France is consistently one of the top destinations for international students. For a student looking for a potential destination, some of the country’s benefits may seem obvious. The opportunity to improve your French in the country that birthed the language. A culture so finely developed, it rivals any other you may care to think of. A beauty that inspired Monet, Hugo and Chanel. A society that has given us such great minds as Proust, Voltaire and de Beauvoir.
The spirit of France is one that attracts millions of visitors each year, but to live in the country, to truly experience it, is something else entirely.
One such way is to study in France and with universities dating back hundreds of years, it offers exceptional education in the arts, innovation, science, technology and many more. One institution you should very much consider is Université Catholique de l'Ouest, or the Catholic University of the West (UCO).
Founded in 1875, Université Catholique de l'Ouest is one of the oldest universities in the West of France and a leading player in modern higher education and research. With over 100 courses available across eight campuses, UCO supports 10,000 students, 1500 of whom are international students.
Backed by a tradition of academic excellence and a worldwide partner network, UCO offers an ideal framework for students to become competent, free and responsible professionals, well versed in French society.
Since more than one student in ten at UCO originates from abroad, there must be a particular reason why they choose to study there. Let us take a look at what these reasons might possibly be.
1 | A respected institution
With a history dating back 140 years, UCO is well recognised by a wide variety of economic and academic institutions. UCO is a key player in the realm of French higher education, respected throughout the Western world.
UCO belongs to the UDESCA network, the Union of Catholic Higher Education Institutions, which since 1973 has brought together five Roman Catholic non-profit higher education institutions, commonly called "the Cathos".
2 | Personalized support and supervision
UCO offers each student a developed framework so that you can achieve your highest potential of skill and employability, whatever your background, culture or course choice.
The students all benefit from a semi-annual meeting with their education guide to take stock of personal work, or any difficulties encountered. Each can also talk to their teachers at any time of the year. Or if you would prefer, a phone call is never far away.
Students can also benefit from services including help finding housing, physical and mental health, as well as cultural and religious support.
And needless to say, UCO maintains a service devoted to orientation and professional integration, the SOI. Psychological counsellors allow students to work individually on their orientation and further education.
3 | An exceptional success rate
In French public universities, the Bachelors graduation rate is around 28%. Conversely, the success rate of Université Catholique de l'Ouest is 80%. UCO enjoys such a high success rate, in part, to strong educational support.
In France, an undergraduate degree is known as a License, and it is split into three segments, L1, L2 and L3. At each stage of the degree, UCO sees an incredible amount of success, which is a testament to UCO’s incredible support system and educational values.
4 | Strong values
The UCO is based on four fundamental values, which are the pillars of the University: Humanity, Proximity, Dialogue and Freedom.
These values, borne by the entire community, are reflected daily in a pedagogical approach focused on success and the wellbeing of its students: proximity, personalized follow-up, tutored projects, accompaniment to the personal and professional project, listening, availability of the teaching team, cultural animation of the campus and more. Everything is done to allow sharing, cohesion and solidarity. All these values are essential in facing the job market of tomorrow.
5 | A proven identity
Université Catholique de l'Ouest has eight campuses across seven areas: Angers, Guingamp, Laval, Nantes, Vannes, Papeete, Reunion. The primary campus is located in Angers, a top French student city, with a rich cultural identity, supported by UCO as well as its many museums and historical buildings, including the Château d'Angers.
UCO offers a wide variety of higher education experiences across its multitude of campuses, related to the needs of the students and what each territory can offer. Nevertheless, UCO maintains a focus on keeping course options consistent and having good communication between campuses for the benefit of all.
The offer of multidisciplinary training allows bridges between each campus sector, thus enabling students to build an "à la carte" course while remaining within the UCO group.
6 | Courses 100% focused on professionalization
All students complete at least one internship (2 to 6 weeks) at License 1.
This period of internship, unusual in most universities, allows students to enrich their knowledge of the trades and better understand the issues and the realities of businesses. The more the student advances in their curriculum, the longer the internship periods are, with up to 6 months of internship in M2 (the second year of Masters study).
Internships also help to refine the student's professional project. This ‘project’ is a model defined by UCO that offers a progressive path or orientation and integration, ensuring a successful career.
Every year, UCO organizes the Journées Pro, a meeting that allows students to meet companies and create their own network (conferences, round tables, forums, CV workshops, etc.). Support systems such as Journées Pro enable a very high employment rate: 84.5% of Master graduates find a job in fewer than 6 months.
7 | An Even Wider International Experience
All students of UCO have the opportunity to leave for an international experience, either during the internship or during the final year of an undergraduate degree. International students can benefit from this additional overseas experience, especially as UCO has partnerships with more than 150 universities and education groups worldwide:
• European Union (ERASMUS +)
• North America (Canada, USA)
• Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay)
• Asia (Japan, China, Philippines, Thailand)
• Oceania (Australia)
The International Relations Department also provides personalized follow-up for each student.
On campus, nearly 70 nationalities meet every year: 400 foreign students go to university exchange and 1750 are in training at the International Centre for French Studies (CIDEF).
8 | Undertaking an entrepreneurship journey
A strong focus of the curriculum at UCO is the establishment of an optional entrepreneurial program accessible to all students which allows them to participate in workshops and training modules on business creation. These innovative and vital program skills are a logical part of a partnership with the socio-economic world (companies, institutions, training) that surrounds all of us.
A flagship feature of this entrepreneurial program, the Student Entrepreneur Certificate, sponsored annually by a nearby head of business, offers students the opportunity for direct contact with the professional world. They work in teams for the development of a real or simulated project, business creation or activity, some of which can sometimes become a reality.
Additionally, a co-working space is currently being finalized to encourage students to work collaboratively.
9 | A dynamic community life
The community life of UCO counts about thirty associations, revolving around five elements: economic, cultural, sports, humanitarian and campus life. All year long, the Angers campus is alive and several events have become real institutions: The Jousts, the Cathocalypse, the Festival of 3 Coups and more.
The cultural department of UCO also organizes many shows (dance, theatre, music, conferences, etc.), thus allowing 6400 campus students to share real moments of relaxation and fun.
10 | A campus in the heart of the city
The Angers campus is located in the heart of the city, thus facilitating a real sense of identity between the students. With no need for public transport, students can do everything on foot. Just five minutes from the train station, the campus offers a pleasant living environment conducive to serenity, in the middle of a park and many green spaces. Some may say that these elements significantly contribute to the success of their studies.
How to Study in France
As we can see, studying in France, and at UCO in particular, offers a great deal of benefits, setting students up for a successful life and career. But what are the next steps? Firstly, it can be of great value to contact a university representative who can give you some personal detailed information based on your needs and requirements.
A good place to start would be to contact Clément Bedouet ([email protected]). Clément works for UCO and looks to help students find course, location and visa information. He can help you set up your journey and provide you with what you need to enjoy a spectacular and fruitful French education.