I am very pleased to participate, here in London, in this seminar as the representative of the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MHER), and to express our willingness to facilitate and enhance bilateral cooperation between France and the United Kingdom, especially within academic and scientific partnerships and through the greater mobility of students and researchers.
In these areas, our two countries maintain a long tradition of intensive and dynamic cooperation. The vast majority of our institutions have, in one form or another, collaborations established in all disciplines and have strong connections within the network, evidenced by the increase in recent years of double degrees, co-supervisions and theses, and the relatively stable student mobility.
France has a constant desire to develop the internationalisation of students’ curricula. This is a strong message from the Minister of Higher Education and Research, Mrs Valérie Pécresse. The students’ international mobility must become the rule in a training programme. Today, only 4 per cent of European students undertake part of their studies abroad and less than one institution in five in Europe offers an Erasmus programme to its students.
In 10 years, the proportion of foreign students in France has increased considerably, which is a success. Our country hosts 270,000 foreign students and 70,000 French students carry out a programme outside the national territory. Significantly increasing student mobility, especially in Europe, is a major concern for the MHER. France remains one of the top destinations in Europe for British students, with 2500 enrolled in our institutions. Against this indicator, we can compare the attractiveness of England, the first host of French students, with over 13,000 students.
Encouraging mobility requires actions on several aspects:
• students’ language level;
• financial assistance.
That leaves room for improvement. But we also have to strengthen partnerships focused on conjoint training at master's level, leading to double degrees. These formations, opening up career opportunities or research, are a really interesting instrument for the promotion of student mobility and a factor of excellence of cooperation between institutions.
On this point, we want to maximise your experiences and enjoy your achievements, in order to identify both problems to be solved and best practices to model.
This seminar, on which all those who took the initiative have to be commended, is organised at the right time.