French borders are reopened to safeguard students’ overseas plans

Speaking to Rajlakshmi Ghosh of Education Times, The Times of India, Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said, For a programme not exceeding three months, students will be issued a short-stay visa, whereas for those exceeding three months, students will receive a long-stay visa valid for maximum one year and renewable further in France should the course be longer.

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Emmanuel Lenain
Ambassador of France to India

New Delhi, 14 September 2020

France claims to be the first country to open its borders to Indian students and academicians with a view to help fulfil their aspirations. His Excellency the Ambassador of France, Emmanuel Lenain reflects the same optimism while talking to Education Times. “We are proud that France was the first country to reopen its borders to Indian students and academics. It is very important, even during this complicated period, to keep the door open for Indian students and researchers who wish to study, teach or carry out research in France. There are over 600000 learners of the French language in India and plenty of others who want to study in English in France, which is possible in most universities and other higher education institutions. France will put everything in place to help fulfil their higher education aspirations,” the Ambassador says.

In India, seven visa centres that have resumed operations in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi have been receiving applications from students applying for short or long-term student visas, researchers and professors invited by academic institutions or laboratories in France, as well as Talent passport holders.

Why a talent passport counts

“France has always welcomed talent and is determined not to let the pandemic be an impediment. The ‘Talent passport’ is a multiyear resident permit (4 years) for highly skilled foreigners who wish to live in France. It has been designed for researchers, artists, scientists and figures of international repute. There are many of such talent in India. The Talent passport holders with the opening of borders can now travel to France again,” the Ambassador says.

“Even the researchers, many of whom have found ways to work from home, are eager to go back to continue the experimental part of their research, which requires them to be in a properly-equipped facility. We have included the issuance of the Talent Passport visas along with the issuance of student visas to ensure their return to France as soon as possible,” the Ambassador clarifies.

Visas in the new normal

In terms of the visas, the validity period is the same as before. For a programme not exceeding three months, students will be issued a short-stay visa, whereas for those exceeding three months, students will receive a long-stay visa valid for maximum one year and renewable further in France should the course be longer.

“The Campus France network has been working to ensure prospective students have all the information on studying in France. This comes at a moment when French higher education institutions have shot up in global rankings. For instance, the University of Paris-Saclay has been placed 14th in the Shanghai Ranking of World Universities, third in Europe, and first in the world for Math,” says the Ambassador.

Hybrid model across universities

Each institution in France, according to him, has developed its own protocols and hybrid methods of teaching to ensure only a certain percentage of students are allowed on campus per day in accordance with social distancing norms. “Newly-admitted students who have not received their visa yet can follow classes online in the meantime.

Engineering, management rules

The pandemic notwithstanding, students and researchers have shown a strong interest in engineering and management. “Some engineering graduates choose to hone their managerial skills, while others seek to enhance their technical skills with the aim of furthering research in domains such as aeronautics, robotics, artificial intelligence and data science. A virtual PhD Tour will be organised from September 21-25 wherein potential researchers will have the opportunity to interact with select participating university representatives from France in different areas of research,” the Ambassador adds.

Indian students who stayed back

While a large percentage of students came back to India during the pandemic as they preferred to be with their family, others chose to stay back in France. "In such cases, the institutions have taken measures that include the setting up of counselling centres. We, at the Embassy of France in India, have also taken certain measures to extend financial support to scholarship holders during these difficult times,” the Ambassador informs.

Scholarship details

France has doubled the budget for scholarships this year, crossing Rs 10 crore in benefits for students and researchers. "Given the pandemic, specific transition scholarships of 4 months have been set up, which enable students to start their chosen courses from home, and as soon as possible, join their host institutions in France. French companies such as Legrand, Dassault Aviation and Thales, which are involved in the ‘Make in India’ policy, have offered new scholarships through the Franco-Indian Education Trust, supported by the Embassy. With the resumption of visa services, we are hopeful that most scholarships holders will be able to travel to France without having to miss their classes this month,” the Ambassador adds.

The interview was published in Education Times (The Times of India) on 14th September 2020.

Last modified on 15/09/2020

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