The quality of France’s workforce, especially its engineers, is one of the reasons behind France’s attractiveness to foreign companies investing and expanding in the country. While the French-style educational model is appealing, it is also compelling outside its borders and is now being exported en masse, chiefly to emerging countries.
Since 2005, three French engineering schools have set up campuses in China: Ecole Centrale in Beijing in 2005, the Sino-European Institute of Aviation Engineering in 2007 and in December 2009, the Franco-Chinese Institute of Nuclear Energy (IFCEN) in Beijing, which opened its doors just recently.
In September 2009, the Indian Institute of Technology Rajasthan opened in India, a consortium that includes, among others, Polytechnique, Centrale, Mines, Supelec, INSA Lyon and the University of Orsay. The consortium is training 120 future engineers à la française specializing in IT, electricity and mechanics.
The French engineering school model is proving such a good export because it is primarily based on a strong international academic tradition. Centrale Paris requires its students to learn at least two foreign languages and work abroad for at least six weeks, while ISEN hires foreign teachers and has recruited an agent in India to attract students to go study in Paris.
In 2008, France hosted nearly 261,000 foreign students.
The French “National Loan” will provide €11 billion in funding for higher education and research.
Five French business schools are featured in the top 10 Masters in management programs in Europe (Financial Times, 2009): HEC Paris, INSEAD, ESCP Europe, EM Lyon and ESSEC.