Students: Living and Studying in Paris

Information for people moving to Paris to study. With information on the university system in France, the application and enrolment procedures, housing and financial assistance...

Students seeking higher education in Paris have many resources available to assist with housing, financial assistance, job seeking and general orientation. This page provides information about the following:

Choosing a School and Course

There are two main types of higher-education institutions in France:

  1. Universities
  2. Specialised schools

Both types of institutions may offer short degree-programmes and long degree-programmes. The short degree programmes, generally offered by multidisciplinary institutions affiliated with a university or in specialised schools, involve two or three years of study and are concentrated in the fields of manufacturing, trade and services. Long degree programmes are offered at universities, Grandes Écoles and other specialised schools.

Universities

Universities offer academic, technical and professional degree programmes in many disciplines. France's universities are public institutions and enrolment is open to any student holding a French baccalauréat or its foreign equivalent.

In the university system the programmes are split into three successive levels:

  • Licence (equivalent to bachelor's degree): 3 years
  • Master (equivalent to a 1 or 2 year master's degree): 1 or 2 years
  • Doctorat (equivalent to a PhD): 3 years

Specialised schools

Specialised schools offer training for careers in many fields including engineering, management, art, and architecture. Specialised schools are more selective in their admissions, enrol fewer students than universities and may be public or private. The Grandes Écoles are specialised schools which are prestigious and selective.

In the Grandes Écoles and other specialised schools the majority of long programmes involve five years of study, including two years of preparation. Students who successfully complete the two years of preparatory classes can sit for one of the more selective entrance examinations. For international students it is not necessary to complete the preparatory classes and sit the entrance exam as most Grandes Écoles hold some places open for international students and others seeking admission on the basis of their academic record and experience.

In Europe, recognition of degrees and diplomas is assured through a common credit system known as the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

In Paris there are many English-speaking as well as French-speaking universities and schools offering courses in English. For information about these higher education institutions and the courses they offer see:

Submitting an Application

EU nationals

EU citizens wishing to enrol in any year of study can apply directly to the institution of their choice. Requirements and application forms are generally available on the individual institution's websites.

Non-EU nationals

A non-EU citizen wishing to enrol as a first year graduate must file a preliminary application of admission (Demande d'Admission Préalable, DAP) with the cultural services of the French Embassy in their home country.

Students wishing to enrol in the third or higher levels of university can apply directly to the institution of their choice. In all cases, a non-EU citizen must allow enough time to acquire a student visa. This process can only take place once a letter of acceptance has been received from the academic institution.

Visas and residence permits

EU/EEC nationals

There are different formalities for EU and non-EU citizens. EU/EEC nationals do not need to obtain a visa to enter France.

Non-EU students intending to stay in France for more than 90 days must acquire a long-stay student visa, which grants permission to stay in France for up to 12 months, prior to leaving for France. To obtain a visa, contact the nearest French Consulate.

Non-EU nationals: long-stay student visas

Once in France, all students studying in France for the first time must register at the Welcome Centre for Foreign Students (Centre des étudiants étrangers) within three months. No appointment is necessary. An appointment for a mandatory medical exam will be issued once a tax is paid and the registration form is completed. After the medical exam is satisfactorily completed, a sticker is placed in the applicant's passport to confirm registration. A student studying in France for the first time, for up to a year, does not need to obtain a residence permit (Titre/Carte de Séjour).

  • Welcome Centre for Foreign Students (Centre des étudiants étrangers)
    At
    : 13 Rue Miollis, 75015 Paris
    Open: Monday to Thursday 08:35-16:30, Friday 08:35-16:00
    Metro: Ségur or Cambronne

Non-EU nationals: residency permits

Students who have previously already obtained a Visa de Long Séjour valant Titre de Séjour (VLS-TS) should apply to the French Office of Immigration and Integration (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration - OFII) for their residency permit upon arrival. This can be done directly at OFII or at a special OFII counter set up at the Cité Internationale Universitaire at the beginning of the school year from early September to early December.

  • French Office of Immigration and Integration (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration - OFFI)
    At: 48 rue de la Roquette, 75011 Paris
  • Cité Internationale Universitaire
    OFFI Counter

    At: 17 boulevard Jourdan, Harraucourt Room, 75014 Paris
    For the OFFI website: Click here

For information on residence permits see:

Enrolment

The enrolment process is completed only after the acceptance letter is received, the residence permit/visa has been issued (if required) and the student has arrived in France.

As with most higher education intuitions, students must first complete the administrative enrolment at which point a certificat de scolarité (study certificate) and a student ID card are issued; together these confirm legal status as a student. After this administrative enrolment, the student may enrol in courses.

Orientation/Arrival

There are two main welcome/orientation centres for foreign students in Paris:

  1. acc&ss Paris Centre of the Cité Internationale Universitaire
  2. Foreign Students Office (Service des Boursiers Etrangers) at the International Welcome Centre of the Centre Régional des Œuvres Universitaires et Scolaires (Crous de Paris)

The Cité Internationale Universitaire is a residency campus for students, researchers and artists from around the world attending higher education institutions in the Île-de-France. The Cité has 5,700 housing units as well as cultural services, entertainment venues and restaurants. The acc&ss Paris Centre is open all year and can provide information on housing options, assistance with finding a job and connecting with other students.

The Foreign Students Office (Service des Boursiers Etrangers) at Crous has information about finding work and lodging and can answer questions about residency and other issues. The office is open all year.

The CampusFrance website has information for international students and has been approved by some governments to process visas for applicants from some countries.

The Information and Documentation Centre for Youth (Centre d'Information et de documentation pour la jeunesse - CIDJ) offers information and counselling in French on possible fields of study in France. The welcome desk will orientate users to their extensive library of resources and it is possible to speak to a counselor with no appointment necessary. The Centre also houses a bookshop where guides and manuals can be bought as well as an advice centre for young entrepreneurs. The centre also has a booking office offering discounted tickets (for registered students) for events and performances in Paris.

Scholarships

There are three types of scholarship systems in France:

  1. Scholarships provided by the French government for Foreign Affairs
    • Information can be obtained from the Co-operation and Cultural Action Department of French Embassies and Consulates.
  2. Scholarships allocated by the government (usually the Ministry of Education) in the student's country of origin
  3. Scholarships provided by international organisations
    • More information can be found by contacting the relevant organisations or agencies
    • EU citizens may be eligible for specific scholarships as part of EU Commission education programmes such as Socrates-Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci.
      • For information from the European Union about education in Europe, including scholarships: Click here

National Health Insurance

EU nationals may use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) while enroled in a higher education institution in France.

It is obligatory for non-EU nationals to enrol in the French national health insurance scheme (Sécurité Sociale) on registration at their chosen higher education institution or they must purchase private health insurance. If the student is already covered by French social security (such as through a spouse or parent) this does not apply.

The social security system for students in Paris is operated by two organisations: SMEREP and LDME. These two organisations, along with many other insurance companies, also offer supplementary health insurance to cover expenses the national system does not.

  • SMEREP
    Tel
    : 01 56 54 36 34 (Monday to Thursday, 09:00-17:00; Friday 09:00-17:30)
  • LDME
    Tel
    : 01 40 92 54 85 (Monday to Friday, 09:00-18:00)

Students under the age of 28 on 1 October of the school year are eligible for coverage under the national health insurance scheme for the school year. Those over 28 years of age are not eligible and must purchase private coverage, though there are exceptions. Contact the school for further information.

In addition to the national health insurance, optional affiliation to a supplementary insurance plan is common. If affiliated with a student plan (SMEREP or LMDE), it is suggested to choose the same branch for mutual insurance.

Student Housing in Paris

Student complementary insurance schemes may offer help in finding accommodation (classifieds, forums and partnerships). There are a number of accommodation options for students in Paris.

Halls of residence

The Centre Régional des Œuvres Universitaires (Crous de Paris), manages some student residence halls. The accommodation is inexpensive but places are limited and priority is given to students with scholarships from the French government or from certain states that have signed agreements with France. Application can also be made for a room at the Cité Internationale Universitaire.

Additionally accommodation can be found in private student halls.

Private rental

In order to rent a private flat, applicants must justify their income (monthly income must generally be three times the price of  the monthly rent) and usually propose a guarantor who promises to pay the rent if necessary. Renters must take out insurance on rented property.

Crous de Paris offers a "Logement en ville" service, matching property owners and students for the letting of rooms, studio flats or two-roomed flats. It also passes on advertisements from companies that have agreed to offer flats and flat-shares to students with scholarships based on social welfare criteria. This service is free.

For a small fee, some associations such as the Local Committee for the Housing of Young People (Union Nationale des Comités Locaux pour le Logement Autonome des Jeunes - CLLAJ) and the National Union of Student Tenants (Union Parisienne des Etudiants Locataires -UPEL), connect students looking to rent property with property owners.

  • CLLAJ - Paris
    At: 70 rue Javelot, Tour Sapporo, Les Olympiades, 75013 Paris
    Tel: 01 45 84 77 34
    Fax: 01 45 84 77 36
    email
  • For links to other CLLAJs in the Île-de-France: Click here

Student hostels

Student hostels are available to everyone without means testing. They mostly offer furnished rooms and sometimes studio flats at prices which are slightly under the market price. Information can be found from The National Union of Student Homes (Union Nationale des Maisons d'Etudiants - UNME) website, though listings are in French.

Financial assistance for housing

There are there are two available financial allowances providing housing assistance for students:

  1. Social Housing Allowance (Allocation de logement sociale - ALS)
  2. Personalised Housing Allowance (Aide personnalisée au logement - APL)

These programs are administered by the Family Allowance Office (Caisse d'allocation familiale - CAF).

  • For information from the French government on the Social Housing Allowance: Click here (in French)
  • For information from CAF on the Personaled Housing Allowance: Click here (in French)

For assistance paying the deposit required when initially renting lodging, the Avance Loca-Pass system is available. This system provides an interest-free loan for the deposit. Repayment must begin after three months and be completed within 36 months (the full loan amount must be repaid if the student moves out of the property before 36 months). The Garantie Loca-Pass system provides a loan to assist with rent payments for up to 18 months.

  • For information from Action Logement about the Loca-Pass systems: Click here (in French)

The Paris City Hall (Mairie de Paris) grants fifteen housing scholarships each year to young foreign nationals studying in Paris universities or prestigious graduate schools.

  • For more information from the Mairie de Paris: Click here

Part-time Jobs

Students can supplement their income with a student job. Non-EU nationals must submit an application for a temporary work permit and may work a maximum of 20 hours per week.

Banking

Many banks in Paris and the Ile de France provide an English-speaking service to their clientele.

Libraries

Libraries in Paris which may be of interest to students include the following:

  • Bibliothèque nationale de France (François Mitterrand)
    At: Quai François-Mauriac, 75706 Paris
    Tel: 01 53 79 59 59
    Métro: Lines 6 (Quai de la gare), 14 and RER C (Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand)
    Bus: Lines 89, 62, 64, 132 et 325
  • Bibliothèque Publique d'Information, Centre Georges Pompidou
    At: rue Beaubourg, 75004 Paris
    Tel: 01 44 78 12 75
    Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday to Friday, 10:00-22:00. Closed Tuesdays.
    Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 11:00-22:00. Closed 1 May.
  • Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève
    At: 10 place du Panthéon, 75005 Paris
    Tel: 01 44 41 97 97
    Fax: 01 44 41 97 96
    email
  • The American Library in Paris
    At:
    10 rue du Général Camou, 75007 Paris, France
    Tel: 01 53 59 12 60
    Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 10:00-19:00. Sunday: 13:00-19:00

University Restaurants

Crous de Paris has 17 university restaurants and 20 cafeterias in Paris offering a wide range of food. These facilities can be used by:

  • Anyone registered in a higher education course (certified by the French social security system) and holding a student card
  • Student groups
  • International student identity-card holders

Food tickets (normally sold in books of 10) are specific to each Crous de Paris restaurant or cafeteria.

Public Transport

Paris's public transport system includes the Metro underground subway system, a tramway, buses and night bus (Noctilien), Velib bikes and the river Batobus. The RER regional train service extends to the suburbs and the Ile de France.

Information supplied by Claire Mcintosh