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France: best universities

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Ranking of universities in France

To account for the differences and university specificities, we have developed a ranking with five objective criteria: equal opportunities, academic success, research and publications, professional integration, and remuneration and attractiveness of the university.

Our data comes from flash notes from the SIES of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Open Data from the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, production indicators of research establishments by the High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education and data from Linkedin via our 2020 Ranking of French universities on the professional social network Linkedin.


4 criteria to determine academic excellence

The first criterion for this ranking is equality of opportunity. First, we compared the number of scholarship students graduating to the total number of graduates at each university for the master’s degree. Then, we took into account the added value, a criterion of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, which subtracts the observed success rate and the simulated success rate.

The simulated success rate is the rate that would be observed if all the universities had the same students (Professions and Socio-Professional Categories of similar parents, same grade obtained in the bac, etc.).

For example, in the universities of Paul Valéry – Montpellier 3, Reims Champagne Ardenne (URCA), and Bretagne Occidentale (UBO), nearly 45% of master’s graduates are scholarship students. At the University of Paris 2 Panthéon Assas, only 13% of students with a master’s degree hold scholarships, compared to 31% nationally.

The second criterion for our ranking of French universities in 2020 is academic success, thanks to data from the SIES Flash Notes published in February 2020 for the master’s degree and in December 2019 for the bachelor’s degree. For each university, we compared the success of undergraduate (three-year) and master’s (two-year) students, the number of repetitions, and the exit rate of university students without a diploma.

And, the differences are significant between universities. For example, the University of Angers, the University of Paris Saclay, and the Université Lumière Lyon 2 have the best success rates for a bachelor’s degree in three years.

At these three universities, nearly 50% of students obtain their licenses within three years. Conversely, at the University of Guyana, only one in ten students obtain their bachelor’s degree in three years. At Sorbonne Paris Nord (formerly Paris 13), less than one in five students have a bachelor’s degree in three years.

The third criterion retained is university research. By using the production indicators of university research establishments (IPERU) established by the High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (Hcéres), we were able to establish a hierarchy of French universities according to the number of publications between 2015 and 2017 in the following fields: basic biology, medical research, applied biology, chemistry, physics, universe sciences, engineering sciences, mathematics, human sciences, and social sciences.

As a reminder, the data collected by Hcéres come from the OST publication database, an enriched version of the Web of Science (WoS) database dated March 2019. In a number of publications, Sorbonne University, Université Paris Saclay, and the University of Paris from the podium, even if, in terms of impact at two years, Hcéres places the University of Savoie Mont Blanc in the first position.

The fourth criterion is professional integration and the rate of remuneration. To do this, we collected the data via Open Data from the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. First, we ranked the universities by comparing the median net salary of graduates (after 30 months) with the median net salary in the region.

Makes it possible not to favor universities in large metropolitan areas. Then, we ranked the French universities according to the professional integration rate (after 30 months). The University Paris 2 Panthéon Assas and the University Lyon 1 Claude Bernard lead the best salaries 30 months after graduation with an almost 20% margin over the regional average.


Top 15 universities according to four criteria in France

  1. Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University
  2. Paris Est-Créteil University (UPEC)
  3. University of Paris
  4. University of Bordeaux
  5. Paris Saclay University
  6. University of Poitiers
  7. Toulouse 1 Capitole University
  8. Sorbonne University (SU)
  9. University of Nantes
  10. Paris Nanterre University
  11. University of Lorraine
  12. Sorbonne Paris North
  13. Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas University
  14. University of Grenoble (UGA)
  15. University of Limoges

Top 10 highest paying universities based on regional median net salary

  1. Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas University
  2. Claude Bernard Lyon 1 University
  3. Cergy Paris University
  4. Toulouse 1 Capitole University
  5. University of Evry-Val-d’Essonne
  6. Hauts-de-France Polytechnic University
  7. Paul Sabatier University – Toulouse 3
  8. UVSQ University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
  9. Rennes 1 University
  10. Gustave Eiffel University (ex- UPEM)
  11. University of Haute Alsace – UHA


Top 10 best universities in research (number of publications)

  1. Sorbonne University
  2. University of Paris
  3. Paris Saclay University
  4. Claude Bernard Lyon 1 University
  5. Aix Marseille University
  6. Grenoble Alpes University
  7. Toulouse 3 Paul Sabatier University
  8. University of Montpellier
  9. University of Bordeaux
  10. University of Lille

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