France: The Larger Island of Knowledge and Education

Over 5,50,000 Learners of French in India


Institut français India (IFI) is a section of the Embassy of France responsible for connecting and implementing Indo-French exchanges in various fields. The IFI is connected to various sections of the French Embassy including the Economics Section, Business France, the Press Section, and the Consulate. In India, IFI heads the network encompassing the Alliance Française (AF), which represents local Indian organizations that help disseminate French culture, promote budding Indo-French cultural exchanges and teach French across the Indian Territory. It is aknown fact that here in India, there are already over 550,000 learners of French which is a good number comparing to any other foreign language in India. To know more about IFI role Senior Journalist Sitaram Mewati had candid conversation with Bertrand de Hartingh – Counsellor for Cooperation and Cultural Action, Country Director Embassy of France in India, New Delhi.

What is the role of Institut français India?
Institut français India (IFI) is a platform that enables partnerships – from academic partnerships between higher institutes of learning, enabling student mobility, promoting French language, to scientific partnerships in research and innovation, promoting capacity-building and interactions with civil society, vocational studies, as well as artistic and cultural partnerships through an exchange of ideas and talents in arts, books, film, fashion, design and more. IFI highlights France’s position as a leading figure in innovation, a center of creativity, and a hub of partnerships.

How does the IFI connect to other French organisations?
IFI promotes partnerships between France and India, but it also strengthens these partnerships by connecting private companies as well as public institutions, acting as a matchmaker in promoting the exchange of expertise between France and India.
France also has two research centers in India – in Pondicherry and Delhi, and several schools. IFI is also responsible for Campus France, a service geared towards students, which has offices in 10 Indian cities: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Pune, and 3 more slated to open in the coming months.

What services does the French network provide to students?
IFI welcomes Indian students to study in France, be it at English- or French-medium institutions. There are many advantages to studying in French. However, those that study in the French medium are granted a tuition fee waiver. IFI also encourages and helps students in India learn French, which after all is the 2nd language of international rganisations, and the third business language. IFI extends its academic services to both future students and past alumni through Campus France. Any Indian student can schedule a meeting with a Campus France officer, who is their one-stop-shop on all information and advice on studies in France. Campus France officers even contact French institutions on behalf of students for application purposes, unless the student are already in touch with the same. Campus France organizes direct meetings between French institutions and Indian students in various Indian cities on a biannual basis.

How can one get French language certification? How does one ensure it is recognized worldwide?
IFI’s mission is also to make French available for everyone. Anyone of any age learning the French language in India is eligible to sit for and obtain the DELF-DALF diplomas delivered by the French Ministry of Education. Both diplomas are world-recognized and designed for individuals, who prefers official certification of their French second language proficiency level. The certificates are awarded by the French Ministry of Education and give access to higher studies in French in France and ease the stay in France of foreign students following a program in English.

What role does Alliance Française plays?
It is worth mentioning here that In India, there are already over 550,000 learners of French which is a good number comparing to any other foreign language in India. Alliance Française provides French language lessons and certification at various levels. AF also provides customized French lessons, like crash courses for students going to France and for families wanting to visit them. As you may know, France is the first tourist destination in the world, and in fact, a highly popular destination for students. In order respond to the increasing demand of growing numbers of students, the IFI is coordinating certifications along with the network of the Alliances Françaises in India

What is the advantage of studying in France?
France provides top-notch quality education which is the best in the world as can be seen from the Nobel Laureates coming from the country. Paris has been voted the Best Student City by international students for four consecutive years, and France is a top destination for students in various fields with its reputed centuries’ old colleges and universities. It ranks 3rd in innovation in the world, and is the most innovative country in Europe (including UK). France is also a leading forerunner in technology. Besides academic excellence the country also provides an excellent culture for students. It is no wonder then that around 4,000 Indian students opted for higher education in France last year, a jump of 50% over the past five years, and a number that is increasing every year.

Is there any Fee waiver for Indian students?
In Europe, students can pay up to EUR 14,000 every year on education. If Indian students are studying in French-medium in France, this tuition fee is waived. In short, for a nominal price, students going to France can expect to receive the highest quality of education and a marvelous experience of life and culture.

Is studying in France provide better job opportunities?
Yes. Studying in France makes students highly employable. International students who have obtained a degree in France in higher studies can work in France for up to two years after their study. France itself provides many opportunities for companies to blossom, and Paris is a budding haven for start-up companies from around the world. Or they may bring this experience of innovation home, and start their own companies in India. In India, too, students can join the France Alumni network – another IFI service provided through Campus France – connecting them to thousands of former students in France.

How many French companies are currently operational in India?
There are over 450 French companies that are present in India with a total investment stock of almost 18 billion dollars. They alone account for the generation of 240,000 skilled jobs spread all over India.

Which are leading French companies in India, do they provide professional opportunities for Indians?
There are globally top companies are operational in India and Professional opportunities can easily be found. The leading French investors like Sodexo and Capgemini employ around 30,000 employees each. In fact, Capgemini has more staff in India, than it has in France. Other major investors include Schneider Electric, BNP Paribas, Sanofi, Alcatel Lucent, Steria, Renault Nissan, Alstom, Atos, Lafarge, Saint Gobain, Accor, Essilor, Technic, Michelin, Safran, L’Oreal, Dassault, Veolia, Air Liquide among many others.

Any French scholarships are available for Indian students?
Eevery year French government offers many scholarships. This year French Embassy offered nearly 400 scholarships under its flagship “Charpak” programme for students pursuing Master’s degrees, exchange semesters and research internships. French companies, such as MBDA, also offer scholarships to Indian students, including tuition fee waivers and a monthly stipend.

What is Charpak scholarship?
The Charpak scholarship is named after Georges Charpak (1924 – 2010), a French physicist awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1992. It is run by the Embassy of France in India, The Charpak scholarship program offers three types of funding for Bachelor’s and Master’s level. These three internship are:

Research Internship Program
This program is designed for all students of economics, engineering and science background at the Bachelor’s or Master’s levels who plan to undertake an internship at a French laboratory during their academic break (May to July).

Exchange Program (Jan-Jun) / Exchange Program (Sept-Dec)
This program is designed for exchange students for a period of one to four months (duration of an academic semester) at the Bachelor’s or Master’s degree level.

Master’s Program
This program is designed for one to two years of studies in France at the Master’s degree level. The “Eiffel excellence grants” enable awardees to earn a master’s degree or, for doctoral candidates enrolled in dual-degree programs, to travelfor up to 10 months. Candidates are nominated by French institutions. Self-nominations are not accepted. Applications are selected on the basis of academic excellence, as well as the consistency and quality of the statement of purpose. Knowledge of French is an asset. For master’s scholarship applicants, a tie-up between the current Indian institution and the future French institution will also be an asset. All scholarships are merit based.

What is your message to Indian students?
Come to France! You are most welcome! And as with your peers before you, you will love it!