“I plan to finish my studies first, gain some experience in my field before deciding whether to stay in France or return to Algeria permanently,” says Yanis, 21. Arrived in France in 2020, this student who works part-time in a hotel belonging to one of his compatriots has just obtained his degree in computer science, but he intends to continue his studies in Master’s degree “Computer methods in management of ‘company “.
Study visas are more accessible
In addition to the quality of education in French universities, what made the young man decide to cross the Mediterranean was above all the ease of obtaining a study visa, much more accessible than the tourist visa. “You just have to present a good dossier to the embassy,” says Yanis, who admits to loving France, this “country where you live at 1,000 km an hour and which offers a lot of opportunities that you just need know how to grasp. The big negative, for the young man who comes from a country where extended family and friends matter a lot, is this “social indifference” to which he finds it difficult to adapt.
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Like Yanis, every year there are a large number of them jostling each other, file in hand, in front of the doors of the French Embassy in an attempt to obtain a study visa. The famous sesame for emigrating to Europe, France having long been the first destination for Algerian students. In 2021, despite a general context marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, they were a little more than 31,000 students enrolled in French universities, according to figures provided by Campus France. The geographical proximity, the historical links between the two countries, the presence of a strong Algerian community in France, the language and many other factors mean that Algerian students naturally choose France.
For many students, however, staying after graduation or returning home is a real dilemma. For Nouria, 23, a student in a Masters in Business Consulting at the Sorbonne Paris Nord University, France is a multicultural country that offers a lot of opportunities in all areas. “I dream of getting a job for a few years, before changing countries. The number of diverse cultural infrastructures, such as libraries, museums and cinemas, is a big advantage, although I find France to be too bureaucratic a country,” she says.
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A student at the University of Évry-Val d’Essonne since 2019, Ghanou is preparing a degree in Economics and Management with an Economics and Finance path. “France is a very good starting choice for an Algerian student, because the cost of studies is very low compared to other possible destinations, such as Canada. On the other hand, life is very expensive there, and it is essential to have a starting sum, or to be able to rely on family members who help you or accommodate you,” he explains. For him, the most important thing for students wishing to come to France is to fulfill the visa eligibility conditions and to have the 7,000 euros in their bank account as required in the file. “It’s a big sum for a lot of students. This year again, few applications have been accepted,” continues Ghanou. Among the many advantages that made him decide to come and study in France, in addition to the high level of studies and their low cost, Ghanou cites the financing of public services, the excellent French health system, as well as the many opportunities offered by the country. “I don’t necessarily dream of staying here, but I don’t rule out that option either. I intend to finish my studies first and why not return to the country to make it benefit from my experience, but it would still be wiser to have one foot on each side, ”said the 21-year-old student.
If practically all the students agree on the “seriousness of the studies and their high level”, the free access to a multitude of libraries and the possibility of doing several specialties are also among the advantages cited. The specialties available are so numerous that they can sometimes disconcert more than one. Like Laetycia, 22, who arrived in France two years ago. ” It is complicated. There are many fields, sub-fields and disciplines that are not even known to us. The specialty that I am doing does not exist in Algeria. So there aren’t a lot of outlets for me,” she worries. Despite everything, this graduate in psychology does not foresee of settle permanently in France. “I plan to work after my diploma to acquire the necessary professional experience, then return home. I don’t see myself living here at all. »
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Sonia works as a project manager in a pharmaceutical industry service provider in the city of Oraison and lives in Manosque, a small town located in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department. After a bachelor’s degree in chemistry followed by two years of a master’s degree in analytical chemistry, Sonia, who does not see herself returning to Algeria, has practically realized her life’s dream: to obtain a permanent contract and finally be able to help her brothers and sisters who have remained in Algeria and of which she is now the mainstay. Sonia landed her CDI after two months of “intense” research. “I don’t know if I was lucky or if it was because I was very persistent, because even during my breaks at the supermarket where I worked, I applied. I happened to have three interviews in one day”, she underlines.
Upon arrival in France, once the registration formalities have been completed, the most important thing is to find a job. “The offer varies significantly depending on the region, and there are platforms on the net, sites and applications that make it possible to find student jobs. But you have to know that Algerian students are not entitled to a work contract of more than 18 hours”, underlines Sonia. Arrived in September 2018, the young woman immediately began to give private lessons to high school and college students. “I did not yet have the residence permit which would allow me to work while being declared, but as soon as I was able to have it, I was hired as a cashier in a supermarket”, she continues.
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Studying in France, Sonia sees only advantages. Among other things, occupying positions of responsibility as soon as you finish your studies thanks to targeted and in-depth theoretical training, but also to a series of internships and practical work. The other advantage is the autonomy and independence that we have in France. “In Algeria, when you are a student, you cannot work in parallel. Very few do, and they are usually boys. Here, even very young, you can have a job, a home, even a car without having finished your studies. You don’t have to do a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate either, because there are a lot of university degrees that allow you to work after two years of study,” enthuses Sonia. Added to this is the aid provided by the French state to students. “I rented my 16 m2 studio for 450 euros and the Family Allowance Fund [CAF] reimburse me 300 euros,” she explains.
According to the results of a survey by the Center for Research in Applied Economics for Development (Cread) conducted between 2014 and 2018, only 22% of Algerian students in France planned to return to Algeria at the end of their studies.