THE strategic partnership between France and India is built on a strong foundation of people-to-people ties and a genuine friendship between the French and Indian peoples. Never was this connection more evident than on July 14, when French crowds cheered the Indian armed forces’ contingent marching on the Champs Elysées, and France celebrated India as the Guest of Honour of our National Day. Such moments show that in the grand tapestry of international relations, it is the individual threads of mutual understanding, friendship and collaboration that weave together the fabric of lasting partnerships.
By opening our academic institutions to Indian minds, we are laying the foundation for a lifelong friendship between the two nations.
That is why the Indo-French Roadmap 2047 adopted by President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasises the significance of people-to-people ties as one of the three pillars of our partnership. It includes several new announcements benefiting students and alumni.
President Macron has announced the ambitious goal of welcoming 30,000 Indian students to France by 2030. This decision is testament to our unshakable belief in the transformative influence of education. By opening our academic institutions to Indian minds, we are not only enriching our classrooms with diverse perspectives but also laying the foundation for cultural comprehension and a lifelong friendship between the two nations. Education transcends borders, serving as a bridge that enriches societies, and France believes that is the best investment we can make in the future of our strategic partnership.
The introduction of a five-year short-stay Schengen circulation visa for Indian alumni is a heartening gesture that acknowledges the enduring ties forged during the academic journeys. The memories, experiences and relationships developed during a semester or more in France are treasured and now this visa will also help nurture these. This special provision underscores France's commitment to fostering lasting connections and empowering Indian alumni to maintain robust associations with France, thus reinforcing the people-to-people fabric that binds our nations.
At present, almost 95 per cent of the Indian students studying in France opt for one of the 1,600-plus English-taught programmes offered in our higher education institutions. Our goal is to enable more Indian students to also engage in French-taught programmes so as to expand their range of opportunities. That is why we are creating ‘International Classes’. These specialised programmes imparting comprehensive training in the French language and various academic disciplines illustrate our commitment to facilitating a smooth transition for these students. Our aspiration is for all Indian students to feel at home in France, to thrive in their studies and to contribute significantly to the academic landscapes of both our nations.
As the Ambassador of France to India, opening up new opportunities for Indian students in France has been a top priority since my appointment. In my interactions with students, parents, alumni and university representatives, I have highlighted that France has always been an inclusive and diverse nation, eager to share its rich cultural heritage and exceptional educational opportunities. To the younger generations in India, I convey this message: France will always be your friend, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that your academic journey in our country is nothing short of extraordinary.
There are many compelling reasons to choose France. French institutions enjoy global recognition for their academic excellence and research, offering wide-ranging programmes spanning aerospace engineering to social sciences, catering to varied interests. Our education system is substantially subsidised by the government, resulting in competitive tuition fees and living costs. Moreover, France emphasises inclusivity, further enabled by the numerous scholarships extended to Indian students. Earning French qualifications ensures globally acknowledged degrees, enhancing employability and opening promising career paths, as evidenced by France’s second position in the Global University Employability Rankings published by the Times Higher Education.
The 2018 agreement on the mutual recognition of degrees between India and France further amplifies the value of French qualifications in India. Moreover, a two-year post-study work visa for holders of a French master’s degree and above empowers Indian students to gain valuable professional experience and explore diverse career prospects in France upon graduation. Not to mention the interest that a French graduate sparks among the 570 French companies operating in India, collectively employing over 4,00,000 individuals in the country. Studying in France offers Indian students a rewarding blend of academic rigour, cultural immersion and professional potential.
Since July 14, French teams have been working double time to implement the decisions by President Macron and Prime Minister Modi. In alignment with these commitments, I am delighted to announce the upcoming Choose France Tour 2023. This educational fair, organised by the French Government and Campus France, will offer a platform for Indian students and parents to engage with representatives from over 40 esteemed French higher education institutions. The tour will take place from October 8 to 15 and cover four major Indian cities — Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai — providing a unique occasion to explore a wide range of study options and establish first-hand connections with reputable institutions.
As we embark on this new chapter of our partnership, I am confident that the connections we cultivate today will shape a brighter future for both our nations. Let us jointly celebrate the voyage of knowledge, understanding and friendship that defines the France-India partnership.
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