Campus France, one of the leading study guides offering foreign students how to experience education in France, reveals in its latest statistics that students of Moroccan origin constitute the largest international community in France at the moment. Moroccan students account for 20% of all foreign school students registered in France, and lead the way, with 43,000 Moroccans enrolled in French education.
OrientXXI, a newspaper specialising in Middle Eastern and North African affairs, has had access to the document and reveals that Moroccan students are particularly interested in French education. According to them, 12% of them want to study engineering in the future, which is above average.
Morocco and France are two nations that have a very good relationship with each other, so exchanges or the presence of Moroccan nationals to study in another country is not unusual. In France, the only requirement for young Moroccans to be able to participate in the French education system is that they have a good command of the French language. This is a key point when it comes to selecting students, as those who do not have this knowledge are completely ruled out. According to Campus France, knowing French allows them to "open up fields of social practice whose interests are related to the appropriation of material and symbolic capital".
For its part, the study guide adds that learning French is not at all difficult for Moroccans, and that, although it is not at all similar to Arabic, its learning is quite extensive and the use of the two languages can be perfectly combined despite the existing differences.
Also, on the subject of 12% of these Moroccans wanting to become engineers, the guide adds that since the 1980s and due to the decline of legal studies in Morocco and of all careers related to law, Moroccans have begun to look for alternatives. In addition, engineering schools, compared to university degrees, produce many more jobs upon graduation, which is why many students choose this option.
This trend has been growing for years. The latest data from a few years ago demonstrates the leadership of Moroccan students in French education. In 2017-2019, Moroccans were ranked as the largest foreign student community in France, followed by Algerian nationals who had just over 31,000 registered students.
During the 2018-2019 academic year, 12% of all international students in France came from Morocco, in addition to which it is worth noting that almost half of all of them, 46%, are from African countries such as Tunisia, Algeria, Ivory Coast and Cameroon, among others. The rest are students from European countries and, to a lesser extent, from Asia.
In 2019-2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic and all its negative consequences, the data were not very good for the reception of Moroccan students because, due to the latest events concerning COVID-19, Morocco decided to protect itself against the spread of the virus and suspended entry across borders until the situation had normalised worldwide, so that very few Moroccan nationals studied in France that year.
Many of them, who had already been studying for several years, had difficulties returning to their schools. Michaël Hauchecorne, director of the Network of Vice-Presidents for International Relations of Universities, said at the time that "the health crisis will inevitably have an impact. But we expect that the decrease in the number of foreign students will not exceed 25 to 30%. Everything will depend on the evolution of the health situation in many countries, especially in Africa.
Despite the pandemic situation and the problems that have arisen, Moroccans have therefore been able to restart their studies in France without any problems, showing a normality that had been paralysed in recent times.