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.
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.
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