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Saturday, December 17, 2011

The French are Foreign Students Too

This headline from Rue89,  Doctorante canadienne expulsable : la France maltraite les étudiants étrangers (Canadian doctoral candidate is deportable:  France is mistreating her foreign students), was of more than passing interest to me.  As some of you already know my elder Frenchling is a foreign student in the province of Quebec in Canada.

What some of you may not know are the details of the extraordinarily generous terms under which Canada has welcomed my French child to her shores:

  • Her performance in high school earned her a conditional acceptance to several universities.  Her Baccalaureate scores confirmed her admission.  Other than the TOEFL for the English-speaking schools, no other tests were required - no SAT or any other entrance exam.
  • On the basis of her French Bac she was awarded a year's worth of class credit which means that she will, if all goes well, complete her four-year degree in three years.
  • And, because of her French citizenship, she is not paying the international student tuition rates - she (we actually) are paying local rates - the same as Canadian students.

All of the above plus clear procedures, assistance from the Canadian Embassy here in Paris and a very warm welcome when she arrived in Montreal.

In 2010 there were over 28,000 French students who chose to go abroad for their studies.  Every single one of them is a guest in someone else's house and it is of the utmost importance to their families and friends here in the Hexagone that they be warmly welcomed and treated well during their stay.

But with recent moves by the French government to target foreign students in France one does have to ask if other countries just might start wondering why their generosity to French students is not being reciprocated.  To be blunt, Gueant's moves against foreigners in France just might mean that French students and French jobseekers abroad will see some of that beneficence reduced, if not eliminated entirely.

I don't believe for a moment that the Canadians would be less welcoming of French students as a result of headlines like the one above.  Everything I have seen and experienced in that country leads me to the firm conviction that they are better than that.  However,  I would not blame them one bit for deciding they are being "pris pour des cons" (taken for fools) and acting accordingly.

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