In the past 10 years in France, there has been a remarkable desire of young people to pursue an undergraduate education and then graduate education, to which few had access (Courtillot, 1993). The reform and democratization of higher education in France, initially begun in the 1960s, have resulted in tripling both student enrollment and the number of universities. While subsequent growth was more moderate, French university education has begun a new period of expansion of access in the 1990s (Charlot and Pottier, 1992).

Anticipating a profound change in the structure of employment, France has the goal of educating 80 percent of its young people to the level of the baccalaureat (or Bac-6 year secondary school) by the year 2000. Since the Bac was traditionally a prestigious degree to which few could aspire, [24] the rapid expansion of the baccalaureate degree raises the issue of "watering down the bac" (Godet, 1993) [25] . Nonetheless, the growth in numbers of young men and women succeeding in the Bac, especially in mathematics and in the technical and career fields, is creating a greater demand for higher education. In 1992, there were 1.3 million students in French universities, five times as many as a generation ago.


The University of Paris, established in the middle of the 12th century, is the second oldest university in Europe and has been an important center of international scholarship since then. Two more universities were founded in France during the 13th century: Montpellier (1220) and Toulouse (1229). By the end of the 15th century, France could boast of nine universities located throughout the country. France was a leader in the development of engineering education in Europe in the 18th century. The Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, established in 1747, is generally considered the first formal school of engineering in the world. The Grandes Ecoles, such as l'Ecole Polytechnique, begun during the French Revolution, were strengthened and upgraded by Napoleon to provide training in engineering and technical fields to the brightest students in France (Lambrech, 1993).

French strength in mathematics has been evident since the 17th century when René Descartes invented analytical geometry, introduced the deductive method in science, and applied mathematical analysis to the study of moving bodies. Descartes was one of several founders of the Académie des Sciences in 1666, next to the Royal Society, London, the world's oldest scientific society in continuous existence. Today, institutions of higher education in France include universities; technical institutes; and Grandes Ecoles of engineering, business, and administration. The vast majority of students are in universities; only 90,000 students attend the prestigious Grandes Ecoles (Feldman and Morelle, 1994). Technology programs of a 2-year duration following the Bac grew rapidly in the 1980s at the University Institutes of Technology and the Sections de Technicien Superieur. There are also many specialized institutions of higher education of 2- to 3-year duration for professional training for paramedics, nurses, and education specialists (Charlot and Pottier, 1992).

In 1975, only 4.2 percent of the college-age cohort obtained a university education. This access to higher education tripled in 16 years: by 1992, 13 percent of young French men and women obtained a university degree. From 1975 to 1992, the number of NS&E degrees doubled, from 17,000 to more than 35,000. (Gov. of France, 1993.)

Even when the college-age cohort began to decline in 1985, the number of degrees in science and engineering continued to increase. The number of degrees obtained in natural sciences, mathematics, and computer sciences increased annually by 8 percent; engineering degrees increased by 3 percent in this same period. The percentage of the college-age cohort receiving an NS&E degree went from 1.9 in 1975 to 4.2 in 1992. (See appendix table 8.) (See figure 19.) Data on the number of social science degrees are incomplete; political science degrees, blended in with law degrees in French educational statistics, are excluded, as are degrees in social and behavioral sciences, which are blended in with humanities. (See Notes on Data Series.)

Some French scientists have argued that French education in the sciences lacks sufficient experimental work and individual initiative (Allègre, 1993) [26] . For example, in French universities, nearly all of physics is taught on theoretical points, a small percent on numeric applications. Because of this, critics are concerned that French science, while traditionally contributing heavily in theoretical breakthroughs in mathematics, chemistry, and physics, does not translate easily into technology, except for chemical research used by private industry. To stimulate a more technological orientation, France recently established the Technological University of Compiègne, has sought to increase the number of engineering students who participate in experimental research as part of their education, and has promoted internship programs in industry. Prominent among these internships is a doctoral program partially supported by industry, Convention Industrielle de Formation por la Recherche (CIFRE), to conduct industrially relevant research (Charlot and Pottier, 1992).

France also introduced educational reforms (1982) to encourage girls to study science and engineering (Wilson, 1991). These reforms are showing an effect in recent education statistics. By 1992, more than 5 percent of college-age males and almost 2 percent of college-age females obtained a university degree in natural sciences or engineering. Women obtain one-half of the first university degrees in the social sciences, 35 percent of the degrees in natural sciences, and 19 percent of the engineering degrees. (See appendix table 20.) Women in France have the highest ratio of engineering degrees to total university degrees among any of the Western European countries studied. An estimated 7 percent of first university degrees [27] obtained by French women in 1991 were in fields of engineering. (See appendix table 21.)

Doctoral Reform in France

In 1984, doctoral reform in France replaced multiple types of doctorates with a single doctorate, requiring 3 to 5 years of study and research. In 1988, France undertook a further reform of doctoral studies to double the number and improve the quality of doctoral degrees in science and engineering within 8 years. All the dossiers (program descriptions) of scientific specialties were reviewed for coherent coursework, research methods and equipment, and expertise of faculty. Those meeting all qualifications were certified by the Director of Research and Doctoral Studies within the Ministry of Education (Gov. of France, 1992). The Paris and Versailles regions award the greatest number of doctoral degrees in the sciences. Large doctoral programs in science also exist in Grenoble, Nancy-Metz, Montpellier, and Toulouse. Besides universities, the national laboratories in France provide doctoral training. The Technological University of Compiègne has increased the number of doctoral programs in engineering (Gov. of France, 1994b).

The number of doctoral degrees in science and engineering increased from 6,000 in 1989 to 8,200 in 1992, close to a 27-percent increase (Gov. of France, 1994a). This rapid increase, particularly in mechanical, process, and civil engineering, has been supported through increasing government funding of research assistantships for doctoral students. In addition, CIFRE funds doctoral students and provides dissertation research opportunities in innovative areas of interest to private industry.

Women in France earn higher percentages of doctoral degrees in most NS&E fields than women in other European countries or in the United States. (See text table 10.)Foreign students earn one out of three doctoral degrees in France in all fields of science, with variations among fields. In 1992, they earned less than 20 percent of the medical degrees, but 44 percent of the mathematics and 41 percent of mechanical, process, and civil engineering doctoral degrees. About one-half the foreign doctoral recipients in the natural sciences and engineering stay to work in France. Their return rate to their home country differs by field: in 1992, only 44 percent with mathematics degrees returned, but 80 percent of those with degrees in earth, atmospheric, and oceanographic sciences returned (Gov. of France, 1994b).

Research and Development

France, with a 1993 GDP of $879 billion, invested approximately 2.4 percent of its GDP in R&D. Industry financed approximately 45.7 percent of total R&D. With an expanding economy in the 1980s, France designated investment in research as a national priority, and R&D enjoyed high growth rates. Overall R&D in France grew at twice the rate of GDP throughout the 1980s, with more than 5-percent average annual increases, from 1980 to 1991. During this period, total R&D expenditures grew from 51 billion Francs in 1980, to 171 billion Francs in 1993. In constant U.S. dollars, the increase was from $12.6 billion, to more than $21 billion. From 1991 to 1993, neither the economy nor the R&D expenditures grew. (See figure 20.)

The level-funding in recent years in France, as well as several countries throughout Europe, is partly due to the global trend of reduced military R&D, and partly a result of France's rethinking its investments in science during a period of slow economic growth. Defense R&D investments grew steadily throughout the 1980s, reaching 42 percent of government R&D in 1988. This peak in defense spending was followed by sharp decreases: in 1991, only 35 percent of government R&D went to defense research (Gov. of France, 1995).

In 1993, France held a national consultation on strategic planning for French research policy and sent the resulting report to the National Assembly in June of 1994, with a request for steady increases in science budgets over the next 10 years (Goldsmith, 1994). The policy maintains basic research funding at the level of inflation, while proposed increases for R&D would go to applied research. The overall goal is to sustain R&D growth at 2.5 percent a year above the rate of growth of GDP (Balter, 1994b).

A key national priority for R&D policy is to encourage industrial support of research. To this end, government support of total R&D declined from 54.2 percent in 1975 to 44.3 percent in 1992, while industry somewhat increased its support from 30 percent in 1975 to 44.7 percent in 1992. Industry performs 61 percent of all research. In addition, there is a strong trend toward internationalization of industrial R&D in large enterprises. Foreign financing of industrial R&D increased from 6 percent in 1980, to 12 percent in 1993, particularly for industries involved in the European Space Agency, Airbus, and European Community programs (Gov. of France, 1995).

For public research, France established a network of national scientific laboratories, beginning in 1939-the National Committee for Scientific Research (known by its French abbreviation, CNRS). By 1993, more than 1,000 CNRS laboratories or affiliated laboratories employed more than 11,300 scientists and 7,500 engineers to conduct research in a wide range of fields, including the physical and mathematical sciences, nuclear physics, engineering, science of the universe, chemical and life sciences, and social and behavioral sciences. CNRS also conducts interdisciplinary research on environment, cognition, materials science, and nanotechnology. Other major public establishments are devoted to medical research (INSERM), nuclear sciences (CEA), agronomic research (INRA), computer and information science (INRIA), space research (CNES), and oceanographic research (IFREMER) [28] . These national laboratories conduct about 22 percent of all research in France (Gov. of France, 1995). Roughly half of French scientists involved in basic research are civil servants who work full time on research at laboratories run by government agencies such as CNRS and INSERM (Balter, 1994a).

Universities conduct 16 percent of the overall research in France and employ more than 26,000 scientists and engineers in research and teaching positions. Universities have attempted to link their research with the major facilities available in CNRS laboratories and to the needs of industry. Doctoral students can conduct their dissertation research on a problem pertinent to industry, under partial industrial support of their graduate training (CIFRE). The strategic plan for R&D submitted to the National Assembly discusses additional incentives to exchange scientists between national laboratories (CNRS), universities, and industries (EC, 1994b).

The development and employment of young researchers, both within France and from developing countries, is also a priority area. Within France, the number of research scientists and engineers in full-time equivalents almost doubled in the past 16 years: from 29,000 in 1975, to 53,000 in 1991. (See appendix table 12.) Most of the growth occurred in industry; almost half of these researchers are employed by industry, a third in higher education, and 20 percent in national laboratories. In addition, CNRS recently signed an agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the training of young researchers from developing countries. Similar program agreements already exist between UNESCO and the French universities (NSF, 1994a).

At the national level, France structures its Funds for Research and Technology through the Grands Programmes-megaprojects in areas of scientific priority that have a socioeconomic or strategic objective and require the mobilization of multi-year funding. In 1993, France expended approximately 12 billion Francs ($1.6 billion in constant U.S. dollars) on the Grands Programmes in three categories: (1) Very large facilities with timetables for achieving some S&T milestones, including space research (CNES), the synchrotron radiation facility, and nuclear reactors. These are generally co-financed by many international partners. (2) Programs for basic understanding and advancement of knowledge with no fixed times or targets, such as AIDS, genome and protein research, and global change. In these areas in particular, continuity of funding is indispensable for meaningful research results. (3) Finally, those programs somewhere between fixed time-tables and open-ended investigations including areas such as information systems, Joint European Sub-Micron Silicon, and other microelectronic projects, and high-definition television. These final programs have partnerships with consortia of industries. The level of French support for some of these programs in 1993 is provided in text table 11 (Gov. of France, 1995).

France is also a major supporter of several very large multinational regional facilities, including the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, the CERN project on the Large Hadron Collider for particle physics, the European Southern Observatory in Chile, a large telescope in Hawaii, and several oceanographic research vessels. Two important multinationally supported facilities located in France (both in Grenoble) are the thermal neutron facility, Institute Laue-Langevin and the new (1994) European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), which is used by researchers in a wide range of scientific fields, primarily condensed matter physics, molecular biology, and microelectronics.Besides these large facilities for big science, and a network of national laboratories, other key dimensions of S&T infrastructure exist in France. Several research groups from public organizations, university laboratories, and private institutions are coordinating their research on the evolution, mapping, and sequencing of genes. This work is part of an International Human Genome Research Project, to which French scientists are important contributors [29] . In addition, the Pasteur Institute, a private foundation established in 1887, has more than 100 laboratories conducting basic research to fight infectious diseases and a teaching hospital specializing in their treatment. The Pasteur Institute contributes to public health research throughout the world and has made a very large investment in AIDS research [30] (Gov. of France, 1995).

France is attempting to broaden geographic distribution of R&D, and narrow the disparities between the most prestigious research universities and those that do little research. In 1994, the French Science Minister proposed plans to eliminate 80 positions for teacher-researchers at six leading French universities to create new posts at campuses with few professors who do research (Kaiser, 1994) [31] . New CNRS facilities and responsibilities are also being shifted from the Paris region to reduce the concentration of research in the capital and strengthen it in several regions. CNRS recently mandated that
two-thirds of all new appointments must be outside the Paris region.

[24] Of the late 19th-century French authors, Gustave Flaubert passed his Bac; Emile Zola was unsuccessful.

[25] A similar controversy exists in Germany regarding the Abitur, the secondary school examination that ensures access to the university.

[26] Claude Allégre served as Special Advisor for universities under Education Minister Lionel Jospin.

[27] Total university degrees include Maitrises degrees (4-year programs) and Grandes Ecoles (5-year programs for engineering). The number of engineering degrees obtained by women was taken from the Statistical Tables of the Ministry of Education, Diplomes d'Ingénieur 1991, Documentation Center, Vanves, 1992.

[28] Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM); Commissariaté l'Energie Atomique (CEA); Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA); Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique (INRIA); Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES); and Institut Français de Recherche l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER).

[29] An International Conference on the Human Genome held in Washington, D.C., in July, 1994, had several French contributors.

[30] It was from one of these Pasteur labs that a virus sample was sent to NIH and used to make a blood test, resulting in a decade-long controversy on intellectual property rights. In 1994, NIH acknowledged that the Pasteur virus was used by NIH scientists to develop the American HIV blood test, which was patented. "The French virus was used by NIH scientists in developing the American test kit" (Harold Varmus, Science, July 1, 1994, p. 25).

[31] This proposal has been highly criticized by the leading French universities.