Mobility: Young French at a Slow Pace

Article published on Jan. 12, 2009
Article published on Jan. 12, 2009
While the success of the Erasmus programme and its principle of university exchange is no longer to be demonstrated in Europe, French youth have ignored it in 2008. 4000 student grants meant to help French students have found no one!

“Out of the 27 000 grants offered, only 23 000 have been donated. Surprisingly, 4000 grants have found no recipient” underlined Valérie Pécresse, ministry for Research and Higher Education during a conference on Mobility and Higher Education last November in Nancy (France).

A Life Experience

It is not all that bad, however. 69 % of the French students are ready to travel according to a November 2008 IFOP poll for and based on 802 French aged 18 to 24. Two-third of the students polled wish to profit from an experience in the European Union, whether for educational or for professional purposes. “At 28, I have already worked in Belgium, Spain, Rumania and now in France where I was born.’ says T.L. on the site of the European Commission. It is also to be noted that the less mobile are usually those with few or no diploma (41 to 46 %).

A Financial and Administrative Brake

So what is it that impedes the polled youth to actually make the step? As it is often the case, it has to do with finances! They are 53% to declare that the financial weight of expatriation is the problem. Clearly, the amount of the Erasmus student grant, 400 Euros, is not really convincing. Another reason brought forward by 19 % of them, the language barrier, and also for 10 % of them, the administrative obstacles. This is confirmed by T.L.: “While working abroad is a precious experience, one has to admit that the governments do not do much to help: heavy administrative steps, taxes, delays… Unless sent abroad by an international company that will handle everything, one has to be quite courageous. No regrets, though!”

A Necessary Move

An expat experience is actually a real added value on a curriculum. This “is a necessary move in light of the globalization of exchanges and services” explains Pascal Godron, Head of International Relations at the Conference of the Higher Education Institutions (Conférence des Hautes Ecoles) and Director of the Institut Supérieur d’Agriculture in Lille to the site “Companies are increasingly international and a greater number of companies are multicultural. The younger must be prepared to work with peers from different cultures.” Let us hope that the attitude of French youth will soon change…

Sources :

A practical case :"Moving in Europe" - Les EuronautesThe European Comission internet siteErasmus fête ses 20 ans et marque le pas – Le FigaroEn France, 4000 bourses Erasmus ne prennent pas preneurs – AFP news agencyErasmus séduit moins les étudiants français – Le Figaro Mobilité européenne des étudiants : encore un effort ! – L’Etudiant

Picture : Rouge rouge/FlickR

Translation : Frédérique Destribats