Student mobility in France in the post-war period.

Abdelkader Latreche


International openness or the welcoming of foreign students is an ancient tradition in French universities and other educational institutions. If this openness has long been maintained, it has nonetheless undergone many modifications over the past century. The European students who predominated at the beginning of the twentieth century have been followed in recent decades by students coming from France's former colonies. Through the reconstruction of the foreign student presence in France since the beginning of the twentieth century, this paper is intended to bring out the transformations and rationales accompanying their reception. To this end, it is necessary first of all to apprehend this presence as a historical fact and resituate it within the context of France's ties with the different regions of the world and specific political and regional upheavals. Without speaking of the "end" of the foreign student, we would argue that a better understanding of the "paradoxical" or "crisis" situation of the reception of foreign students at present, calls for an examination of the role played by the language of studies in the home country in the choice of France as educational destination, as well as international transformations and migrations.[1] At present, for the North African students who represent 30 percent of the foreign students in France, the choice of this country for studies is above all determined by the common language. The fact that French has gone from being the language of studies to a foreign language and the proliferation of American institutions and training programmes in North Africa will certainly orient future generations of North African graduates towards other study destinations. This trend would confirm the changing nature of students' international mobility.


[1] Serge Slama (1999). La fin de l'étudiant étranger. [The end of the foreign student.] Paris: L'Harmattan.

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