Education and Schools in Paris
Paris is host to many of the world’s top-rated schools and educational facilities. Expats placing their children in schools in Paris will find a high-quality and demanding level of education. Public schooling in France is free for expats who can provide proof of residence, such as a utility bill, and private schools and universities are often subsidised. Non-residents have to pay tuition fees, as the schools are financed through tax.
Schooling in Paris, like the rest of France, is an official requirement from age six, but many parents send their children to school much earlier, from the age of two or three. The collèges cater for children 11 to 15 years old, with the lycées for the 15 to 18 year olds. The baccalaureate, or le bac, is the finishing diploma for schooling in Paris, and performance in this exam determines access to higher education.
The schooling culture in Paris emphasises academic excellence and usually allows the teacher to preside over their domain with little input from parents – an arrangement many expats may not be used to. A parent would do well to discuss these differences with their child before they enter into the schooling system.
Private schools in Paris
Private schools can be a good option for expats, especially as many of these provide classes taught in English as well as in French. There are two types of private schools in France: those that have contracts with the government and those that don't. Roman Catholic government-contracted schools can cost as little as 300 EUR per year, whereas independent private schools in Paris can cost in excess of 2,000 EUR. A private school may ease a child's transition into French culture, especially for those from substantially different backgrounds.
Paris is also home to a number of international schools.
Tertiary education in Paris
The French tertiary education system is divided into the grandes écoles and the universities, with the former being more prestigious. The École Polytechnique in the Latin Quarter and the Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC) of Paris are rated tenth and fifth in world rankings, respectively.
Unlike in most countries, universities in France are specialised rather than general. This means that students choose to attend universities based on their subject choice. For instance, the École Polytechnique is an engineering school, while HEC Paris is a business school. The University of Paris is a world leading tertiary education institution specialising in the humanities.
Public institutions like the Polytechnique have set fees and receive subsidies from the government, so costs are kept low, with annual tuition fees rarely exceeding 300 EUR for expat residents and citizens.
For private universities in Paris, such as HEC Paris, 17,000 EUR per year is a rough estimate of associated costs.