Spain or France to study? The final battle

For five consecutive years, Spain has been the favorite destination of French students. In our article Cost of living in Spain as a student and Guide to find a job in Spain as a student, we explained some differences between these two countries. Mainly concerning lifestyle.

Now we will compare Spain and France in an intense battle. If you are a French student and you are planning to study abroad, maybe Spain can be the answer.

The school calendar Spain has more holidays!

The school year is similar in both countries. It’s divided into two semesters with periods of vacations and exams. Students begin classes at the same time, around mid-September and finish them by mid-May. The final exams take place at the end of December and it happens the same in May.

Regarding holidays (because you need it !), there are 11 days per year in France and 14 in Spain.

More about the school system

In primary and secondary school, students go to classes 175 days a year or 35 weeks of 5 days. The average length of a class is approximately one hour. The students have classes in the morning and afternoon and begin on average at 9 am and finish around 5 pm.

In France, the situation is similar, except that the school week lasts four and a half days and the pupils have fewer days of school per year.

The teaching method is where we can find more differences between these countries. France methodology is more rigorous and focused on results. Students are required to follow the indications of the colleges precisely (for example for dissertations, homework, etc). This is not the case in Spain. There, the organization and the ways of doing things are less well defined and therefore less restrictive.

On the other hand, the grade of autonomy is another point of differentiation between France and Spain. In the first country, students have a self-learning approach. What it means that they are less accompanied by the institution.  Therefore, they have a strong sense of independence.

However, the French system is generally considered to be more stressful than the one in Spain, where pressure and competition among students are lower.

Different ways to evaluate

As in all European countries, students must validate 60 credits per year of study (30 per semester). The difference between the two countries lies in the scoring system: in Spain, students are graded out of 10 while in France they are graded out of 20.

In addition, the French system is more severe, taking into consideration that it is difficult to reach a score of 15/20. For instance, in Spain, it is not so rare to get a 10/10.


Educational offer

The two countries have roughly the same number of universities. So far, are registered 75 universities in France and 84 in Spain (50 public and 34 private)

Spain is part of the European university system, which means that the certificates issued in the EU countries are valid for all the participants in this system. You can have the same type of diploma in both countries: bachelor’s degree, master and PhD

The only difference is that the bachelor’s degree in Spain lasts four years and sometimes even five years in medical disciplines, against three in France. It should be mention that the medical and veterinary sectors are very popular in Spain since French students try to get another alternative. The French offer in these areas is very competitive and complicated.

On the side of the Spanish students, they prefer to study careers relative to social sciences (56% in Master and 46% in bachelor’s degrees).

Cost of living in both countries

As you probably know (if not… check our articles clicking here and here) the costs of living in France is more expensive than in Spain. A good example is housing prices. We compared both capitals: Paris and Madrid. A 20m2   apartment in the city center in Madrid will have a rent of about 400 € per month when the same property in a valued district of Paris will make you spend more than 600 € per month.

The overall costs of living are significantly lower than in France: indeed, everything is cheaper. Food, drinks, rent and night outs… as an indicator, we can mention the price of half of the beer in a bar. It costs on average 3 euros while in Paris you will pay 5 euros.

Extra facts

The number of French students abroad is to 62,416 more than the young Spaniards who decide to study abroad each year. But how many students go to Spain and how many go to France? You must be a wonder. In terms of mobility between the two countries, 3865 students from Spain come to study in France (2nd country of origin), and 7042 French come to study in Spain (4th country of origin).

Now, about languages. French students prefer to learn Spanish with 2.5 young people studying Spanish in France, against 1 million Spaniards studying French. The new generations of French students know that Spanish will open them many doors. Spanish is the second language in the world in the number of speakers and it’s the number third most used language on the internet. In 2030, 7.5% of the world population will speak Spanish.

So, which country do you think won this battle? … If you would like to live and study in Spain, we have an extensive educational offer

Data and general information was taken from Diplomeo