Research in French Institutions for Higher Education [fr]

Some figures

Higher education institutions comprise, in addition to 83 universities: :

  • 3 national polytechnic institutes,
  • 4 Écoles normales supérieures,
  • 5 French schools abroad,
  • 2 observatories (Paris and Nice),
  • 9 institutes of political science,
  • Other major institutes (Collège de France, National Museum of Natural History, School for the Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, École des chartes, National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, École pratique des hautes études)
  • More than 200 establishments that confer engineering degrees
  • More than 200 business schools.

Thanks to the quality of their research, these establishments working in the areas of sciences, culture and professional education (EPSCP) are authorized to issue doctoral degrees (close to 10 000 doctoral graduates per year).

Public research is produced by research units often consisting of research professors from universities and institutes and researchers from a variety of research organizations. Higher education institutions are home to some 3 300 research teams and laboratories. Half of them are mixed research units or federative research institutes, under the shared responsibility between the organizations.

The work by these units and institutes is supported by funding agencies which contribute to the financing of the projects led by laboratories. This type of funding is structured and enhanced through the oversight of two national agencies: National Research Agency (ANR) and Agency for Industrial Innovation (AII).

Higher education institutions employ some 55 550 researchers (full-time equivalents (FTE)), or more than half of the public sector researchers.

The universities are the first sector in public research (4.9 billion euros in 2008).

Reforms for the French universities and research

Research centres and universities are restructuring – due to the creation of PRES centres (Research and Higher Education centres), 15 of which are building close ties with the private sector – increasing their visibility internationally, and are establishing a place for themselves in the global competition in research. The French government is investing 5 billion euros into 12 campuses (Opération Campus) in order to renovate the facilities and to promote meetings between researchers, students and industrial partners. In this way, the universities are placed once again at the heart of the research activities.

The LRU law (Liberty and Responsibility of Universities) of August 10, 2007 modified the organization and functioning of universities in order to make them more attractive and more open to the private sector. The universities are now able to manage their scientific policies, budgets, human resources and real estate heritage.They have the possibility to receive funding thanks to university foundations they have put in place. As of January 1, 2011, 73 universities are enjoying the benefits of this added autonomy. All French universities will be awarded the same type of autonomy in 2012.

For more information on the reforms that are currently taking place in French higher education institutions, click on our "Higher education in France" webpage.

For more information regarding the Agency for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education in charge of evaluating research and higher education organizations and institutions, visit the AERES website or download the information leaflet below:

PDF - 102.6 kb
AERES leaflet
(PDF - 102.6 kb)

You can also download below a pdf document explaining the French University Reforms:

PDF - 113.8 kb
(PDF - 113.8 kb)

September 6th, 2011


Last modified on 21/02/2013

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