Attention bargain shoppers! The average university student costs French taxpayers 9,132 euros per year, but tuition averages only 175 euros for a bachelors and 235 euros for a masters. As a result, the number of foreign students–in particular from China–has been rising. In 1999, 2,000 Chinese students enrolled in French universities; this year it’s 22,000!
Jean-Pascal Gayant, writing in Le Monde, asks if it still makes sense to subsidize relatively affluent foreign students in a time of economic crisis. China has evolved. Perhaps France should too.
Don’t count on French universities to be able to discuss this calmly and come up with a solution, he warns. Their budgets depend on the number of students, and they have no incentive to risk ruffling feathers by suggesting tuition hikes or quotas. A former university vice-president, Gayant suggests that it may be time for law makers to get involved in order to preserve the tradition of welcoming foreign students in universities that have become “Chinese auberges.”