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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Mobility in higher education


13.Mobility and internationalisation

13.2Mobility in higher education

Last update: 31 March 2024

Mobility Programmes for Students

Higher education students have several kinds of programmes enabling them to carry out part of their studies abroad: European programmes, as well as bilateral or multilateral programmes.

Since 2002, France has reformed the structure of its higher education system (licence-master-doctorat) and introduced the ECTS system (transferable credits), in line with the principles of the Bologna process, with the aim of facilitating student mobility within the European area and all over the world.

European programmes

France is actively involved in the main European programmes designed to enhance student mobility: 

Erasmus+ Programme

A European programme for education, training, youth and sport

Student candidates: all levels and all courses of study, students preparing a diploma in a French higher education institution (HEI) that has an Erasmus Charter for Higher Education.

Timeframe: 2 to 12 months

Characteristics: a study period abroad as part of the university courses.

Objectives: give students (but also to trainees, pupils, apprentices, teachers, trainers, staff, jobseekers, young people, etc.) the opportunity to spend time abroad to enhance their knowledge, skills and employability.

Funding: mobility allowance for students from €200 to €600 per month in Europe / up to €700 outside Europe + €250 per month of "inclusion support" for disadvantaged or disabled students.

Operator: Agence Erasmus+ France

Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters

European integrated study programmes implemented by a consortium of at least 3 HEI, of which at least two are Erasmus programme countries

Student candidates: Master’s students in all fields, within Master’s programmes accredited by the competent national authorities and from HEI with an Erasmus Charter for Higher Education.

Characteristics: a study period abroad as part of the Master’s courses 

Objectives: enhancing the attractiveness of European higher education and the employability of students by supporting excellent Master's level courses and offering scholarships to the best students in the world.

Bilateral mobility programs 

French language assistant teachers

A bilateral programme between France and more than 25 destinations around the world

Candidates : French students between 20 and 35 years old, preparing a diploma in a French higher education institution (the required diploma can vary according to the destination country).

Timeframe: 4, 5 or 12 months

Characteristics: French assistant teachers in non-French-speaking countries.

Activities: oral language practice with students alongside the teacher, conversation classes with the students, introduction to French civilisation and culture, personalised help for students participation in the implementation of an exchange project, running a language club, contributing to the production of accompanying teaching materials (video and audio recordings).

Funding: compensation varies according to the host country.

Operator: France Education International (FEI)

Student Fulbright Programme

A French-American programme

Candidates: Master’s and PhD students, all disciplines.

Timeframe: one academic year

Characteristics: mobility of French students wishing to study for a Master's or Doctorate degree in the United States, whatever their field of study.

Objectives: for the selected French candidates continue part of their studies in the United States 

Funding: $ 30 000 for 6 to 8 students in 2024

Operator: Fulbright France

Entente Cordiale

A French-British programme, currently Entente Cordiale Herbert Smith Freehills – Cercle Montesquieu in the field of law and Entente Cordiale for the Climate in the environmental field

Candidates: French students at the post-graduate level.

Timeframe: one year

Characteristics: individual mobility; a study or research year in the United Kingdom.

Objectives: experience of daily life in Great Britain, becoming influential in these fields of study, consolidation of Franco-British ties.

Funding: €10,000 

Operator: the British Council

Besides, for private technical higher education institutions and institutions, in particular engineering schools and higher business and management schools, student mobility is also reflected in the organisation of compulsory time spent abroad (academic stays in universities and in other partner HEI and work placements in companies) and, for some, the signing of double diploma agreements.

Other possible grants

Other grants may come from the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs, other ministries, regional councils, etc.

Scholarships awarded by the Ministry of National Education

Mobility grants for work placements

In the domain of post-"baccalauréat" vocational training and technical education, scholarships designed to support work placements in a European Union country are provided to students preparing for a ‘BTS’ diploma. The placement, with a 3 to 10-week duration, must be in a foreign language, within an industrial or commercial company.

Studying in the countries of the Council of Europe

French students or students from the European Union who wish to pursue higher education in a public HEI in one of the member countries of the Council of Europe can benefit from a grant awarded based on social criteria, in the same conditions as in France, for the preparation of a foreign national qualification. For doing so, they must be enrolled on a full-time basis for an academic year or two semesters, depending on the country, in a HEI officially recognised by the State to pursue advanced studies leading to a national diploma, courses which, in France, are not under the authority of the Ministry of National Education (e.g.: architecture, veterinary studies etc.) and language upgrade courses are excluded from this scope.

 Scholarships awarded by the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs

International mobility aid

This aid is intended to support the international mobility of students wishing to pursue advanced training abroad as part of an exchange programme or carry out an international internship. This training or internship must figure in the framework of their curriculum.

It is done in the form of supplementary aid to the social-criteria grant for recipient students.

Recipients of this aid, which is subject to an annual quota, are selected by the HEI where the students are enrolled. It should be noted that only those HEI governed by the contracting procedure with the Ministry of Higher Education may grant this aid for international mobility.

The aid is paid directly by CROUS based on recipient lists communicated by HEI.

Aid for studying in France

The Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs also awards scholarships within the framework of specific programmes. Three scholarship programmes designed to attract the best foreign students are mentioned hereafter:

  • "Eiffel" excellence scholarship: set up in 1999, the "Eiffel excellence scholarship" programme is aimed at the best foreign students who want to continue their higher education in France, at master or doctorate level in 2nd and 3rd cycle levels, in three major domains: engineering sciences, economics – management, law – political science.
  • "Major" excellence scholarship programme: the objective of this excellence scholarship programme, launched at the beginning of the 2000 university year, is to facilitate further studies for former pupils of French "lycées" abroad, holders of a French "baccalauréat" who already benefit from a first 2-year excellence scholarship programme, managed by the Agency for French education abroad (AEFE). More specifically, the scholarship awarded enables those who completed their "licence" to continue studying for 3 more years in "grandes écoles" or university cycles, until they are awarded the master qualification.
  • French Government scholarships: these are awarded for studies, placements or language trips to France. Most of them are awarded by the cultural cooperation and initiative services of the French Embassies and general Consulates abroad. There are several categories of scholarship:
  • Study scholarship: the "study scholarship" is granted to students enrolled in the regular cycle of a French higher education institution with a view to obtaining a diploma awarded by this institution;
  • Placement scholarship: the "placement scholarship", the duration of which varies on average from 3 to 12 months, is awarded with a view to training, perfecting, or specialising in a study connected with a professional occupation. It can also be a short-term language scholarship or short-term pedagogical placement scholarship (3 months), for training courses authorised by the Ministry of National Education; 
  • High level scientific trip scholarship: the "high level scientific trip scholarship", with an average duration of one to three months, is granted within the framework of a high-level cultural, scientific, technical or industrial research and exchange programme.

In addition, it should be underlined that foreign students, who do not benefit from a scholarship, can benefit, in the same capacity as French students, from particularly low enrolment fees for universities and public education institutions on the authority of the Ministry of National Education.


Academic Staff Mobility

National policy objectives relating to the mobility of staff in higher education

France’s strategy for promoting staff mobility in higher education consists mainly on the country’s participation in EU programmes as part of its European commitments, with regard to the Bologna Process as well. Mobility is a priority at European level, it has been in France especially since 2017.

Beyond the EU framework, public authorities are involved in international mobility actions at bilateral level: the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, and the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs work closely with their foreign partners to encourage mobility of French researchers abroad, and of foreign researchers towards France. Target figures, in particular concerning mobility among higher education staff, have not been set at national level, but the “internationalisation” of higher-education institutions (their training and their research projects involving scientific staff) is clearly part of the development strategy of higher education and of research in France. International openness represents one of the aspects of evaluation adopted by the French High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES)

National mobility programmes for higher-education staff

In France, mobility among higher education staff concerns young researchers in particular (doctoral and post-doctoral students) and also teaching staff (teacher-researchers: lectures and university professors). Outside the numerous European exchange programmes (like the “Marie Curie” programme) and international mobility programmes set up at the initiative of other countries (e.g. Fulbright programme), mobility among higher-education staff essentially comes within the framework of:

  1. bilateral exchange programmes and financial assistance for mobility, set up under the supervision of the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs as well as the Ministry of Higher Education and Research; 
  2. partnerships set up by HEI exercising their educational and budgetary independence.

National programmes under the supervision of the Ministry of  European and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research

Those are programmes and financial assistance to mobility that fit into the framework of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ policy of supporting international scientific and technological exchanges; they are implemented with the support of the Ministry of Higher Education and for Research. 

Below are mentionned some examples:

  • The Hubert Curien partnerships (Partenariats Hubert Curien – PHC), the aim of which is to develop scientific and technological exchanges of excellence between research laboratories attached to scientific communities, by encouraging new research projects. PHCs are aimed at public and private research laboratories that are part of HEI, research bodies or private companies. The support allocated is aimed at financing mobility among researchers engaged in international projects;
  • The Hermès programme, the aim of which is to enable young post-doctoral researchers in humanities and social sciences from countries in Asia, Latin America, and South Africa to undertake research placements in France. Those placements last between three and nine months. They are designed to enable invited researchers to carry out individual research projects within a host laboratory, and to set up long-lasting cooperations between their home institution and the host one. The Hermès programme was set up at the initiative of the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs, in relation with the House of Human Sciences Foundation (Fondation Maison des Sciences de l‘Homme – FMSH), the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, and the ‘Humanities and Social Sciences’ Department of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (Centre national de la recherche scientifique – CNRS). The FMSH provides scientific and administrative management for the programme;
  • The Diderot Scholarships was established in July 1989 by a joint initiative of the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Ministry of Culture and the CNRS. Its aim is to invite post-doctoral researchers in the human and social sciences to spend long-term research placements in French research laboratories that provide them a scientific way of working. Since 2010, the Diderot Scholarships – whilst retaining their own identity – have been incorporated into the new “Fernand Braudel – IFER” (International Fellowships for Experienced Researchers) programme, which is supported by the European Union (Mare Curie Action Programme);
  • The CAPES-COFECUB Agreement (Coordination for Training Higher-Level Staff - French Committee for Evaluating University Cooperation with Brazil – Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior - "Comité Français pour l’Évaluation de la Coopération Universitaire avec le Brésil") was signed in 1979 between France and Brazil. It aims at continuing high-level scientific exchanges between the two countries. It enables equal-shares cofinancing of short missions by university researchers and lecturers, as well as the provision of training for Brazilian doctorate holders in France and for French doctorate holders in Brazil who work on projects of scientific excellence across the range of disciplines;
  • The USP-COFECUB Agreement (University of São Paulo - French Committee for Evaluating University Cooperation with Brazil – Universidade de São Paulo - "Comité Français pour l’Évaluation de la Coopération Universitaire avec le Brésil") was put in place in 1994 at the joint initiative of the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs and the University of São Paulo. It aims at setting up a system of academic exchanges that enables Brazilian and French research professors to develop high-level joint research across the range of disciplines;
  • The Zhang Heng programme, aimed at young French researchers from research laboratories attached to HEI or to public research bodies. It enables finance to be provided for a one-week stay in China with the purpose of giving to French researchers the knowledge of research carried out in China in the field of infectious diseases, more particularly in relation to topics chosen for implementing the Franco-Chinese scientific cooperation in the field of emerging infectious diseases;
  • The Franco-Argentine Bernardo Houssay programme, which provides finance for mobility amongst post-doctoral students (up to a maximum of 10 years following thesis defence) in the context of common research projects;
  • The Partner University Fund: set up in 2007 to facilitate the implementation of long-lasting academic partnerships between the USA and France. It enables financial support to be provided for large-scale calls for projects that are open to all French and American HEI and research bodies. The actions are financed for three consecutive years by the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs as well as by private USA donors, and are very diverse by nature: student mobility and joint honours, joint supervision of theses, lecturer visits, joint publications, etc.

Partnerships put in place by independent HEI

By the virtue of the independence granted under law no. 68-978 of 12 November 1968 and of law no. 2007-1199 of 10 August 2007, the HEI can set up international partnerships with other universities in Europe and around the world, in order to develop common research projects. Those partnerships very often include mobility among researchers and teacher-researchers. In a context of increased international competition in research and innovation, French HEI are strongly engaged in putting in place strategies to boost their visibility at the international level, which involves mobility and cooperation actions with many partners abroad.

Authorities responsible for organising, coordinating and financing the cooperation programmes

As mentioned above, in France, the mobility of higher education staff fits into the framework of exchanges and financial support for mobility set up under the supervision of the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs as well as the Ministry of Higher Education and Research within the framework of partnerships set up by indipendent HEI. The institutions responsible for organising and financing them are the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research. The latter is often more involved in implementing programmes, for example as regards the evaluation of projects submitted by candidates to a mobility. The management of arrangements is generally given to a public institution placed under the supervision of the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs as well as the Ministry of Higher Education and Research. 

Campus France

The Campus France Agency was set up by the law of 27 July 2010. It is tasked with managing international mobility amongst students, researchers, experts, and guests. The decree of 30 December 2011 sets out the Agency’s organisation and terms of action.

Furthermore, mobility partnerships and plans put in place by HEI are managed by instituts. By way of example, at the University of Paris Cité, mobility plans are managed by the ‘International Partnerships Directorate’, placed under the responsibility of the University Vice-Chancellor and the General Manager of Services; its mission is, inter alia, to manage the means made available for the development on the international scene of the university in all its aspects: mobility amongst students and research professors, joint training or research programmes. Since the law no. 2007-1199 of 10 August 2007, universities have enjoyed full independence in terms of budget management: thus, it is possible for them to finance part or all of an exchange programme. In general, that takes the form of ‘financial assistance for mobility’, a grant intended to finance mobility costs for researchers involved in a scientific cooperation project with other partners in Europe and around the world.

The financial means made available by universities from their budgets can be added to other financial resources for mobility, such as:

  • funding granted by the French National Research Agency (ANR - "Agence nationale de la recherche", a public administrative institution) to research projects of excellence. The ANR has included amongst its priorities the development of European and international collaboration; in the context of signing agreements with foreign agencies, it sets up bilateral or multilateral partnerships on topics of common interests that are deemed strategic by the agencies;
  • scholarships to support the mobility made available by certain local authorities (municipalities, "départements", and "régions").

Evaluating the impact of mobility programmes

The HCERES is tasked with evaluating higher education and research institutions, research bodies, higher education training programmes and degrees, as well as with validating their staff-evaluation procedures. Examining the strategy of international openness amongst various institutions (setting up international partnerships; availability of mobility scholarships for students and researchers;

transparency and legibility of training programmes, etc.), are part of the overall evaluation of each institution.   

 Financial conditions for taking part in the programmes

In the majority of cases, financial support for mobility is represented by scholarships. They cover all travel costs, and may include a ‘per diem’ for daily expenses. In the case of partnerships between universities, mobility is financed by additional scholarships, aimed at financing only the cost of travel abroad – the mobility “assistance” (made available by universities and research bodies; national agencies like the ANR; local authorities, etc.) 

Mechanisms for encouraging participation (e.g. career advancement) for the staff 

In the case of resaerchers/professors, the provisions of articles 39 and 55 of decree no. 84-431 of 6 June 1984 setting out the common statutory provisions applicable to researchers/professors, and giving special status to the corps of university professors as well as the teacher-researchers (lecturers and university professors), provide that a seniority bonus of one year, taken into account the  advancement in grade, is granted on request to lecturers (article 39) and university professors (article 55) who have, in that quality, completed a period of mobility of at least two years, or of one year if the mobility was accomplished within a HEI or a research institution of a Member State of the European Union or the European Economic Area, other than France.

A similar provision is in place in favour of researchers who come under decree no. 83-1260 of 30 December 1983, which sets the common statutory provisions for the corps of civil servants in public scientific and technological institutions.

Article 11 of the same text provides that a seniority bonus of one year, taken into account for advancement in grade, is granted to researchers who, from the date of publication of the decree, complete a period of mobility of at least two years in another research or HEI, abroad or within a State administrative body, a local authority, or a public or private business.

In addition, various actions are carried out at local or international level in order to foster possibilities for joining research teams in other countries.