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EDHEC Study: International Management Students, an Asset for French Companies

EDHEC MBA En ligne

Key Highlights:

  • In 2022-2023, France welcomed 412,087 international students, an increase of 3% compared to the previous year and 17% over five years. The number of students in business schools has increased by 80% in five years.
  • 84% of international students believe they have the necessary intercultural skills to work internationally, and 66% consider that societal impact will be a determining criterion for their job choice
  • The study was conducted by the EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre, in collaboration with the CDEFM (Conference of Directors of French Management Schools), and is based on more than 2,000 respondents from over 100 nationalities.

France’s attractiveness as a land of education is undeniable. In 2022-2023, there were 412,087 international students enrolled in French higher education, an increase of 3% over one year and 17% over five years.

The number of international students in business schools has seen the strongest growth: +80% in 5 years. The leading management schools are particularly attractive to students from Asia-Oceania, who make up about one-third of the international student population in these institutions.

Commissioned by the CDEFM, the EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre, a reference centre for new generations of graduates, conducted the first study on the profiles of international students in the leading management schools, published at the end of May during the conference “Responsible Student Mobility and Employability of Internationals”.

With more than 2,000 respondents from more than 100 different nationalities, this study reflects the diversity of international students in management in France, 82% of whom are on an international mobility programme, mainly degree-granting.

This extensive monograph discusses the characteristics of international mobility in France, the profiles of international students and their professional aspirations in relation to young French graduates.

With the departure of baby-boomers into retirement, the demographic situation in Europe has further accentuated the problem of attracting, retaining and engaging young graduates, which has become the main concern of business leaders.

The results of this study confirm the opportunity that this international and diverse youth of our leading management schools represents for French companies in search of committed talent.

Key Figures:

  • 88% of international students have a positive view of the company
  • 16 months is the average length of international students’ courses in France
  • 84% of international students believe they have the sufficient intercultural skills to work internationally
  • 9 out of 10 students think that companies have a role to play in relation to the world’s major challenges and that companies must transform themselves
  • 66% consider that the societal impact (social and/or environmental) will be a determining criterion for their job choice

Main Lessons:

Students from Asia and North America often have a first degree in engineering, which they come to supplement with a Master’s degree in the French management schools.

This is a great opportunity for French companies in search of dual skills.

Before their academic stay in a management school, 22% of international students have already had international experiences, notably in France. The acculturation is therefore facilitated.

The average length of their course in France is 16 months, which allows them to significantly improve their level of French in order to optimize their integration.

76% of international students believe that their studies before arriving in France have sufficiently sensitized them to social issues, but more than half of them believe that these issues are more often taken into account in France. International students have preferences close to those of the French for the size of the company, but with a stronger interest in salaried employment and cooperative and mutual companies.

When they have a preference, international students would like to work in Europe.

Like the French, 88% of international students have a positive view of the company, but not naively: 9 out of 10 students think that companies have a role to play in relation to the world’s major challenges and that companies must transform themselves.

Moreover, 66% consider that the societal impact (social and/or environmental) will be a determining criterion for their job choice, with differences according to their geographical origin.

For their careers, they first aspire to develop their skills and have high incomes while having varied professional ambitions: competitive and entrepreneurial profiles are more represented than the committed profile which is more often chosen in France and North America.

Responsibility, adaptability, and collaboration are the three skills best mastered by international students. In their future professional life, they expect a manager to be transparent and honest, to help them develop their employability by trusting them and giving them autonomy.

Finally, 76% are confident about their integration into the job market and approach the employment market with enthusiasm.


Aware of the administrative complexities involved in hiring, the CDEFM has published a practical guide for companies that will facilitate their recruitment procedures and make these international graduates a definite asset for businesses.

The results of the study are available on the EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre website.


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