Foreign students rank France ‘worst in Europe’

France has finished last in a ranking of international student satisfaction in Europe, marking the third year in a row the French have ended bottom of the pile.

Foreign students rank France 'worst in Europe'
International students weren't impressed with the offerings in France. Photo: AFP
A total of 17 European countries outshone France when students were asked to rate how satisfied they were with their exchange experience over the last year, according to new statistics from StudyPortals. 
Students were asked to rate their overall experience out of ten, with Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Switzerland finishing up top. France, which finished 18th, saw one in ten visitors ranking their exchange at lower than six out of ten. 
“The biggest complaint about French universities was that they were not very student centric, at least not in an international sense,” Carmen Neghina, Education Intelligence Specialist at StudyPortals, told The Local. 
She said that many students complained about bureaucracy, overlapping schedules, and timetables that appeared to be designed to suit the university rather than the students.
And in a statistic that perhaps cements the poor standing of France's universities, French students themselves were ranked among the happiest when asked about their own exchange experience abroad (see below). 
International student satisfaction – country of origin
Does this suggest that the even the French aren't impressed with their own situation back home?
“Yes, that could be the case. We noticed a similar trend on the other side of the spectrum with Finnish students, whose universities back home rated second overall, but who were rather dissatisfied when they went abroad,” said Neghina. 
“They're probably used to the good life back home.”
Indeed, Italians, Belgians, Hungarians and the French – who make up four of the five happiest visiting nationalities in the graph above, all came from the four worst host nations, according to the study.
How to survive Paris on a student budget
International students in France complained more often than other students about the difficulty to socialize with local students in France.
This was not a recurring complaint for most other countries, with many students actually praising their host countries for their “great international community”.
But it wasn't all bad news. Foreign students in France were most positive about “interesting courses” and “cultural attractions”.
In terms of the universities themselves, France had no “outstanding” or “excellent” universities, according to the students, but managed five universities with a “very good” rating (see below).
In total, some 86 percent of students Europe-wide were satisfied with their study abroad experience, compared to 89 percent the year before.
The StudyPortals International Student Satisfaction Awards 2015 were based on 17,018 reviews that were posted on the STeXX website, based on the year between summer 2014 and 2015.
READ ALSO: Studying in France – what you need to know
A look at France's legion of foreign students

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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.