How not to be a 'loser' at lycée and beyond

The whole business of what is what, whose is valid, etc is all, to be quite frank, tosh. Please, all of you look at:

I have advised people, accompanied people to universities in several countries and laughed in the faces of bureaucrats talking from where the sun does not shine. In all EU countries, indeed EEA and Switzerland as well, we have agreed equivalence at eight levels. I was told that here in France I was level six, despite two doctorates completed in my time, and asked the person telling me that to go to the EQF site there and then in my presence, which she did. Although she admitted she did not know about it, which in her position she should have as an academic registrar, she conceded I am level eight but would no go as far as an apology. So please look, absorb, print out in whichever language(s) required and attack.

Ian, somebody was pulling your leg or simply incompent about the phone call. Because of decades of experience of 'substitute' applicants from all over the world it is simply not allowed. If a Cambridge admissions tutor did that he or she would be replaced next year by election of a new one, if I ever heard of that I would phone a head of college or somebody at the admissions board and report it and end of a nice little number for a complete fool.

However, the point about Scotland is very valid (bit patriotic on my part although I did not study there) places like Edinburgh (22 on world table anyway), Stirling, Aberdeen and St Andies are brilliant...

Anyway, everybody please look at EQF and take it from there again.

@Ian - do they go to an international school?

Our local lycée would just laugh if I asked about doing that. :)

Not sure mine will ever get to GCSE level Ian but that's good to know.

@Steve, he's my dearly beloved. :)

Our boys have done the Cambridge iGCSE in English Language and English Literature, and they have teachers at the school who help with and follow up on the UCAS process. They say that sometimes it is necessary for the applicant to phone the university directly so that they can tell that their English is up to scratch.

twdb? twice wed dimwit brother? tosser... wa...? terribly wise dad B I give up

Many universities request a foundation year in English. Some provide it, some don't which is why I investigated EF which offers an extremely good one by the looks of things and is recognised by the universities themselves. They also offer help applying through UCAS and with the accompanying letter where you're supposed to talk about all the wonderful things you do and all the charitable work you do helping others etc and my son does nothing like that. It seems to be quite hard to do charitable work here apart from doing something for Telethon.

@Miranda, I have emailed you. :)

The formal qualification in English is worth noting too - mine are anglo-french and only speak French for the moment but they've got a few years before they ge to that stage and who knows what the situation will be in 15 years time... ={:-O

Yup. And also it's not your nationality that decides anything, I believe it's something along the lines of where your residence has been for the last three years. So English residents going to Scotland get charged the equivalent of English fees because Scottish residents get charged such fees in England.

If you want to attend university in the UK they will likely want a formal qualification in English too.

Very interesting regarding the fees in Scotland Ian, hadn't thought of that one, there again mine are only 4.5 and 3 years old!

I have a son in Terminale and another in Permiere. Both doing S, Option Internationale.

Neither of them want to study in France, and yes, the description given by Sarah fits with our experiences. So, our boys have been investigating universities in Scotland because there we don't pay the massive fees required in England and Wales (and possibly NI). The rules relate to reciprocal agreements on fees between countries, so if according to their rules you fall into the same category as EU but not English, then the fees are paid by the government as they are for Scottish residents. This means that the cost of them being at university in the UK would be much the same as if they were at an institution here.

Love this post! - you sure you are not talking about my son?!

Please could you contact me at

thanks, Miranda Ingram

30 secs to comment as the new puppy is destroying the leather club chair. Hoping my kids will want to study in Australia by the time they are in Lycée. For now it's homeschooling. In the end - even if it's a small world, it's also a big world if this country doesn't suit - there are indeed others with bright opportunities that value human capacities more than the narrow minded system does here. Go the English route I say! In any case - good luck. It's a hard choice to make for kids and parents alike...

@Hilary, there are many routes to work and happiness. But I have to start thinking of my son's future, as he does himself, as some things take planning and organisation.

What I wrote in my blog post highlights the nitty gritty of attitudes about further education in France.

@Deborah - my son was born in France so going to university in the UK sounds incredibly exotic :)

Is it just me? I left school at 16 (thinking I was too thick to do A levels, let alone go to Uni). However, I soon realised that wasn't the case and worked and studied at the same time - subjects which interested me. Oh yes and I got married and had three kids too. At 28 I discovered a degree course in Landscape Architecture and did that, then post grad diploma, then professional exams to become a Chartered Landscape Architect. Later, again, following my interests rather than 'doing the right thing' I did a Cert Ed and Advanced diploma in Environmental Project Management. (Oh yes, and child number 4). Moving to France, despite my best efforts I was unable to find work as a landscape architect so started teaching English as a foreign language.

The point is, I haven't followed the 'normal' route but I haven't starved, I'm still learning and love teaching.

Of my three adult kids, the one with the most qualifications is now working nights in a factory and spending quality day time with his partner and children. To me he has a better life/ work balance than many people and is also happier with his life than most. Okay, 'nuff said. I have 15 minutes to change my mind about posting this...I wonder if I will :-)

I found this discussion very interesting as have a foot in both camps. Have one daughter who went to Exeter and found that having a degree gave her debt and frankly not that much of an advantage in the job market. UK educational qualifications in general are pretty downgraded and it seems to me wherever you are there are going to be disadvantages - no system is perfect. We have two daughters in the French system and have found the rigour to be very effective. Over here they have both learnt that you can 'fail' and that spelling and other standards do matter. None of our daughters 'knew' what they wanted to do, but all are arty in one way or another. Our middle daughter is at the Sorbonne, which costs only 350euros a year in fees. Yes the Paris rental costs are high, but she works much harder than most of her UK friends at so-called 'good' universities. Our younger daughter is wanting to go to Bordeaux to a fac and keep her options wide open, as she has no idea of what she wants to do. She loves acting and has been in a few French TV series, but she wants to go to a fac so that she can experience as much as possible and then narrow down her studies after her licence. Neither of our daughters who were educated in France wanted to do the Grand Ecole route as neither wanted to put in the work - fair enough as we are not into throwing money away. For us the advantages of the French system are that costs are lower and neither will have a huge student debt. It seems to us that all three daughters will have had a comparable education in terms of quality, which is important. I think it is sad that those who have been educated in France are considering going back to the UK to uni - there are other European options. Frankly life is tough out there post lycee and post uni wherever you are unless you are insulated by enough money to keep you above it all. You have to work whatever system you are in to the best advantage possible and for the good of your child - ultimately that is what we all want.

@Emily - that's risk of course, but he could always retire to France... :)

Your daughter sounds a bright girl with tons of options. You were at Exeter too? That makes three of us at least!! :)

Hi Annie, I'm glad to hear your son is doing what he wants to do - that's the most important thing after all, whatever it is.

I'm shocked that his costs are going to sky rocket in Spain, sounds like he really needs that Erasmus grant.

I know what you mean about retirement, we've been told at work we can carry on until 70!!

Just chipping in here - slight change of direction. Eldest is doing LEA at fac, might seem a cop out to all those academics writing before me, but in the UK I doubt he would have considered uni in any shape or form. Anyway he is happy and about to start year 3 with Erasmus in Spain. We have worked hard to ensure that he doesn't come out with any loans to repay after this (3 years plus MA) but have just heard that our CAF has ended now he is 20 and that he won't get a bourse next year. His accommodation (without utilities) is going to triple in Spain, so with no bourse and no prospect of a part time job in Spain, and a yet to be decided Erasmus grant, does anyone know of any funding streams we could apply to. We are chasing for APL at the moment but not sure that will apply whilst he is in Spain.

Looks like our plans for semi retirement could well be on hold again!!

Quie understand Sarah, and yes it's a real shame the way higher education, well education in general for that matter, is going. As is usually the case I agree with Brian's comments ;-)