French-style Bachelor’s degrees: a success story [fr]
Over the last seven years, the number of these undergraduate programmes has dramatically increased in disciplines as varied as business, the luxury goods industry, architecture, and oceanography.
Derived from the Bachelor’s degrees offered by Anglo-Saxon universities – including Australian universities – only a handful of business schools, such as the Toulouse Business School, offered French-style Bachelor’s degrees at the end of the 1980s. These degrees are now an established alternative to conventional taught programmes at the “grandes écoles”.
These three-year long undergraduate courses can be completed at hundreds of private schools with international accreditation (Equis, AACSB). The objective is to facilitate rapid entry onto national and international job markets. To this end, courses are taught in English and delivered by experts and professionals; professional internships are undertaken in France and overseas; extended exchange programmes are offered with partner institutions of high-standing, including with Group of Eight universities:
the Australian National University and the University of Queensland (French partner: ESSCA Business School Angers);
Monash University (French partner: European Business School EM-Lyon);
the University of Adelaide (French partner: Audencia Nantes);
the University of New South Wales (French partner: Neoma Business School Reims and Rouen);
the University of Sydney (French partner: Grenoble Ecole de Management);
and the University of Western Australia (French partner: ESC Bourgogne).
To high-school graduates in the context of a structural labour market crisis, French-style Bachelor’s degrees are all the more attractive as they enable entry into a “grande école” without the need to first complete two (or more) precursory years at a “classe préparatoire”, and offer near-certainty of employment within 6 months of degree-completion. As for employers, they find French-style Bachelor graduates to be commendable employees: efficient and adaptable to globalisation, with lower wages than Master’s graduates, and benefiting from technical knowledge in specialised fields as varied as business, the luxury goods industry, tourism, aeronautical engineering, architecture, and sports management, oceanography, or even energy supply and environmental coordination.
Only six French-style Bachelor’s degrees are currently officially recognised by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research. However, more than 75 French-style Bachelor’s degrees benefit from financial support and accreditation from the Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Furthermore, several “grandes écoles” – including Sciences Po – and Institutes of Political Studies (Grenoble and Rennes) have created university campuses offering Bachelor’s degrees with highly selective entrance criteria.
For such private institutions, French-style Bachelor’s degrees are a strategic choice. They offer the opportunity to improve their brand on the international stage, and they enable them to source new financial avenues thanks to the tremendous pool of students from middle to high-income households in emerging countries. French-style Bachelor’s degrees also benefit from a competitive advantage: well-established French management schools are extremely competitive at the international level, with tuition fees between €12,000 and €30,000, whereas tuition fees for most Bachelors in management at Australian universities go upwards from $75,000.