DD thinking of studying French at a French uni

(58 Posts)
NigellasGuest Sun 09-Dec-12 11:29:35

DD is in her final GCSE year and thinking ahead to A'levels - so this isn't an urgent query, just preliminary investigation!

She likes French and is good at it - and has said that if she ends up doing well enough in it, she might like to study it at Uni. And if she studies it at Uni, she would like that to be a French uni.

Is this a common thing to do? It sounds like a nice idea to me, but how would one go about finding out about suitable universities in France - and is their system totally different to ours here in the UK?

If anyone has any first hand experience or is considering something similar I would love to read your comments!

Primrose123 Mon 10-Dec-12 12:47:59

I studied languages and spent a year abroad in Germany. I then spent 3 weeks at summer school in Boulogne, on a course run by the university of Lille. I stayed with a French family and it was fantastic! Your DD could do this in the summer holidays, but its not cheap!

Beamur Mon 10-Dec-12 13:04:13

I don't know the details, but a colleague of mine has a daughter studying in Paris, her whole degree will be done there. Financially I don't know how it works, but she is doing some part time work speaking English with a French family to help them with their language skills too. She certainly seems to be enjoying it and her french is fluent.

Greythorne Mon 10-Dec-12 17:09:15

AuldAlliance Mon 10-Dec-12 12:21:44
Erasmus is a European exchange system, whereby partner universities accept students from each other on a reciprocal basis, either for a semester or one year. The students remain enrolled at their university (i.e. students from an British, university will pay that year's fees at their home university, not the 200 euros registration in the French partner university), but should have access to most courses in the partner university. The marks they get are converted into marks at their home university. They don't get a qualification per se from the partner university.

In my Day, we did indeed get a licence fom the French university on completion of of degree in the UK, it was a double degree. Might have changed now, through, that was (cough) some years ago.

AuldAlliance Mon 10-Dec-12 19:41:33

None of the 5 exchanges I am or have been involved in allow UK students to obtain a licence or other qualification after a year/semester here.
One incoming student 3 or 4 years ago tried very hard to convince the university here to let him enroll both as Erasmus exchange student and as regular licence student, paying the enrollment fees here over and above his UK enrollment, but in vain.

fraktion Mon 10-Dec-12 19:51:49

The only double one I know of is Kings/Sorbonne for law.

I wouldn't really want to have my only university experience in a French university. It would be pretty miserable. Although I would pick studying over an assistantship in a school, not because the assistantship itself is bad - I am one at the moment - but because the lack if support from the schools and the home university is usually terrible. You become no-one's problem really and the Academie I'm in has had 5 resignations this year.

If she wants to go abroad I'd be thinking Netherlands with an Erasmus year in France!

fraktion Mon 10-Dec-12 19:56:30

DH tells me Science Po do one with LSE and Leicester and Essex also do a law/French law so there are some out there.

winnybella Mon 10-Dec-12 20:05:30

AuldAlliance What do you mean by saying that there is no selection at the entrance? Is it on first come, first served basis? They can't possibly accept everyone who wants to do particular degree? confused

creamteas Mon 10-Dec-12 20:56:33

I think it used to be the case that everyone with a Bac was entitled to a place, hence the massive classes......

AuldAlliance Mon 10-Dec-12 22:49:44

Everyone who has passed the bac, be it général, technique or pro, is entitled to attend university, irrespective of whether their bac subjects correspond to their field of study. I have taught a few people with a bac pro in hairdressing and in building who were in first year of Business Studies some who were in Law. It was grim for them and me.

The failure rate is huge, but as the university is now the only section of higher education that is not allowed to operate selection at entry, bacheliers pro who have been turned down at IUT or haven't got an apprenticeship in their field end up at the university for want of other options.

There is selection for medicine as there is the numerus clausus, and Paris Dauphine notoriously twists the law and selects, but there is no limit elsewhere to student numbers; there were so many people enrolled in 1st year LEA at my university last year that there were 90 students per "tutorial" group and we didn't have rooms big enough to teach them in.

You cannot refuse entry to someone who has a bac, you can merely try and point out gently that they might be better off choosing another field of study or type of HE institute. Since it was decreed that 80% of bacheliers should pass the bac, and they now do so in most académies although the level has been shown to have dropped considerably, the result is indeed huge student numbers, many of whom have no hope of passing.

There is selection at M2 level, but not usually at M1.
No political party is prepared to take on the hot potato of introducing selection as it would lose them votes and send youth unemployment figures through the roof.

AuldAlliance Mon 10-Dec-12 22:53:37

Article here about bacheliers pro, some of whom have never written an essay or read anything other than a magazine, who enroll in 1st year history or French.

winnybella Mon 10-Dec-12 23:11:22

Very interesting, thank you smile I was just researching lycees for DS yesterday (still 4 years away!) and I can't believe I had no idea about the no selection rule for universities. Perhaps because where I come from there are some degree courses with 20 or more candidates for one place and so I can't imagine how would a university manage to accommodate such numbers of students were they to admit them all confused So anyone who wants to study at, say, Sci Po gets in? Really?

Greythorne Mon 10-Dec-12 23:22:26

Sciences Po is not a fac, winnybella so it is highly selective!

winnybella Mon 10-Dec-12 23:22:44

'lire, ce n’est pas mon truc, sauf Closer. Mais on ne fait pas toujours ce qu’on aime dans la vie' Oh, Lord, poor girl, doing lettres modernes. But then there were no places left for gestation administrative...so there are limits, yes? And with the lack of funds, how terrible for the staff.

winnybella Mon 10-Dec-12 23:25:12

Okaaaay...Jesus, how come I don't know any of this? What's the difference between fac and Sci Po, pretty please? Oh, do they do just post grad?

Hope your DD is doing ok with the poem.

boomting Tue 11-Dec-12 00:36:49

If she is interested in politics, then this might be an option www.cardiff.ac.uk/europ/degreeprogrammes/undergraduate/bordeaux/index.html

AuldAlliance Tue 11-Dec-12 08:11:42

Sciences Po is a grande école, not a university.

Grandes écoles select at entrance.

You usually do prépa before entering a grande école: there is selection at entrance to prépa and then again for the grande école.

University in France is, TBH the sub-standard section of HE (except for Law and some sciences) ; if you look at most countries in the world, their leaders and the governing classes will have studied at university (albeit elite ones). In France, Sarkozy was probably one of the first presidents in a long time to have gone to university rather than a grande école (and he isn't exactly renowned for his vast culture and cutting intellect).

One reason the universities are in such parlous condition is that the elite in France doesn't attend university, doesn't send its kids there, and doesn't give much of a stuff about it until the Shanghai ranking yet again places French universities far below those of many other countries and then it gets all agitated for a while, wrings it hands, but does nothing to address any of the real problems.

(Sorry, once you get me started on this I can rant for hours!)

AuldAlliance Tue 11-Dec-12 08:12:49

winnybella, IIRC the girl in that article wanted to do gestion administrative at an IUT (where they select), but she didn't get a place, so has had to resort to university instead.

mathanxiety Tue 11-Dec-12 16:05:00

'Sciences Po people'

Sarkozy is the exception that proves the rule. He attended but didn't graduate due to failing English iirc.

'Ministers (N.B. This is a small selection given almost every minister since the inception of the Fifth Republic studied at the Institute.)'

'Diplomats (N.B. This is a small selection given almost every diplomat since the inception of the Fifth Republic studied at the Institute.)'

mummytime Tue 11-Dec-12 16:12:33

NigellaGuest all MFL courses in my day (a very long time ago it seems) involved a year abroad, so I'm very surprised you find that revolutionary. Some did a year at a Uni, others worked (a lot as Language assistants).

bachsingingmum Wed 12-Dec-12 14:08:36

Both my DD and my niece are currently studying for MFL degrees at UK universities and won Erasmus places. DD spent last year in Germany and spent it learning Arabic ab initio. She loved it, did well comparatively (pehaps because everyong was learning from scratch) and now has near native German. She made a point of getting accommodation and socialising with Germans rather than other Brits to help her German. My niece is in France and I think finding it a lot harder. What folk have said about the place being deserted at weekends is true and because she has been doing French courses the standards required are much higher. The French students have not been as friendly either.

NigellasGuest Wed 12-Dec-12 14:36:29

Boomting thank you for that - my DD has in fact expressed an interest in "Politics and Government" A'level, (plus French, Spanish and English). You are all so helpful and full of informed advice - thank you thanks

Mindingalongtime Wed 12-Dec-12 19:10:30

nigellasguest My DD went to ULIP, thoroughly recommend it and if you need homestay, I can help

Mindingalongtime Wed 12-Dec-12 19:11:37

Ulip - University of London (in Paris)

prettybird Wed 12-Dec-12 19:22:57

At my (Scottish) Uni, a term abroad was compulsory, not a year. If you could get a job as an assistant(e) (or whatever the equivalents were in Germany), then you could do a year in addition to (in the middle of) your 4 year degree.

If you did the year, then the term was not compulsory - particularly useful if you were doing a joint degree as otherwise it meant lots of catching up.

TrazzleMISTLEtoes Wed 12-Dec-12 19:35:01

I've not read the thread so this may have been covered but I spent a year at university in France studying Law. I was at a good university but it is a completely different mindset.

I'm assuming all subjects are taught the same, which they may not be, but lectures were just that. Lectures. 4 hours of dictation, on the trot, every morning with 5 minutes break every hour. Even some of the French students struggled to keep up. We had no chance.

Possibly because law is popular, but the system is brutal. They took 2000 law students in the first year and then every year failed half the course so the number kept decreasing by half.

I only passed the year because we only had to do a written exam in 1 subject (which I failed) and had oral exams in all the rest. The French students obviously had all written exams. In our oral exams we were marked as foreign students so they took the pass mark of 50% as a baseline. I only know of one person who failed an oral exam and she really didn't know what she was talking about.

Studying abroad in a foreign language is bloody hard.

Also, and this is by no means a reflection on all French cities, we got a lot of flack on the street for being foreign. A friend got punched in the face for being English. I know of one foreign student with us who was raped. People got groped on the metro. And the verbal abuse...

I adore France and I would gladly go back to that city (and probably will as I still have friends there). I do go back to France regularly. It is just not necessarily as romantic and idealistic as she may hope.

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