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Considering French universities/Grande Ecoles

  1. Nov 29, 2009 #1
    I am considering, among my other options, to go to France next year. My choice is the ENS de Lyon, which I have heard bears both a great reputation and a highly intensive curriculum. However in the event of failure to be admitted I may consider the regular universities, but I have read in many sources that the regular unis have a strong "party school" mentality.

    Have any one of you guys been to France and able to tell how things really are as compared to US or UK?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2009 #2


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    I don't live there anymore since 2006 but my mother is professor in a French University (by the way I'm French and I have lived a bit more than half my life there).
    I can tell you that when the Government make a choice that students really don't like, they would block the University until being heard. It can last months (3 months is not really surprising) and students don't have classes. However the final exams aren't reported nor easier than usual, so students have to learn by they own. When many students get upset of not being able to have classes, each University (entirely controlled by students during those time) make a pool in order to vote if they shall continue the blocking or not. The majority wins. So some Universities might return to a normal functioning while others don't, until an at least 1 week postponed time where a new pool takes place. And so on.
    Since Sarkozy has been elected, I think each year many students lose around 1 month of classes.
    I hope I didn't discouraged you. I can't compare with US or UK, but I'm pretty sure those events wouldn't happen at MIT. (They do happen at La Sorbonne however, not sure about the ENS de Lyon : I don't think it is sometime blocked but I can't assure you. You might ask yourself to people there).

    My father who taught in Canada and France told me that as universities in France are free, many students that don't have a defined career goal sit down in classes for chat instead of studying. I think it might be true for the first year. But now with Sarkozy, I think the University is not free anymore so things might change a bit.

    Good luck with the ENS of Lyon... I think it should be a very serious École.
  4. Dec 1, 2009 #3
    Thanks for your reply fluidistic. It seems French regular unis isn't a good idea after all...
  5. Dec 1, 2009 #4


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    Don't make your decision/mind with a single voice. By this I mean to wait someone else to give his opinion.
  6. Dec 1, 2009 #5
    Never been to an ecole myself, but there was someone representing the ecoles at my school. You have to go through a 2 year training program or something, in French. And if you don't know French they teach it to you concurrently. At the end of the 2 years, you have to take a test and your placement in the test decides where you get in.

    At least, that's what the woman told us. :S
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