Two French universities make it into ‘top 100’

Only two French universities made it into the latest top 100 ranking published on Tuesday, in a list dominated by the UK and the US.

Two French universities make it into 'top 100'
Photo of student in Paris: Shutterstock

The Ecole normale supérieure in Paris was ranked as France's top university and came 23rd overall in the QS World University Rankings, rising one place from last year's tables.

The university, which scored well in philosophy and natural sciences, is “widely considered to be the most selective and most challenging institution of higher learning and research in France,” noted QS.

The Ecole normale supérieure in Paris. Photo: AFP
The university boasts laureates including novelist Jean-Paul Sartre and philosopher Michel Foucault, as well as 12 Nobel Laureates across all fields.
Elsewhere in France, the Ecole Polytechnique came in 40th, dropping from 35th last year. 

There were an additional 21 French universities that made the top 500, with the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) at 137th the next highest rated among them.

The ranking is just the latest global table to suggest French universities are struggling as a whole to compete with other countries.

The UK managed four of the top ten alone, and 18 in the top 100. The US could lay claim to four of the top five and 30 in the top 100. Elsewhere in Europe, Germany boasted four in the top 100 and Sweden had two.

The number one university in the world, according to QS, is the United States' MIT, closely followed by Harvard, with Stanford and the United Kingdom's Cambridge claiming a shared third place.

The QS World University Rankings annually rate 800 universities, based on measures including academic reputation, reputation among employers, citations, mentoring and student performance. The full rankings can be viewed here.

While France as a country may not have shone in the ranking, Paris has a stellar reputation when it comes to city by city comparisons. The capital has come out on top in QS rankings for years running when it comes to the world's “best student cities”.

READ ALSO: Studying in France – what you need to know

Studying in France: what you need to know

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Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules

Around three-quarters of French teachers plan to go on strike onThursday to protest the government's shifting rules on Covid testing for students, forcing the closure of half the country's primary schools, a union said Tuesday.

Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

The strike led by the Snuipp-FSU union, the largest among primary school teachers, comes after the latest of several changes on testing and isolation requirements for potential Covid cases announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex late Monday.

After seeing long lines of parents outside pharmacies and labs in recent days to test children in classes where a case was detected, Castex said home tests could now be used to determine if a student could return to school.

But teachers say class disruptions have become unmanageable with the spread of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant.

“Students cannot learn properly because attendance varies wildly, and a hybrid of in-house and distance learning is impossible to put in place,” the Snuipp-FSU said, adding that absent teachers are not being replaced.

It is also demanding the government provide facemasks for staff, including the more protective FFP2 masks, and CO2 monitors to check if classrooms are sufficiently ventilated.

“Not only does the current protocol not protect students, staff or their families, it has completely disorganised schools,” the union said, claiming that classes have effectively been turned into “daycare centres.”

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has said the government is doing everything possible to avoid outright school closures that could cause havoc for parents and jeopardise learning for thousands, especially those in low-income families.

“I know there is a lot of fatigue, of anxiety… but you don’t go on strike against a virus,” Blanquer told BFM television on Tuesday.

As of Monday some 10,000 classes had been shut nationwide because of Covid cases, representing around two percent of all primary school classes, Blanquer said.