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Overview France


France:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

France:Historical Development

France:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

France:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

France:Political and Economic Situation

France:Organisation and Governance

France:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

France:Lifelong Learning Strategy

France:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

France:Organisation of Private Education

France:National Qualifications Framework

France:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

France:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

France:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

France:Funding in Education

France:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

France:Higher Education Funding

France:Adult Education and Training Funding

France:Early Childhood Education and Care

France:Organisation of Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

France:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

France:Assessment in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

France:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

France:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

France:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

France:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

France:Primary Education

France:Organisation of Primary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

France:Assessment in Primary Education

France:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

France:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

France:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

France:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

France:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

France:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

France:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

France:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

France:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

France:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

France:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

France:Higher Education

France:Types of Higher Education Institutions

France:First Cycle Programmes


France:Short-Cycle Higher Education

France:Second Cycle Programmes

France:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

France:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

France:Adult Education and Training

France:Distribution of Responsibilities

France:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

France:Main Providers

France:Main Types of Provision

France:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

France:Teachers and Education Staff

France:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

France:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

France:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

France:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Management and Other Education Staff

France:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

France:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

France:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

France:Management Staff for Higher Education

France:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

France:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

France:Quality Assurance

France:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

France:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

France:Educational Support and Guidance

France:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

France:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

France:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

France:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

France:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

France:Mobility and Internationalisation

France:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Mobility in Higher Education

France:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

France:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

France:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

France:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

France:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

France:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

France:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

France:National Reforms in School Education

France:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

France:National Reforms in Higher Education

France:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

France:European Perspective



Branches of Study

The "licence" (or bachelor degree) in the LMD system replaced the former university first cycle of studies leading to a "Diplôme d'Études Universitaires Générales" (DEUG - General University Studies Diploma) prepared in two years and followed by a "licence" (or bachelor degree) prepared in one year. University studies leading to the "licence" (LMD) are structured into six semesters (3 university years). They are organised into domains, in the form of standard initial and continuing training courses. These courses lead to the awarding of various “licence”  that confirm a validated level by obtaining 180 European credits. They allow the awarding, on the intermediate level, of various types of national diplomas validating a level corresponding to 120 European credits.

On 16 December 2013, the new national framework for Bachelor's degree was adopted.

Universities can also organise courses targeting new objectives, either in terms of the "licence" or an intermediate level.

One of the objectives was decreasing the Bachelor's degree failure rate. In 2007 the minister at the time, launched (for the 2008-2012 period) the "Plan pluriannuel pour la Réussite en Licence" (Multi-year plan for success in the Bachelor's degree). This plan engaged significant resources in compliance with three major objectives:

  • Making the "licence" a national qualification, both for professional integration and further studies;
  • Strongly reducing the failure rate in the first year of "licence;
  • Contributing to achieving the objective aimed at ensuring that 50% of an age category gains a higher education diploma.

This plan has already allowed universities to motivate their teaching staff to act against failure, ensure personalised follow-up of students and initiate innovative teaching methods. The appraisal of measures implemented is taken into account in the elaboration of five-year contracts between the State and institutions.

In France, there is also the "licence professionnelle" (vocational bachelor degree), obtained after 3 years of technical higher education. The vocational bachelor track is actually one year long as it completes a 2-year advanced course of study resulting in a DUT or BTS. For this reason, the "licence professionnelle" is classified in the "short higher education cycles".

Since the ESR law passed, in 2013, there have been:

  • 45 general Bachelor's degree titles instead of 1800 diplomas and 320 former titles;
  • 173 vocational Bachelor’s degree titles instead of 1844 previously.

Admission Requirements

To enrol at university, it is necessary to have the French baccalauréat, an equivalent qualification or dispensation: bearers of the "Diplôme d’Accès aux Études Universitaires" (DAEU - diploma opening to university education) or Capacité en Droit (legal capacity) can access higher education without the baccalauréat. Awarded by universities authorised for that purpose, the DAEU is aimed at applicants having interrupted their initial studies for at least two years. It is thus a major means of encouraging a return to studies for students who, for whatever reason, left education too early. The diploma is awarded after a year's training and after successfully passing an individual written and oral examination assessing knowledge and general culture and applicants' methods and know-how according to the requirements of continued higher education. The DEAU gives the same entitlements as those attached to the baccalauréat.

The "Capacité en droit" is a short course (2 years) dispensed by law faculties and preparing students without the baccalauréat for legal and administrative professions. In certain conditions, it opens access to long higher education. Access to the "Capacité en droit" training is available without conditions from the age of 17 and the diploma is considered to be the equivalent of the baccalauréat.

Instituts universitaires de technologie (IUT - technological university institutes) are subject to selection based on applications and interviews of baccalauréat graduates.

Moreover, access to different post-baccalauréat courses dispensed by an institution controlled by the Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research - whether a university, an institute or a public school - can also be authorised through validation of acquired experience. Holders of foreign qualifications or diplomas may apply for their validation. The president of the university or head of the institution decides on that validation after recommendation by the teaching commission.

For information about tuition fees please refer to chapter 3 "Funding of Education".


The order of 22 January 2014 structures studies into six semesters and organises it into domains in the form of standard initial and continuing training tracks.

The training combines theoretical, methodological, practical and applied teaching, to various degrees depending on the courses. Depending on training objectives, while ensuring that students acquire general culture, it can include elements of pre-professionalization, professionalization, individual or collective projects and one or several work placements. The law of 31 March 2006 on equal opportunities provided a compulsory work placement agreement, a limitation in the length of work placements outside educational courses to six months and compulsory remuneration for courses longer than two consecutive months.

Signed on 26 April 2006, the "Charter of student placements in companies" clarified the role of the higher education institution, the host company and the student required to put his or her knowledge into practice. The placement charter also provides three new guarantees aimed at securing work placement: statutory mentoring by a teacher and a member of the company; a standard agreement binding the three signatories: the teacher, the member of the company and the student; the introduction of assessment and monitoring methods.

Pursuant to the principles of the placement charter, each teaching institution, within the framework of its training policy, elaborates a placement policy that will be assessed as part of the contract binding the State and the institution. More recently, law no.2014-788 of 10 July 2014 has brought a further guarantee to the work placements framework and to the improvement of the "stagiaire” (trainee) status.

Curricula include teaching of university work methods and documentary resources. The courses are organised as compulsory teaching units (UE) chosen freely by the student and optional teaching units if applicable. Training includes appropriate modern languages and the use of IT tools.

The Certificat de Compétences en Langues de l’Enseignement Supérieur (CLES - Higher Education Language Competence Certificate), created by the order of 22 May 2000, is a certificate accredited by the Department of Education and endorsed by the Common European framework of reference for Languages (CECRL). It evaluates students' operational communication skills in several languages. The CLES is a complete certification system as it directly assesses 5 competences:

  • oral comprehension;
  • written comprehension;
  • written production;
  • oral production;
  • oral interaction.

It is currently available in 9 languages: English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Arabic, Polish, Modern Greek and Russian. The offer is progressively enriched by new languages.

The CLES is aimed at students in initial training: all students enrolled in any type of higher education institution, regardless of their year, as long as they are not specialists in the CLES certification language that they want to take. For example: an English student cannot take an English CLES (regardless the CLES level) but can take a Spanish CLES to certify his/her skills in this language which is not his/her specialist language. Finally, students can take any CLES level exam at any time in their university career.Moreover, the circular dated 30 April 2002 introduced the IT and internet certificate (C2i® level 1) to give students the skills needed to continue higher education and to assess their skills according to technological developments. All universities have now set up C2i® level 1. In view of the increasingly important role played by information and communication technology in society, the provisions of circular no. 2011-012 of 9th June 2011 specify the approved institutions, relevant target groups, preparatory training to be taken by students enrolled in an institution, certification conditions, follow-up and transitory provisions.

According to these provisions, the preparation for certification should, whenever possible, start in the first year of the "licence" (bachelor degree) cycle, in particular, in the course of the first semester and be integrated into institutions' LMD models.

The skills targeted by the C2i® level 1 are developed in the repository that covers 20 skills divided into 5 domains, i.e.:

  • Working in a changing digital environment;
  • Being responsible in the digital era;
  • Producing, using and broadcasting digital files;
  • Organising information search in the digital era;
  • Working in a network, communicating and cooperating

These skills are to be acquired through teaching activities involving one or several or cross-cutting through different disciplines. The aim is to pass the C2i® level 1 before the end of the "licence" (bachelor degree) cycle.

Teaching Methods

As for the curricula, each institution is responsible for its teaching organisation. For university teaching, there are nevertheless national regulations setting the general provisions for the organisation of teaching. Training is mainly dispensed in the form of lectures, tutorials and practical work which the university is required to balance according to the purposes of each course.

Progression of Students

In order to guarantee consistent teaching, universities define the rules of progress within the framework of the courses they organise, in particular the conditions whereby a student can take various teaching units (UEs) proposed. This organisation allows reorientation by setting up gateways.

Studies can start with a guidance semester. It allows students to discover university and the subject chosen, but also check the relevance of their choice and, if necessary, change direction early enough so as not to lose a year. The 18th of June 2013 circular letter on the improvement of the “Admission Post-Bac” website facilitates chosen and anticipated orientation, from upper secondary to higher education.

In addition, the organisation of the first year of "licence" should allow real guidance at the end of the first semester. The decision to continue to study or change direction after the end of the initial semester lies with the student. In the second semester the student may choose:

  • to continue with the "licence";
  • to continue with another "licence";
  • to ask to change course: STS, IUT, etc.

In universities, teaching is organised in the form of Teaching Units (UE) that are added up. UEs are definitively acquired and may be added up on condition of the student achieving the average grade. The acquisition of UEs and diplomas is organised according to the principles of building up and compensating for units within the framework of the European credits system. The acquisition of the EU automatically leads to acquisition of corresponding European credits (ECTS).


Law no. 2007-1199 of 10 August 2007 bearing on university freedoms and responsibilities gives higher education institutions a guidance and professional integration mission so that they may accompany their students towards the world of work. Universities now have the obligation to publish statistics on their success rates in examinations but above all on the professional integration of their graduates.

In order to allow universities to fulfil this mission, the law of 10 August 2007 stipulates that they should create professional integration bureaux. These bureaux will circulate work placement and job vacancies corresponding to the training courses offered by the university and will help students to find placements and their first job.

It is also indispensable to improve information of pupils and students on the type of training courses offered by higher education institutions and make them aware of job prospects open to them at the end of their higher education. This more precise knowledge of the realities of jobs will allow them to elaborate their career plans with full knowledge of available outlets.

That is why article 20 of the law of 10 August 2007 specifies that "All candidates are free to enrol in the institution of their choice, subject to having firstly applied for pre-enrolment allowing them to benefit from the information and guidance services of the said institution, which should be set up in partnership withlycées.

Pre-enrolment combines a procedure whereby the candidate expresses one or several wishes and an information and guidance service called "active guidance". This active guidance is an advice and support approach set up by universities and targeting future baccalauréat holders. Its aim is to fight against university drop-out by helping young people to make informed guidance choices and enrol in courses matching their profile. Active guidance has established strong momentum between universities and secondary schools, ensuring that young people receive real support in their career choices. Furthermore, throughout the first year of university, students can ask to be interviewed to envisage a change of direction.

An internet portal grouping together all higher education courses is also available to future students. This is called the "Admission Post-Bac" portal. It is one of the active guidance actions set up and allows future students to pre-enrol and receive guidance on training proposed by higher education institutions. In 2009 this portal was extended to all académies. It lists more than 12 000 courses (Licence (bachelor degree), STS, IUT, CPGE, schools) for 2 000 public institutions and private institutions under contract.

More recently, the 2013 ESR law bearing on higher education has attempted to reinforce the policy for Bachelor's degree work placements and student mobility. Article L611-2 of the education Code, modified by the Article 22 of the ESR law, provides that any course may be organised in the form of work-linked training. This measure comes into force in the context of existing schemes, through apprenticeship, professionalisation contracts and industrial training by research agreements (CIFRE).

Student Assessment

Diplomas are awarded by passing written and/or oral examinations on the content of each cycle’s teaching units (UE). All students are allowed two examination sessions, separated by two months, usually in June and September.

In non-university institutions, a continuous assessment system or annual examinations may assess students' progress from the first year of studies, until the end diploma is completed. Usually, training includes a practical placement which results in a report or technical project, taken into consideration in the assessment of the diploma.

In each Teaching Unit (UE), aptitudes and knowledge acquisition are evaluated either by "continuous assessment" or by an end-of-year examination. The most frequent assessment template is as follows:

  • Continuous assessment is standard. It is the most appropriate framework for in-depth and progressive acquisition of knowledge. It is organised in the form of tests taking into account a series of work; personal work, unlimited in time, timed tests, presentations, etc.
  • "Partial examinations" are taken in a closed room, under the teacher's responsibility.

On the whole semester, students’ evaluation can be done by cumulating both types of exams. The marks obtained in the tests are tallied by taking into account the weighting factor allocated to them. These assessment methods are specified for each subject.

Continuous assessment requires regular attendance of lectures and tutorials: partial absence or non-attendance in one of the continuous assessment tests leads to the score of 0/20 for the relevant exercise. After examination of the student's personal situation, the teacher can, if he/she desires, propose a replacement solution, if not the student may ask to benefit from a dispensation with a view to being able to take the final examination. Absence from a final examination also leads to the score of 0/20 for the relevant examination.

The two annual assessment examinations are organised as follows:

  • the examination conditions guarantee anonymity of written examinations,
  • material organisation and roll-out of examinations are covered by a circular available to students from each of the component's offices;
  • the conditions of assessment of aptitudes and knowledge are decided by the Commission de Formation et de la Vie Universitaire (CFVU – Training and Student life Committee).

Moreover, the validation of semesters (echelons in the European credit system) leads to the number of corresponding European credits (ECTS). An echelon (semester) can be acquired:

  • either by validating each of the UEs making it up (a mark above or equal to 10/20 in each UE);
  • or by compensation between these UEs (weighted average of the UEs above or equal to 10/20), the compensation being automatic only if the candidate has obtained a mark above or equal to 7/20 in the different UEs.

The echelon mark (semester) is equal to the weighted average of the marks of the Teaching Units (UEs) making it up. The respective weights of Teaching Units marks are proportional to the number of credits of these Teaching Units. The Teaching Units validated individually are definitively acquired. However, the student is entitled to refuse validation of an echelon acquired by compensation if he/she believes it possible to improve his/her results of Teaching Units not acquired (mark lower than 10) the following year.

Finally, "echelon" and "diploma" juries can be led to attribute "jury points". The diploma jury, which decides on the attribution of the diploma on the basis of decisions by the different echelon juries can, over and above scheduled validation patterns, reconsider, at the end of the course, the whole student's progress, even if some echelons have not been acquired.


The "licence" as well as intermediate diplomas are attributed by universities and, possibly, by other scientific, cultural and professional public institutions (EPCSCP) qualified for this purpose by the State Secretary for Higher Education.

Authorisation to attribute the diploma is granted or renewed by the State Secretary for Higher Education on the basis of an application filed by the institution, assessed by the scientific and technical mission composed of experts and examined by a comité d'expertise pédagogique des projets d'établissement (CEPPE - teaching expert committee on the institution's projects) or a national committee, after approval by the Conseil national de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche (CNESER - National Council for Higher Education and Research).

National diplomas that can be attributed during studies leading to the "licence" (bachelor degree) are as follows:

  • capacité en droit (law capacity);
  • diplôme d'études universitaires scientifiques et techniques (DEUST - university and technical studies diploma);
  • diplôme universitaire de technologie (DUT - technological university diploma);
  • diplôme d'études universitaires générales (DEUG – General university studies diploma) attributed within the framework of professional university institutes or on the request of bachelor degree's students.

ArticlesD613-17 to D613-25 of the French Code of education state that the national "licence" (bachelor), master and doctorat (PhD) diplomas can be issued within the framework of international partnerships. International partnerships are organised by an agreement signed between one or several French high education institutions and one or several foreign higher education institutions. The agreement in particular defines the training methods, constitution of teaching teams, testing of knowledge and aptitudes and certification methods.