Spotlight on Europe 2017: How can French universities reach their international student recruitment targets?

Spotlight on Europe 2017: How can French universities reach their international student recruitment targets?


The French education system that traces back to the Roman Empire. With it’s strong academic and artistic tradition, France is arguably one of the world’s most popular study destinations in recent history.

Few countries invest as much in research and education as France so the number of international students opting for French institutions is still rising.

Where do these students come from?

France still relies on parts of Africa, and other former French colonies, for the bulk of their international enrolment. It makes sense – there are rarely any language barriers, and the education systems of those countries are often based on that of France, which makes for an easy and seamless transition.

Europe is still a very important market for France as the second largest source of foreign students – especially Italy, Spain, Portugal and the UK.

The number of Indian students in France continue to rise, and of course, don’t forget China – which has grown to become a significant source of international students in France. Attracted by the prestigious institutions and strong contingent of internationally recognised business schools, they account for over 60% of all Asian enrolment.

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What are they doing to appeal to international students?

With a target of increasing their international student intake by 20% by 2025, (which equates to a not insignificant 170,000 new students!), the government and education sector are working hard to raise France’s profile and regain their position as a top study destination

Part of this is the PNVE (The National Student Life Plan); an initiative recently announced by Francois Hollande, which outlines 35 new measures to make life easier for international student graduates. Housing, residence permits, and support in social integration and other services all feature prominently – with roll out due for Autumn 2016. It’ll be interesting to see the impact this has on increasing international student numbers.

See our top tips below for how to stand out from the competition and engage with prospective students:


1: Use innovative and immersive creative to appeal to the emotion of prospective students – 360 degree video is a great way of doing this. Check out this virtual tour we created for The Courtauld Institute of Art.

2: Well thought out and research-informed creative will resonate with your audience and make you stand out from the crowd.


1: Social media is hugely popular, and is a great way to drive brand awareness of your institution and courses – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are all good options

2: Africa is known for contributing thousands of student enquiries but the conversion to application rate is notoriously low, so a robust conversion strategy is vital in this market


1: Chinese students are motivated to study abroad by the enhanced employability and career prospects, which includes the international reputation of the institution – so place a great focus on these in your recruitment strategy for China.

2: Research shows that subject specific rankings are more important to Chinese students than overall rankings, so promote any subject specialisms you offer.

3: Career services, links to the business community and connections with prestigious businesses are all a major draw.

4: Peer reviews go a long way in convincing Chinese students of where to study so using current students as advocates would be a great way to go.

5: Use Baidu – China’s main search platform.

Get in touch with our team of digital experts, to learn how we can revolutionise your digital marketing strategy and generate more student enrolments for your institution.