In another move to promote relations between these old allies, the Cultural and Scientific Services of the French Embassy in Washington launched a two-part program entitled Community College Abroad in France, in partnership with Community Colleges for International Development and the n+i network (a network of 50 top engineering schools in France). The Community College Abroad in France program includes two components: a ten-day non-degree-granting summer boot camp, and a four-year degree-granting program.
Part of the Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative, a dual initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched in 2014 to increase and diversify student mobility cross-Atlantic, the community college program echoes the French Embassy’s mission to reach new audiences—in this case, American students traditionally underrepresented in study abroad programs.
Seventeen community college students from across the U.S. specializing in engineering and environmental science took part in this June’s ten-day non-degree-granting pilot boot camp in Paris. The program included a series of professional and scientific visits to learn about air quality control (Ballon d’air de Paris), environmental management practices for water distribution (Usine d’Austerlitz), innovative urban transportation, and lighting management in Paris.
Offering graduate studies abroad, the four-year degree-granting program in France is open to a small group of hand-selected students following the completion of their two-year associate degrees at U.S. community colleges with honors. Selected students are offered the opportunity to complete a Diplôme d’ingénieur (engineering degree) within four years of graduating from a community college.
Students begin the program with a pre-Diplôme d’ingénieur, a preparatory year in France, which allows them to become acquainted with new methods of study and to strengthen their French language skills. This is followed by a three-year work-study Diplôme d’ingénieur at one of the top-50 engineering schools of the n+i network.
The program is designed to offer students professionalized training while enabling them to self-finance their degrees. Students attend classes part-time while completing paid part-time internships.
The French Embassy also offers one student a scholarship to finance the pre-Diplôme d’ingénieur year in France. This year, the laureate is Daniela Markovic from the honors college at Lonestar College in Houston Texas. She will start July 2017.
Community College Abroad in France aims to open up the classic junior-year-abroad experience to community college students. Amid soaring tuition prices in the U.S., they make up a significant portion of America’s post-high-school student body but rarely find the means or programs to do some of their studies internationally.
According to the Community College Research Center at Columbia University, 39% of all undergraduates in the 2015–16 school year in the U.S. were at two-year community colleges, but only 2% of them studied abroad.