ recommendations, France Universités and the CDEFI would like to see our nation regain its leading position and destination, within the European Union, for international students and researchers.