Breaking down the €5-B contribution of international students to the French economy

Key takeaways:

  • International students spend an average of €867 per month, with rent accounting for 48 percent of this total budget and 21 percent for day-to-day expenses such as clothing and food.
  • A total of €206.6M was budgeted for housing assistance for international students, while €247.2M was allocated for social security and €53M was committed to scholarship programs by the French government.
  • International students shared a net contribution of €1.35 billion after taking into account all of the expenditures and comparing them to the revenues.

Following a stagnant year in 2020–2021, when the pandemic was at its height, the number of international students registered in France increased by 8%, reaching over 400,000 for the first time in over 15 years.


The rising number of overseas students applying to and enrolling in French universities is an obvious indication of the sector’s recovery. In addition, a large-scale survey, conducted by Campus France, confirmed its enormous impact on the French economy.


International students’ contribution to the French economy


According to the 2022 report released by Campus France, more than 300,000 international students are presently enrolled in French educational institutions, and it is estimated that they contribute up to €5 billion to the French economy when revenue from all sectors is combined.


Where exactly did it come from? When its origins are traced, the key source where it comes from is the primary expenditures of international students. The monthly costs for international students average to be €867; of this amount, 48% is spent on lodging and home rentals, and 21% is budgeted for daily living expenses such as food and clothing allowances.


In addition, the CVEC tax or the Student and Campus Life Contribution amounts to €92, bringing the total tuition fees for international students to an average of €2,822 every academic year.


International students make other kinds of significant contributions to the economy of France in a variety of industries. The results of the study showed that 38 percent of those asked had received visits from members of their family and friends that lasted an average of 23 days. 


Aside from the cost of getting around daily, international students and their families spend an average of €1,692 on the travel costs associated with getting to France through rail, air, and road.


The study also found out that one out of four respondents spent an extra €1,632 on French classes before or during their time in France with the majority of those students (58%) attending sessions at French institutions.


Meanwhile, 20 percent of participants reported holding multiple jobs while in France throughout the study period, while 28 percent held only one. That comes up to an average of €13,300 and €7,800 annual employer social security contributions respectively.  


Furthermore, the cost of filing a comprehensive “Etudes en France” application, which includes obtaining visas and residence permits, amounts to a total annual contribution of a whooping €34.8 million. 


Public spending for international students


In terms of its direct influence on the French economy, international students provide a net of €1.35 billion after deducting all expenditures from the revenues.


Each year, the French government administers several grants and subsidies for the welfare of overseas students.


According to the Campus France study, the proportion of domestic higher education spending related to international students is €3.1 billion yearly.


Additionally, the report revealed that housing subsidies for international students cost €206.6 million, social security spending reached €247.2 million, and scholarship programs received €53 million.


The French government spent another €86.9 million on public services for international students and cultural diplomacy and influence.




The Campus France study is undeniably a clear indication that international students are returning to France. With such a favorable effect, it’s apparent that France’s international students are among the country’s best advocates, promoting France to their friends and family back home as a great place to work, study, or settle down. 


Moreover, the recovery is expected to have more dynamic consequences on France’s reputation in terms of jobs, exports of goods, and international tourism in the long run. (SUNEETHA QURESHI)

MSM President

Suneetha has worked for 15 years in the international education sector and 25 years overall for her work for other industries. As president of MSM, she fortifies its business development outreach globally, particularly in the face of MSM’s foray into edtech-based recruitment via MSM Unify. She preserves the premium, value-adding services provided to each MSM partner institute, including dedicated teams on the ground, agent management, lead generation and inquiry management, application prescreening, and student and parent support through pioneering pre-departure briefing sessions.

She has an impeccable track record of successfully launching the representative offices in Asia and Africa of many North American and European higher education institutions. Her key strengths include hiring, training, and developing teams as evidenced by the successful results of the dedicated in-country college and university client teams.


Suneetha also has taken the lead in developing several initiatives at MSM, including building robust standard operating procedures, the Rise ‘n Shine team engagement platform, and the organization’s data analytics and audit segments.




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