The democratization of higher education in France
The rising number of students registered in higher education in France shows that higher education has become more accessible and widespread within the French population. French public universities are financed by the State and welcomed more than 1.6 million students in 2021, of which the majority were following a degree course in Art and Humanities. In comparison, only 796,100 students were registered at university in France in 1980. The same increase in the number of students has been seen in preparatory classes for entrance to the selective engineering, business or management schools called Grandes Ecoles.
The limits of the attractiveness of the French education system
Only one French university was found in the ranking by Times Higher Education on the top European Universities in 2020-2021. Despite having 617 universities in 2021, France appears to be struggling when it comes to reach the top best universities in Europe. Public spending could explain the difficulties French universities have, compared to their British counterparts for example. Even though more trainings are now provided in English, French language could also have been an obstacle to attract international prestige. However, France welcomed more than 50 thousand students from the European Union and the European Economic Area in 2012.