It's certainly easier to attract the adventurous young who are in the process of becoming well-educated and highly-skilled and who have not yet started their careers in their home countries. Once they have studied in the destination country, made friends and learned the language, it's probably a lot easier to convince them to stay as opposed to watching them leave and then trying to entice them back though programs like the Blue Card. Even if they do leave after their studies are completed, they go home with a wide network of friends and contacts and (one hopes) a good impression of the people and the culture they spend time in.
Most countries see the value. The U.S. and Canada, two top destinations for international students, actively seek out these students and have programs to retain them after graduation. But there is another top destination that doesn't get nearly as much mention and that is France. According to Hristina Petrova, in her paper "Approaches to Globalized Education: Policies towards International Students in the USA and EU," 47% of international students may go to English-speaking countries but France has a sizable share too with 7% of the nearly 3 million international students choosing French universities as their destination.
Clearly the French government would like to increase those numbers. One of the ways it demonstrated its commitment to attracting foreign students was the creation of something called CampusFrance.
Founded in 1998, CampusFrance's mission is to:
"de promouvoir les formations supérieures françaises dans le monde ;With 117 offices in 89 countries I'd say the French government takes this very seriously indeed. Their website has a wealth of information about Why You Should Choose France (among other things, for France's "art de vivre"), How to Come to France to Study (programs and financial assistance), and How to Prepare to Come to France (tip: learn French :-).
- d’offrir aux étudiants étrangers un parcours de réussite dans l’accès aux études supérieures en France, de la première information sur place jusqu’au séjour en France et au retour dans le pays d’origine.
(- offer international students a path to success via higher education in France by assisting students with their first enquiries made in their home countries to their actual stay in France and ending with their return home.")
France not only has some very fine universities and research institutions, it is a country with a commitment to making higher education accessible and affordable.
(And to my French friends who would probably tell me it isn't that cheap and there are tuition increases, I didn't take into account living expenses and so on and so forth, I would just like to say that the university I graduated from in the US is now charging 26,000 USD a year for non residents (10,000 USD for residents) and it is a good university, but it's not Harvard. In addition those numbers are just the tuition and do not include books and living expenses.)
France is definitely a contender in this market. If you or someone you know is interested in studying abroad, French higher education is definitely worth checking out.