Expanding Horizons: Developments in Education Between China and France
- Posted by Newsdesk
- On 10th January 2017
- Chinese students, Confucius Institute, Education, France
In 2015, around 1.26 million Chinese students studied abroad, representing approximately 25% of the total number of students studying in other countries. In France, these numbers are particularly noticeable. According to the Institute of International Education, China is the second largest sending nation to France (after Morocco) in terms of total international student enrollment, sending over 28,000 students in the 2015/16 period, or 9.1% of the international student population. It is expected that by 2020, these numbers will double. To accommodate the influx of Chinese students, academic ties have been expanding between France and China in recent years, with a number of training courses and exchange programs established. However, many Chinese students so far have expressed that they are having a hard time adapting to life in France.
According to Jean-Louis Rocca, a China specialist at the Centre for International Research at Sciences Po, universities are aware that parents of Chinese students studying in France are willing to invest heavily in their children during their time abroad. However, more effort should be made to adapt not only in relation to business and the housing market, but in making Chinese students feel more at home in France. One student commented that he still can’t understand the French – ‘how they see the world, the way that they think. French culture remains for me a mystery.’ Given that the Chinese diaspora in France represent the largest overseas Chinese community in Europe, it is in the interest of French universities, institutes, language centers and businesses to open up in more than simply economic ways to Chinese visitors and residents.
In December 2016, the 17th Confucius Institute in France was established in Cote d’Azur – the third Institute established by Tianjin University after two in Slovakia and Australia. One of the specific goals for the Institute is to develop programmes adapted specifically to life in Cote d’Azur. Zhu Liying, Consul General of China at Marseille, hopes that the Institute will play a significant role in enhancing mutual understanding and cultural communication between French and Chinese people. The establishment and continued establishment of such Institutes are certainly a step in the right direction.
In recent years, a number of Chinese government funded scholarships have been created to encourage Chinese students to study in France. Before 2020, China is expected to send 10,000 funded students to France as part of a new programme launched following the 2nd meeting on China-France high-level cultural and people-to-people exchanges in Beijing in 2015. Benefits are not only extending to those in university, but to those pursuing vocational training as well, with the first intern exchange programme between China and France instated in the past year. The internship plan allows 1,000 vocational students from China to work and study at enterprises or companies as interns in France, whilst 1,000 French students intern in China. The programme is open to Chinese who have held a diploma for under a year or who have completed at least three years of higher education. Such programmes are a great first step in terms of initiating partnerships between France and China. What remains to be seen is whether French organisations, universities and companies work harder to encourage cross cultural dialogue, as the Confucius Institutes attempt to.
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Sources: Institute of International Education, China Daily, The State Council (PRC), Le Monde, Hanban News, Tianjin University.