This level of education is almost non-existent in France. Indeed, the diploma sanctioning the end of upper secondary studies (ISCED 3) – the baccalauréat – is considered to be the first grade in higher studies (ISCED 5).
However, there are two diplomas that pupils can obtain without the baccalauréat and which provide them with access to higher studies: this is the Capacité en Droit (basic legal qualification) and the "Diplôme d'Accès aux Etudes Universitaires" (DAEU, diploma giving access to university studies).
The Capacité en Droit (basic legal qualification) is a State diploma, recognised on the same level as the baccalauréat. It is delivered only by universities after two years of training. The training is available to young people who have attained the age of 17, with no diploma conditions (such as the baccalauréat). It offers the possibility for access to higher education but it can be put to use immediately from a professional standpoint. There was 412 laureates in 2015.
The DAEU is a national diploma, which is also recognised on the same level as the baccalauréat. In order to be able to enrol in the DAEU, the candidate must have interrupted his initial studies for at least two years and satisfy one of the following conditions:
- be at least 20 years old on 1 October of the year the diploma is awarded and prove two years of professional activity on this same date, full time or part time, that have generated social security contributions.
- be at least 24 years old on 1 October of the year the diploma is awarded.
The diploma is awarded:
- after one year of training corresponding to a timetable of a minimum of 225 hours of education;
- after an examination organised by the University which makes it possible to evaluate the knowledge and the general culture as well as the methods and know-how of the candidates according to the requirements needed to continue studies.
Two diplomas providing access to university studies are available:
- the DAEU A, to continue with higher studies in the following areas: humanities, arts, human and social sciences, languages, communication, law, economic sciences, administration, management.
- the DAEU B, to continue with higher studies in the following areas: sciences, technologies, sports and physical activities, medicine, odontology, pharmacy, paramedical sector.
There was 6,042 laureates in 2015.