The bilateral educational cooperation between India and France has grown over the last few years. There is a growing desire to further strengthen the bilateral educational collaboration within the governmental framework and outside amongst universities and academic institutes. This is reflected in the joint statement issued during the visit of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to France in April 2015, where both the leaders expressed mutual interest in boosting the number and quality of student exchanges and invited educational institutions of both the countries to further expand their cooperation in the field of engineering and applied sciences. During the visit, an MoU between School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi and National Architecture Institute in Paris was signed which envisages cooperation to undertake joint planning and geographical studies.
To promote bilateral cooperation in area of social sciences, there exists an MoU between the Maison de Science de l’Homme (MSH) on the French side and the ICSSR (Indian Council for Social Sciences Research) on the Indian side. The major activities under this MoU are: collaborative research projects, seminars, workshops, conferences, exchange of scholars, documents, data, publications etc.
The Law Research Institute of Sorbonne University, Paris signed an MoU in November 2016 in Paris with National School of Law, Bangalore for cooperation in the field of legal studies. Besides, several Indian and French higher educational institutions have signed cooperation agreements with each other to foster closer educational cooperation. There is also a vibrant student exchange programme in the field of management studies as almost all branches of the Indian Institute of Management have collaboration with institutions in France like ESCP, ESSEC and HEC where a large number of Indian students come for exchange programmes every year.
Besides higher education, both India and France also have a vibrant school exchange programmes in order to facilitate contact between French and Indian schools. In 2016, 10 French schools have visited India and an equal number of Indian schools have visited France. So far schools from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, NOIDA, Pune, Ajmer, Jaipur, Chennai, Bangalore, Gurgaon, Puducherry and other places have been able to establish contacts with French schools.
The number of Indian students studying in France in various fields has increased over the years. For the academic year 2015-2016, around 3000 Indian students came to France and considering the fact that most of the students come for a period of at least 2 years, approximately there are 5000 Indian students in France. The majority of students come to study in Grande Ecoles (elite institution) and the rest attend universities. There are approximately 40% students in Masters, 21% in bachelors and 39% in higher education including PhD.
As agreed during the visit of our Prime Minister to France in April 2015, the French government (w.e.f. September 2015) has started granting second ‘autorization provisoire de sejour’ of 12 months following the first period of 12 months already granted to Indian students of Masters level and upwards, offering them the possibility of finding suitable employment related to their area of studies. In this regard, the Government of India has already implemented VIE scheme for the French students offering special two years resident permit to join French companies operating in India.
In order to provide accommodation primarily for Indian students, the ‘Maison De L’Inde’ (India House) a student hostel in the Cite Internationale de Universite de Paris was established in 1967. The Governing Board is chaired by the Ambassador. The MDL with 110 rooms continues to serve as a home for Indian student /scholars/scientists seeking affordable accommodation in an intellectually stimulating campus in Paris. The Government of India had decided to undertake the extension of MDL. Under the new extension programme a building housing 72 additional rooms was constructed and started functioning from October 2013.