The educational system in France has a lot of specificities, which make it quite incomprehensible for any foreigner willing to study in France. This section aims to give you some keys to understand the French system and, for that, nothing worth a little diagram.
Please upload the diagram above... As you see, things start being quite complicated after the age of 14. Before that age, every children receive the same education, either in a private or a public school. What is the difference between private and public schools? The difference between private and public schools is mainly financial: public schools are totally free of charges, whereas in private schools parents pay tuition fees. The great majority of private schools enter into a contract with the State, so-called contrat d’association (‘association contract’), and the State keeps the decisive role in the content of the education. For example, the education ministry determines school curricula and the aims underlying the acquisition of knowledge and skills by pupils.
After 14, pupils have two options: either to continue a general education by entering the “lycée général et technologique” (3 years) or to begin vocational training by entering a “lycée professionnel” to prepare a CAP or a BEP.
- The vocational lycées offer both general education and theoretical and practical vocational training, including in-company placements. The BEP gives training for a whole professional sphere, whereas the CAP trains for a specific job. It exists around 200 different CAP and 40 different BEP. After the CAP or the BEP, you can start working or continue your studies to get a vocational Baccalauréat.
- In the general and technological lycées, basic subjects are French, mathematics, physics/chemistry, life and earth sciences, foreign language 1, history/geography, physical education and sport, supplemented by two further subjects that must be chosen by pupils, and one which may be. The time devoted to each of this subject depends of the category you choose. There are 3 general categories (“humanities”, “economic and social sciences” and “sciences”) and 7 technological categories. All of them lead to the Baccalauréat examination, which is the gate to Higher education. More information on the “ Primary and secondary education ” and on the " Vocational Education ” pages. After the Baccalauréat begins the higher education system. Basically, it may be divided in three broad groups: universities, grandes écoles and institutions of technological education. - Universities usually offer a wide range of courses covering many different disciplines. French universities are public institutions. Enrolment is open to any student holding a French Baccalauréat or its foreign equivalent — that is a degree that entitles its holder to begin university study in his or her home country. - Grandes écoles are uniquely French institutions that offer specialized education of a very high standard. This high standard is reflected in the strict admission requirements. Strictly speaking, the term grande école should only really apply to the oldest and most prestigious of these institutions, but in practice many of the more recent institutions also use the title. - Institutions of technological education offer short degree programs (two or three years of study) which are concentrated in the fields of manufacturing, trade and services, and include internship. This kind of two-year technology programs are available at two different types of higher education establishment: University Institutes of Technology (Institut Universitaire de Technologie, or IUT), and High standard technicians’ departments (Section de Techniciens Supérieurs or STS). IUT programs terminate with the DUT higher diploma in technology (Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie). STS courses terminate with the BTS higher technician's diploma (Brevet de Technicien Supérieur). The majority of students enter employment following graduation in one of these 2 programs, but they can also enrol in further study, particularly a vocational licence (licence professionnelle). More information in the “ Higher education ” section. Sources: Eurydice and Ministry of Education
Diagram: education in France (31 KB)