Who can enrol, and how?
For prospective students from non-European Union countries,france1
For enrolment as a first-year undergraduate, you must apply through the French Embassy in your country.
To enrol directly in the third or higher levels of university, apply directly to the university. In all cases, visa requirements may apply.
For school-leavers with British (or other E.U.) nationality , enrolling in a French university is usually quite simple – just as long as you have a reasonable command of French. Once A level (or other high school graduation) results have been obtained (for A levels, you should probably have to have passes in at least three subjects), you then have to write to, or go to, the university and UFR (faculty) in which you wish to enrol, and request a "dossier d'inscription" (enrolment forms) and a "demande de validation des acquis" (to obtain French validation of your UK diplomas). While your application is being processed, contact the university's International office for information about accommodation, etc, and then come along at the start of term. Since, with a few exceptions (check them out!), there is no restriction on the number of students enrolling in first year at university, your application should automatically be accepted. (EU rules demand equal treatment for all EU nationals).

But befrore you bin that UCAS form, weigh up the pros and the cons of packing up your bags and heading across the Channel for three years or more on the other side.france

The Pros and the Cons
The Cons:
You've got to be fairly competent in French before you start; so unless you already are, you'll probably need to spend a gap year in France, getting competent in the French language. That, however, will give you a chance to get the know the country first, and decide if you really are ready for the big plunge. It will also give you the chance to check out on a few universities.

Depending on the course you follow, you may find that it does not really help you find a job in the UK afterwards. That depends very much on what you study.

You'll be living a long way from home. But with Ryanair and Easyjet offering returns to the UK from many French airports for less than £30, that may not be too much of a problem. But take care... students acquire a lot of luggage, and excess baggage can be expensive.

Less social life on campus. French universities are really mostly about studying, and far less about campus life than UK universities. There are lots of hours of classes each week, and the going can be tough. There is a high dropout (or chuckout) rate – though generally speaking if you are ready to work hard and put in the hours, or you're brilliant, you'll sail through.

The administrative hassle; in any country, administrative hassle is greater for foreigners than for locals, and France is no exception.

The Pros.
The cost! Tuition fees are about £200 per year in French universities (2010 prices), and student residences and restaurants are heavily subsidised. Public transport in French cities is half the price of the equivalent in British cities, or less. And if you want social life, of course the wine and the restaurants are cheap too.

The experience gained.  After 3 years in a French university, you'll be virtually bilingual – a skill that is very useful in a country like the UK where so few people (outside ethnic minority groups) speak a second language properly. Besides, if you want to get a job on internationally, experience of living in at least two countries for good lengths of time is always a bonus on any CV.

The chance to study in a UK university for one year of your course, without paying exorbitant UK tuition fees! Indeed, if you enrol in a course that has a Socrates or Erasmus link with a UK university, you can come over to the UK for a year (subject to availability of places) and study as a "French" student back home! What's more, you should  get a grant !  Further details below

Choosing a course

One thing not to choose is "English"….. or at least, not unless your aim is to become a secondary school teacher in France or in England. The UK graduate teacher training programme currently recruits in French universities, so if you want to become a qualified secondary school teacher in the UK, you can get into the system with a degree from a French university as easily as with one for a UK institution.
       If you have a bent for languages, and have A level in French and Spanish or French and another language, try "LEA" (Langues Etrangères Appliquées), which is a joint degree course run in about 50 universities, and is basically two languages and business. The business content tends to vary from university to university, but it can be quite substantial, and graduates are well placed for management jobs in the international departments of companies in the UK or France. Here are two or three university links: Aix-en-Provence, AvignonBesançon , Clermont Ferrand, Lyon II

Otherwise, if you are looking for an arts qualification, why not study for a degree in French (called "Lettres" in France) or (French) history. This is certainly a good preparation if you want to become a French teacher back in the UK; and even if you do not, your bilingualism will be a big asset if you complete your French degree with some short postgraduate professional qualification.

There's no point in studying law, unless you want to work in international law.

Economics courses tend to be far more theoretical than in the UK system.

Science courses are fine – but as with many courses in French universities, you may find yourself rather swamped in first year classes, which are often less specialised than in UK universities.

Medicine courses take at least five years, and though there are plenty of places in first year, the fight for places in second year and beyond can be serious!

Other subjects that can be studied equally well in the UK or in France include geography, sociology, linguistics, pharmacology, and various other less common disciplines.

Which University?

Points to consider:
a) Transport connections   b) Size of university and town  
Click here for list of French towns and cities ranked by population
Click here for an overview of Higher education in France
Almost all French university cities are easily accessible from the UK either by low-cost flight, or by Eurostar, with connections to the French TGV system at Lille. You can connect at Lille (same platform) to direct TGV's from Besançon in the east to Rennes in the west. But if you plan on driving back and forth to the UK, you'll be better off staying within 400 miles of Calais. that puts you within 8 hours drive of London. That puts the limit at an arc running through Strasbourg, Besançon, Dijon, Poitiers, Angers and Rennes.

Which university town?
In short, the answer for most candidates will be "anywhere but Paris".
While a degree from the Sorbonne carries weight, getting into the Sorbonne can be hard, as Paris universities operate a redistribution system for excess candidates. You may apply for the Sorbonne, then be told you have to study at "Nanterre", a sprawling campus in the northern suburbs, between high rise housing estates and railway tracks. Paris has more than a dozen universities, most of them in the suburbs; so if you really want to study in Paris, apply rather to another central university (such as Paris III, good for languages), or to one of the more attractive suburban universities such as Creteil. And be warned, accommodation in Paris is not cheap! Even for students!

Try provincial France...
As a foreign student, you will find it easier integrating into French student life and society by enrolling in a provincial university. There are big universities in big cities like Lyons, Lille or Toulouse. There are big universities in medium-big  cities like Bordeaux, Grenoble, Montpellier, Rennes, Nancy and Strasbourg. And there are smaller universities in a lot of lesser known, but attractive, regional centres such as Aix-en-Provence, Amiens, Angers, Avignon, Besançon, Caen, Clermont Ferrand, Dijon, Orleans, Le Mans, Limoges, Nice, Pau, Poitiers, etc. In many respects, it is in the smallest university towns that integration is easiest.

A word of warning however… Universities in the south of France get a lot of applications from foreign students, and thus tend to be less responsive, and less generous in the way they treat them. There are accommodation shortages for students in many towns, and in recent years they have affected, among others, Aix en Provence, Montpellier and Grenoble.

So if you're interested, get onto the universities' websites, read up about them, write (in French) to the department you are interested in, and even go over and visit.
Let's build tomorrow's Europe today. What are you waiting for?

A list of links to French university sites can be found at:

Differences between French and UK universities:

French universities have a different ethos to UK universities; they are run on much tighter budgets, and they are less concerned about "prestige" than UK universities. There are few French universities in the "Top 100" rankings of worldwide or European universities because, to put it bluntly, they do not have the research funding that so-called "top" universities have. Their mission is not principally to turn out small elites of research students, but to educate as many students as possible to a good first degree level, and increasingly to the level of a Masters degree; and on this score (which is not measured by any international league tables) they do relatively well.
     That is not to say that French universities do not have good research laboratories; they do. And given the relatively limited funding available to many French university research laboratories, they often produce surprisingly good results.

A year in a French university 
There is plenty of opportunity for students in other countries to undertake a year of their degree course in a French university, under the Erasmus or Socrates programme. But in order to benefit from this EU funded programme, and the grants that go with it, a student must be enrolled in a university department (or faculty) that has a Socrates link with a French university department. The Erasmus/Socrates programme operates on the basis of bilateral exchanges betwen university departments, and in most cases French universities will only enroll students who are sent as an officially recognised Socrates student by a partner institution.

It is often possible, however, for students in departments that do not have an exchange programme, to take up unused places available in other departments; but this is entirely discretionary, and each department and university has its own rules.

If you plan to study chemistry at university, but like the idea of a year in France, it is would be a good idea to find out first, and apply to a UK chemistry department that has an existing and operating exchange programme with a French university. Generally speaking, UK universities do not fill all the exchange places that they have negotiated with their French partner institutions.