Cover of higher education & research in France, facts and figures

📄 Source:MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES.

 Coverage:Metropolitan France + overseas departments (DOM).

The data published covers all enrolments in higher education (for more details, see Repères et références statistiques, édition 2016, 6.1 et 6.2).

The variation in numbers of students between the two academic years may be due to changes in the population of studying age ("demographic factor") or a fluctuation in the appeal of higher education ("educational factor").

To gain a better understanding of the effect of each of these factors, we use enrolment rates and the age distribution of the population.

Enrolment rates by age are the ratio of the number of young people of a given age in higher education, against the estimated number of the population of the same age. By applying the rates recorded for the 2010-11 academic year to the 2015 population, we get a theoretical number of students for the 2015-16 academic year.

The "educational factor" is the difference between this number and the number of students who actually enrolled in 2015. A positive "educational factor" demonstrates the increase in the proportion of young people in a generation who enter higher education. This increase can be due to two, possibly combined phenomena: more young people obtain the Baccalaureate, or a growing proportion of new Baccalaureate holders enter higher education.

The "demographic factor" is the difference between the development in the number of students between the 2010-11 and 2015-16 academic years and this "educational factor".

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12 students in higher education

There were 2,551,100 enrolments in higher education at the start of the 2015-2016 academic year. This was an increase of 3.2% in student enrolments over the previous year. The number of young people embarking on higher studies has risen hugely in five years.

In 2015-16, 2,551,000 students enrolled in higher education in mainland France and the overseas departments (DOM) (chart 12.01). The number of students enrolled in higher education in France increased for the seventh consecutive year (+3.2%, i.e. 79,900 more enrolments than in 2014). One factor for this upwards trend was the gradual implementation of the mandatory dual enrolment of students preparing for admission to the grandes écoles (CPGE) in a public scientific, cultural or professional establishment (EPSCP). But once the effect of these dual enrolments was neutralised, the overall increase was still very high, reaching 2.5% (+60,600 students). In five years, 231,000 additional students have entered higher education (+211,000 excluding dual enrolments in CPGE). Growth was six times less during the five previous years with 36,000 additional students between 2005 and 2010 (chart 12.01). In addition, changes in the size of generations should have led to a 100,000 drop in the number of young people enrolled in 2015-16 compared with 2010-11 (table 12.02). The increase in numbers cannot therefore be explained by a 'demographic effect' but a massive 'educational effect' since 2010, although it was much more modest in the five previous years (see methodology).

In 2015-16, 1,593,200 students enrolled in universities in mainland France and overseas departments, representing 62% of all enrolments in higher education (chart 12.03). Numbers at university have increased by 10.9% in five years (9.6% excluding dual CPGE enrolments) compared with 1.1% in the previous five-year period (chart 12.04). Trends vary considerably depending on the field of education. In Law and even more in Healthcare, numbers increased significantly between 2005 and 2010, and the rise continued at a more modest pace over the next five years. Growth in Economics and Economic and Social Administration was 4.3% between 2005 and 2010 and virtually non-existent in the last five years (+ 0.7% excluding dual CPGE enrolments). Lastly, there was a notable rise in number of university enrolments for the 'Arts, Humanities, Languages and Human and Social Sciences' and 'Sciences and STAPS' groups, where numbers had dropped between 2005 and 2010 and increased considerably between 2010 and 2015.

One student in six, i.e. 449,900 students, attended a private education institution (chapter 09). Public education has increased at a faster pace than private education in the last five years, whereas the opposite had been true since 2000.

Although in total 55.1% of students were women in 2015-16, their proportion varies hugely according to the courses. Women accounted for half the enrolments in STS, 39.5% in IUT and 42.1% in CPGE (chart 12.05). Conversely, 84.5% of students enrolled in paramedical and social courses were women. At university, they account for 69.7% in Languages, Arts and Humanities. In the last ten years, the proportion of women enrolled in scientific courses at university has increased slightly, but they are still a minority.

 Coverage:Metropolitan France + overseas departments (DOM).

How to cite this paper :

ALGAVA Elisabeth. Students in higher education. In: Higher education & research in France, facts and figures - 49 indicators [online]. KABLA-LANGLOIS Isabelle (dir.). Paris: Ministère de l'Éducation nationale, de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, 2017. 10th ed. Chapter 12 [Accessed 07/23/2019]. ISBN 978-2-11-152033-2. https://publication.enseignementsup-recherche.gouv.fr/eesr/10EN/EESR10EN_ES_12-students_in_higher_education-ILL_03.php

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The data published covers all enrolments in higher education (for more details, see Repères et références statistiques, édition 2016, 6.1 et 6.2).

The variation in numbers of students between the two academic years may be due to changes in the population of studying age ("demographic factor") or a fluctuation in the appeal of higher education ("educational factor").

To gain a better understanding of the effect of each of these factors, we use enrolment rates and the age distribution of the population.

Enrolment rates by age are the ratio of the number of young people of a given age in higher education, against the estimated number of the population of the same age. By applying the rates recorded for the 2010-11 academic year to the 2015 population, we get a theoretical number of students for the 2015-16 academic year.

The "educational factor" is the difference between this number and the number of students who actually enrolled in 2015. A positive "educational factor" demonstrates the increase in the proportion of young people in a generation who enter higher education. This increase can be due to two, possibly combined phenomena: more young people obtain the Baccalaureate, or a growing proportion of new Baccalaureate holders enter higher education.

The "demographic factor" is the difference between the development in the number of students between the 2010-11 and 2015-16 academic years and this "educational factor".

 

Key figures


Student numbers in Arts, Humanities
507,000
 students
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Coverage: in universities
Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Student numbers in Law
210,000
 students
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Coverage: in universities
Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Student numbers in Economics, Economic and Social Administration (AES)
240,000
 students
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Coverage: in universities
Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Share of students in Law
13.2%
 
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
  See more key figures  
Share of students in Economics, Economic and Social Administration (AES)
15.0%
 
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Share of students in Arts, Humanities
31.8%
 
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Share of students in Sciences, Physical education and sports science and techniques (STAPS)
25.9%
 
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Share of students in Healthcare
14.0%
 
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
  See more key figures  
Student numbers in Healthcare
224,000
 students
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Coverage: in universities
Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Student numbers in Technological university institutes (IUT)
116,200
 students
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Coverage: in universities
Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Student numbers in Sciences, Physical education and sports science and techniques (STAPS)
413,000
 students
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Coverage: in universities
Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Share of women in all higher education courses
55.1%
 
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
  See more key figures  
Share of women in Advanced technician's sections (STS) and equivalent
49.9%
 
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Share of women in university courses (general and healthcare study tracks)
58.2%
 
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Share of women in the Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy university study tracks
63.8%
 
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Share of women in the Arts, Humanities university study tracks
69.7%
 
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
  See more key figures  
Share of women in paramedical and social care courses
84.5%
 
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Share of women in business, management and accounting schools
49.6%
 
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES
Share of women in the Law, Economics, Economic and Social Administration (AES) university study tracks
59.3%
 
Metropolitan France + overseas departments
 
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Extract from the chapter "12. students in higher education".

Source: MENESR-DGESIP/DGRI-SIES

12.01 Changes in the number of students in higher education (in thousands, base 100 in 1990)

  
All higher education
University
Other courses
 
 
 Coverage: Metropolitan France + overseas departments (DOM).

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12.02 Changes in the number of students in higher education (in thousands)

 
2005-06 2010-11 2015-16
Number of students enrolled 1 2,283.3 2,319.6 2,551.1
of which
University 1,309.1 1,320.6 1,477.0
of which DUT preparation 112.6 116.5 116.2
STS 230.4 242.7 256.1
CPGE 74.8 79.9 85.9
Variation 2005-06/
2000-01
Variation 2010-11/
2005-06
Variation 2015-16/
2010-11
Variation over 5 years
Number of students enrolled +123.0 +36.4 +231.5 (+210.9 2)
Demographic factor in 5 years +46.2 -12.2 -98.5
Educational factor in 5 years +76.8 +48.6 +330.0 (+309.4 2)
 

The total number of students in higher education increased by 231,500 at the start of the 2014-15 academic year, compared to the start of the 2010-11 academic year. Without the effect of other factors, the changes in the size of generations (demographic factor) would have resulted in 98,500 fewer students enrolling.
1 Scopes defined in RERS points 6.1 and 6.2.
2 Hors inscriptions à l'université des étudiants en classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles.

 Coverage: Metropolitan France + overseas departments (DOM).

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12.03 Breakdown of students at French universities in 2015-16, by programme and subject area (in thousands)

Bachelor's degree 1
Master's degree
phD
All
  
Law
Economics, Economic and Social administration
Arts, Humanities
Sciences
STAPS
Healthcare
 
 

1 116,205 students enrolled in DUT preparation.

 Coverage: Metropolitan France + overseas departments (DOM).

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12.04 Évolution des effectifs des universités françaises par discipline 1 entre 2005 et 2010, puis entre 2010 et 2015 (en %)

Droit
 
Arts, lettres, langues, SHS
Santé
Droit
Arts, lettres, langues, SHS
Santé
 
 
Économie, AES
Sciences, STAPS
Ensemble
Économie, AES
Sciences, STAPS
 
Ensemble
2005-2010 2
2010-2015
  
Variation (en %)
Variation hors doubles inscription en CPGE (en %)
 
 

1 Y compris les étudiants des DUT ou des formations d'ingénieurs universitaires. Ces étudiants sont répartis dans les groupes de disciplines selon leur spécialité.
2 Les variation hors doubles inscription en CPGE (en %) ne sont pas représentées pour la période 2005-2010. Les valeurs à « 0,0 % » ne sont que des artefacts permettant la création du graphique.

 Coverage: Metropolitan France + overseas departments (DOM).

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12.05 Part des femmes dans les principales formations d'enseignement supérieur (en %)

Formations paramédicales et sociales 1
Universités - Lettres, langues, sciences humaines
Universités - Médecine, odontologie, pharmacie
Universités - Droit, économie, AES
Ensemble universités (hors DUT)
Ensemble étudiants
STS et assimilés
Écoles de commerce, gestion et comptabilité
CPGE
Préparation DUT
Universités - Sciences, STAPS
Formations d'ingénieurs 2
  
2005-06
2015-16
 
 

1 2014-15 (dernières données disponibles) à la place de 2015-16.
2 y compris les formations d'ingénieurs dépendant des universités, des INP, des universités de technologie et les formations d'ingénieurs en partenariat.

 Coverage: Metropolitan France + overseas departments (DOM).

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Related statistical publications

 Note flash - Enseignement supérieur & Recherche 04 - Les effectifs universitaires en 2016-2017 - Aurélie Delaporte, Diane Marlat - May 2017
En 2016-2017, le nombre d’étudiants inscrits à l’université est de 1 623 500 (+1,9 % par rapport à 2015-2016). Hors doubles inscriptions en C.P.G.E. l’augmentation est ramenée à +1,1 % (+16600 inscriptions). Les effectifs augmentent moins fortement que l’année dernière et en cursus licence (+2,8 %) et en cursus master (+0,8 %) et poursuivent leur baisse en cursus doctorat (-2,3 %).
 Note d'information SIES 16.11 - Les étudiants inscrits dans les universités françaises en 2015-2016 - Aurélie Delaporte, Diane Marlat - December 2016
En 2015-2016, 1 593 200 étudiants sont inscrits dans les universités de France métropolitaine et des DOM (y compris l’université de Lorraine). Ils étaient 1 531 300 en 2014-2015. Les effectifs inscrits augmentent de 4,0 %, hausse partiellement imputable à la montée en charge des inscriptions parallèles des étudiants de CPGE. L’accroissement est ramené à + 2,8 % hors cet effet. En particulier, les effectifs sont en hausse en cursus licence (+ 4,9 %, et + 2,9 % hors doubles inscriptions) et en cursus master (+ 3,2 %), mais diminuent en cursus doctorat (- 1,6 %). Les bacheliers généraux sont plus nombreux que l’an passé dans les disciplines générales (+ 6,9 % hors doubles inscriptions en CPGE), le nombre de nouveaux bacheliers technologiques diminue en IUT (- 2,0 %) et les bacheliers professionnels se dirigent nettement moins vers l’université. La part des étudiants étrangers à l’université est de 14,1 %. Elle baisse légèrement par rapport à 2014-2015 (- 0,2 point), principalement en cursus doctorat (- 0,4 point).
 Note d'information SIES 16.10 - Les effectifs d'étudiants dans le supérieur en 2015-2016 en forte progression, notamment à l'université - Elisabeth Algava, Agnès Lièvre - December 2016
Les inscriptions d’étudiants dans l’enseignement supérieur en France métropolitaine et dans les départements d’outre-mer n’ont jamais été aussi nombreuses : 2 551 100 à la rentrée 2015. Leur nombre a particulièrement progressé entre les rentrées 2014 et 2015 (+ 3,2 %, soit 79 900 inscriptions de plus). La hausse est en partie liée à un accroissement des doubles inscriptions des étudiants en classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles à l’université : hors ces doubles inscriptions, l’augmentation globale est de 2,5 % sur un an (+ 61 000 inscriptions). L’augmentation des effectifs est élevée pour les formations d’ingénieur, les écoles de commerce, gestion et comptabilité ainsi que dans les classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles. Les formations courtes (en instituts universitaires de technologie et sections de techniciens supérieurs) enregistrent des effectifs stables. A la rentrée 2015, les inscriptions augmentent dans toutes les académies sauf la Corse. L’enseignement privé représente un peu plus d’un étudiant sur six.
 Note flash - Enseignement supérieur & Recherche 21 - Les étudiants en sections de technicien supérieur en 2016-2017 - Mathias Denjean - December 2016
A la rentrée 2016, les effectifs en sections de technicien supérieur (S.T.S.) sont en légère hausse par rapport à l’an passé (+0,4 %) et dépassent désormais les 257 000 étudiants en formation initiale (hors apprentissage). Les établissements privés concentrent près d’un tiers des effectifs. Parmi les nouveaux entrants dans ces sections, les parts respectives des néo-bacheliers généraux, technologiques et professionnels sont quasi inchangées.
 Note flash - Enseignement supérieur & Recherche 22 - Les étudiants en classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles en 2016-2017 - Mathias Denjean - December 2016
À la rentrée 2016, les effectifs en classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles (CPGE) progressent légèrement (0,6%) pour atteindre 86 500 étudiants. Ils augmentent de 0,9% dans la filière scientifique, qui concentre près des deux tiers des effectifs mais où les femmes constituent moins d’un tiers des inscrits. Ils progressent aussi dans la filière économique (+0,8%) mais se replient dans la filière littéraire (-0,8%).
 Note flash - Enseignement supérieur & Recherche 16 - Inscription des nouveaux bacheliers entrant en première année à l'université en 2016-2017 - Aurélie Delaporte, Diane Marlat - November 2016
Les données présentées sont issues d’une enquête annuelle spécifique menée fin octobre auprès des universités, et qui porte sur les nouveaux inscrits en 1ère année de cursus licence, dite "enquête 20". La date d’observation est fixée au 20 octobre de chaque année universitaire. L’enquête est une enquête "flash" sur 3 jours. A cette date, les informations remontées par les universités sont encore provisoires et susceptibles d’évoluer. Les données définitives et globales pour l’année 2016-2017 seront issues de l’enquête "inscriptions" du système d’information sur le suivi de l’étudiant (SISE Universités) du 15 janvier 2017. Le champ couvert par cette première note sur "l’enquête 20" est constitué des 70 universités (France entière hors Nouvelle-Calédonie), de l’université de Lorraine, du CUFR de Mayotte et de l’Institut national universitaire d’Albi.
 Note d'information SIES 16.08 - Les effectifs étudiants dans les regroupements d'établissements en 2015-2016 - Ronan Vourc'h - November 2016
Les regroupements d’établissements ont été initiés par la loi de 2013 sur l’enseignement supérieur et la recherche. Aujourd’hui, près de 200 établissements sont concernés, que ce soit sous la forme d’une communauté d’universités et établissements (Comue) ou d’une association. Cette recomposition du paysage de l’enseignement supérieur concerne 1 690 000 étudiants à la rentrée 2015, soit plus des deux tiers de l’ensemble des étudiants. Les universités concentrent plus de 90 % des inscrits au sein des regroupements.

En dehors des universités, ce sont les écoles d’ingénieurs qui sont les plus impliquées dans ce processus (5 % des étudiants concernés dans plus de 60 écoles). La pluridisciplinarité est assurée au sein des regroupements situés en province. La situation est plus contrastée en région parisienne où les caractéristiques des établissements membres d’un regroupement induisent des orientations disciplinaires différenciées pour chacun d’entre eux. A cela s’ajoutent des différences dans le profil social des étudiants accueillis.
 Note d'information SIES 16.04 - Students on engineering courses - Agnès Lièvre - July 2016
In 2014-2015, around 141,000 students were preparing for a State-recognised engineering degree, accredited by the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research (MENESR).

Around 33,000 degrees were awarded in 2014, an increase of 22% in ten years.

The engineering degree is awarded following five years of study after the baccalauréat, the last three as part of an engineering cycle.

The trajectories are varied: half of entrants to the first year of an engineering cycle come from CPGE (classes preparing for admission to Grandes Ecoles) and 21% from an integrated preparatory cycle. Parallel access routes help to diversify the recruitment of entrants to an engineering cycle: 13% hold a DUT (university technology diploma) and 7% hold a Higher technical certificate (BTS) or Bachelor's degree.

Although representing nearly half of scientific baccalauréat holders, only 29% of engineering students are women. Some universities and engineering schools offer LMD Master's programmes (Bachelor's-Master's-PhD) in engineering which can lead to employment in the engineering sector. In 2014, 6,300 students on these Master's programmes obtained their qualification.
 Note flash - Enseignement supérieur & Recherche 06 - Number of university students in 2015-2016 - Aurélie Delaporte, Diane Marlat - May 2016
In 2015-2016, the number of students enrolled at university was 1,593,300 (+4.0% on 2014-15). Excluding dual enrolments in classes preparing for admission to Grandes Ecoles ('excluding CPGE'), the increase was +2.4% (+35,500 enrolments). Student numbers showed contrasting trends according to the subject area, similar to the previous year. In 2015-16, there was a continued strong dynamic towards Sciences (+4.3% excluding CPGE), and Arts, Humanities, Languages (SHS) (+3.7% excluding CPGE). By contrast, numbers changed little in Law and Economics-Management compared to the previous year.
 Note d'information SIES 16.02 - Economics, Management and Economic and Social Administration (AES) students at university in 2014-15 - Agnès Lièvre - April 2016
There are various trajectories open to students who wish to study economics or management. After obtaining the baccalauréat, or after two years of classes preparing for admission to Grandes Ecoles (CPGE), they can enrol at a university, University technology institute (IUT) or a business school.

Universities, which this study focuses on, offer courses in Management, Economics, Economic and Social Administration (AES) and eco-management multi-sciences.

This variety results in different course content and prospects. For these different courses, the main access route is still the Economic and Social Sciences baccalauréat.

Courses in AES, which is more generalist and multi-disciplinary, appeal to a great diversity of profiles, in particular technological and vocational baccalauréat holders, whereas the Economics route, which has a more theoretical content, attracts scientific baccalauréat holders.

In the end, depending on the course, between 30% and 50% of students obtain their Bachelor's degree in 3 or 4 years. Nearly one-third of Bachelor's graduates continue onto a Master's programme. Depending on the course, 46% to 61% of Master's students complete their studies in 2 years.


Other editions

Etat de l'enseignement supérieur et de la rechercheHigher education & research in France, facts and figures 9th edition - November 2016
12 - students in higher education - Elisabeth Algava
With 2,470,000 students enrolled at the start of the 2014-15 academic year, numbers in higher education have increased significantly (+1.6%). There have never been so many students. This rise is due to the growth in the proportion of young people accessing higher education, even though the number of young people has fallen [Consult the following page]
Etat de l'enseignement supérieur et de la rechercheHigher education & research in France, facts and figures 8th edition - November 2015
11 - students in higher education - Laurence Dauphin
There was a marked increase (+1.8%) in the total number of students in higher education, with 2,430,100 enrolled at the start of the 2013-14 academic year – the highest number to date. This increase is explained by the fact that higher education today has much greater appeal, even though there are fewer young people of studying age. Young women make up the majority of students and graduates [Consult the following page]

Translation

 Etat de l'enseignement supérieur et de la rechercheL'état de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche en France n°10 - Avril 2017
12 - les étudiants en formation dans l’enseignement supérieur - Elisabeth Algava
À la rentrée 2015, on compte 2 551 100 inscriptions dans l’enseignement supérieur. Le nombre d’étudiants inscrits progresse de 3,2 % par rapport à l’année précédente. Le nombre de jeunes s’engageant dans les études supérieures progresse fortement depuis 5 ans [Consult the following page in french]


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