International students bring in 1.35 billion a year to the French economy

Posted Nov 28, 2022, 3:00 PMUpdated Nov. 28, 2022, 4:38 p.m.

The political contribution of international students is regularly underlined, evoking influence and “soft power”. We talk less about their economic impact. It is however major, according to a survey that has just published Campus France, the agency of promotion abroad of the tricolor higher education.

It was carried out with the Kantar Public Institute between February and April, on nearly 10,000 international students who have resided and studied in France over the past three years. It concludes with a net economic contribution of 1.35 billion euros per year.

“An impact on the influence of France”

The average monthly daily expenses of the 302,863 students concerned (+9% in one year) thus represent 2.8 billion euros in revenue over a calendar year, to which are added registration fees (873 million), French-language training (73 million), administrative costs for visas or residence permits (35 million), tourist expenses of their family and friends (392 million), one-time transport expenses (461 million) or more social security contributions related to the jobs they perform (375 million). In total, these foreign students bring in 5 billion euros per year to the French economy.

To reach the net contribution of 1.35 billion, the study lists 3.7 billion in public expenditure directed towards these students. The largest share obviously concerns the internal expenditure on education which is attributable to them (3.1 billion), but also the amount of grants from the French government (53 million), that of housing aid (207 million), social security expenses concerning them (247 million) or the operating cost of Campus France and diplomatic services (87 million). “This is an additional argument for keeping our borders open, but the objective of international student mobility cannot be to capture expenses on their part, insists Donatienne Hissard, general manager of Campus France. It is first and foremost the desire to attract the best students and researchers to contribute to the advancement of science and international exchanges. »

“First prescribers in the country”

“Beyond the direct economic impact, the reception of international students has an impact on France’s influence”, underlines the study, citing the respondents to the survey who wish to work with French companies (88% of them), consume French products (80%) or return to France for tourism (88%). These students are also “the country’s leading influencers” and recommend France as a destination for work (84%), vacation (93%), stay for studies (90%) or to live there (75%).

Among the mobile students who come to France each year, 32% come from North Africa and the Middle East, 24% come from sub-Saharan Africa, 20% from Europe, 16% from Asia and the Oceania and 8% from the Americas. The majority are enrolled in university (69%), business school (13%) or engineering school (8%). Most are preparing a master’s (49%) or a license (31%), particularly in science (including STAPS) for nearly 30% of them, far ahead of business and management (17%) or humanities and social (11%).

Like the dozen countries that have carried out studies to measure the economic impact of international students, the revenue generated by their presence therefore exceeds the expenditure directed towards them, underlines the survey. The last French study dates back to 2014. Eight years later, the number of foreign students hosted in France has increased by 32%, while the contingent of mobile students in the world has jumped by 42% and new major countries of reception have imposed themselves in the first places of the classification.

The key numbers

10% Of students surveyed

This is the share of those who claim to have had to shorten the duration of their stay due to the pandemic. But 11% of respondents also say they have extended their stay, and most of them, for more than three months.

62% of students surveyed

mention the negative effect of the pandemic on their income, in connection with their paid activity.

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