In 2012-2013 there were 8,949 foreign students studying at one of the universities in Languedoc-Roussillon. They account for 12.7% of the total student population in universities outside Paris (mainland France: 11.5%). The region is therefore in fifth place among the French regions for the number of foreign students it welcomes.
The origins of those international students in Languedoc-Roussillon (source: SIES 2012 2013) are as follows: China, 1,243 students (13.9% of all international students welcomed by the region); Algeria, 917 students (10.2%); Morocco, 857 students (9.6%); Senegal, 413 students (4.6%); Tunisia, 313 students (3.5%); Germany, 306 students (3.4%); Gabon, 279 students (3.1%); Spain, 221 students (2.5%); United States, 219 students (2.4%); and Italy, 206 students (2.3%).
A breakdown of these figures by course shows the appeal of undergraduate and doctoral courses. Undergraduate degrees, with 4,330 foreign students (10.2% of those enrolled) are third nationally (national average: 7.4%). Doctoral courses, with 38.1% of foreign students (2,756 students) are in eighth place among the regions in mainland France (national average: 37.4%). At masters degree level, 14.2% of students are foreigners (3,570 students) placing it 12th nationally (national average: 15.2%).
Campus France, the French agency responsible for promoting higher education and for welcoming and managing the international mobility of students, researchers, experts and guests, regularly publishes documents (at national and regional level) providing more information about the mobility of international students, by Académie and university. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics also provides information about the international mobility of students.
A JOINT INTERNATIONAL STRATEGY
Languedoc-Roussillon is a region that attracts and welcomes international students. A process of reflection is under way among the higher education and research institutions in the region (and therefore members, associates and partners of the COMUE) on the development of a joint action, as regards both mobility and the development of cooperation initiatives aimed at improving the site’s attractiveness.
1) Working proactively as far as scientific collaboration is concerned, to strengthen exchanges and the attractiveness of the site: bursaries for foreign doctoral and post-doctoral students and for renowned visiting professors, funding of chairs of excellence of an international nature, putting together courses leading to a double degree, offering courses taught in English, establishing joint laboratories, etc.
2) Carrying out joint actions in terms of the incoming and outgoing mobility of students and staff by strengthening joint practices to make this easier to manage.
3) Increasing the areas of mutual cooperation. This means developing common policies, supported by the local and regional authorities, in liaison with countries where agreements with a number of higher education and research institutions already exist.
4) Setting up a joint Europe Unit (based on the various services already in existence within the institutions) to improve the capabilities and performance of the regional site: information on and monitoring of European programmes, search for funding, assistance with setting up projects, etc.
5) Enhancing the profile of international action in the region: the innovative joint academic platform used for presenting the course offering should include a dedicated website for presenting the course offering and showing a map of all the international cooperation agreements at site level.
6) Setting up a recurring major international event (every 2 or 3 years) similar to the ‘World Class Forum’.
7) Using the skills and expertise of the institute for learning French as a foreign language (Institut des Etudes de Français pour Etrangers, IEFE) for FLE (French as a foreign language) sessions at all institutions welcoming international students.
8) Setting up international masters courses.
9) Facilitating links with companies and developing a support system for incubating international projects.
A MORE EFFECTIVE COLLECTIVE STRUCTURE
These actions will be facilitated by the establishment of a network of branches or platforms of the Languedoc-Roussillon site with a number of (strategically chosen) foreign partner institutions and associated networks, in the fields of research, teaching and innovation. They should also be able to rely on existing structures such as the Maisons du Languedoc-Roussillon cultural centres to provide tools to promote their offering in the target countries.
It will also be important to be able to make use of facilities that have been established abroad for many years, run by institutions within the site that specialise in international action (CIRAD, IRD). Through long-term cooperation schemes (in more than 50 countries) and the networks developed, these institutions will provide gateways and bridges to the international arena for the regional site.
A collective international relations network will be established in parallel at the regional site so that the institutions’ expertise in this area can be pooled by encouraging the exchange of information and best practices.
A MULTI-SERVICES RECEPTION PLATFORM FOR ALL INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND RESEARCHERS
It will also be appropriate to make use of existing tools for welcoming international students and researchers to :
1) Expand the strategy for welcoming international students and researchers, in order to ensure they are given the best possible conditions for success at the regional site.
2) Develop and maintain the various joint systems for the successful integration of international students and researchers in Languedoc-Roussillon, both at their place of study and in their host city:
‘One-stop shop’ for residence permits at a complete relocated branch of the Hérault prefecture. Publication of the guide
‘Studying in Languedoc-Roussillon’ (containing practical information for international students and researchers).
The International Mentoring scheme in Languedoc-Roussillon (personalised welcome for international students and researchers).
The PHARE scheme offers assistance to international students and researchers with finding accommodation.
Cultural and educational projects with local partners enabling doctoral students at Montpellier and Perpignan to find out more about French culture and literature.