Laurent Wauquiez, the French Minister for Higher Education and Research has defended his administration’s decision to introduce tighter restrictions on international students from outside the EU.
The French Government’s attempts to curb numbers of non-EU students coming to the country to study have been strongly opposed by French students and academics.
Mr Wauquiez said the country's doors “must remain open” to international students, but he wanted to encourage student exchanges between universities, rather than individuals coming to France to study.
Recent orders from the ministries of the interior and of employment tighten the interpretation of 2006 legislation, making it much more difficult for a non-EU foreigner to change from a student's to an employee's status after graduation, and limit their stay in the country after graduation to six months.
Non-EU foreigners wishing to study in France must also prove increased financial resources before they can obtain a residence permit.
The Conférence des Présidents d'Université (CPU) has expressed its disquiet at the “hardening of the rules applicable to foreign students, concerning their entry into France as well as their professional employment”.
It “considers these measures as contrary to the very essence of a university and to the policy [to promote] the attractiveness of French universities in the context of globalisation”.
CPU President Louis Vogel confirmed the body's opposition to the measures last week at a meeting organised by the International Club of Journalists in Paris. “You reduce the attractiveness of universities if you do this. [Students are] not attracted by universities if they have to go back home immediately afterwards.”
Posted by Nick Tellwright
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