The number of foreign students attending courses at French universities has increased by 60 per cent since 1998. There are currently 250,000 foreign students studying in France, or 13.7 per cent of all university students. The universities are pleased both because it reflects well on the quality of the education provided but also because the income generated by foreign students goes a long way towards helping them balance their budgets.

However, the French government is not entirely pleased, because it is not attracting the students it wants. It was hoping for top-notch students from around the world and particularly from other European countries, however these last make up only 16 per cent of the total whereas about half of all foreign students are from Africa. Another problem is that only 40 per cent of these students end up obtaining their degree. The government had been hoping for greater diversity and better results. Apparently student visas are being used by young people as a means to enter France, rather than to study.