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English courses get green light

MPs back changes that allow foreign languages into higher education despite fears French will be weakened

UNIVERSITY courses in English have been given the green light by MPs – but with strict conditions to guard against abuses and to ensure the courses “are justified by teaching needs".

Although intended to attract foreign students to French universities, MPs had attacked the move as a weakening of the French language and an encroachment of English into higher education.

However, Higher Education Minister Geneviève Fioraso accused them of “hypocrisy” as many had trained at the Grandes Ecoles where English had been in constant use for nearly two decades.

The move will allow some courses to be taught in languages other than French and she said the changes were vital to get students from emerging countries such as Korea, India and China to choose to study in France.

She said at present 12% of students in France were foreign and she wanted to increase this to 15%, partly in the hope that successful students would remain and set up businesses here.

Some supporters said that restricting teaching to French was a reason for France’s decline in competitivity – but critic Jacques Myard said they would not “penetrate Chinese, Arab or Latin-American markets with this mumbo-jumbo”.
Photo: Ashok Prabhakaran

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