When the time comes to choose where to pursue their postsecondary education, students, their parents and those who support them consider a wide range of factors, such as the type of training offered, available services or financial assistance. What if the language of instruction was included in these factors? Many postsecondary institutions across Canada provide French language training programs, placing their students’ success at the very core of their mission. Getting to know them better is an effective way of grasping all of the benefits associated with studying in French.
Postsecondary institutions in the Francophone minority context
The Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne (ACUFC) brings together 22 postsecondary institutions that provide French-language training in minority settings, outside of Québec. They offer more than 1,200 programs in some fifty training locations spanning eight Canadian provinces. ACUFC members propose a variety of learning contexts: colleges, universities and programs enhanced by mutual articulation agreements, small and larger institutions, rural and urban living environments. Without question, several profiles within the student population will find a learning setting that meets their aspirations.
In addition, colleges and universities play a pivotal role within the Francophone communities where they are located, which brings a unique complexion to their training pathway and student experience. They are vital spaces that foster creativity and togetherness. Through their research, they deepen our understanding of the realities and challenges in Francophone communities. They embody the country’s linguistic duality by training a workforce that masters French and English, which is sought after in the labour market. This pivotal role often translates into paths marked by experiential learning, connected to the community, its organizations, businesses as well as public and private institutions.
Postsecondary institutions in Francophone contexts propose fertile learning environments that stand out and gain from being better known. The pursuit of postsecondary studies in French certainly has several distinct benefits.
Five reasons for pursuing postsecondary studies in French
There are many benefits to pursuing postsecondary studies in French, which are often overlooked. They could definitely encourage students, parents and those who support them to seriously consider training delivered by ACUFC member institutions.
- French proficiency as added value in the labour market
Many of the best employers in Canada operate in bilingual contexts. Francophone institutions are ideally positioned to ensure that their student population acquires a technical and professional vocabulary in French. In fact, it is a strategic option for any individual who wishes to rely on linguistic competencies to stand out in the labour market. In this regard, employers need to be alerted, so they understand that graduates from Francophone postsecondary institutions represent a promising recruitment pool.
- A key to a flourishing professional and personal life
According to Statistics Canada, a person who wishes to work in French after graduation is more likely to do so if their diploma was obtained from a Francophone or bilingual college or university. Students who aspire to work in French must be made aware of this dynamic. A study from the Conference Board of Canada reveals that the average income among bilingual individuals is higher than that of unilingual individuals. In addition, postsecondary studies in French promote sustainable bilingualism that will be maintained over time. Therefore, it is in the best interest of a person to acquire skills in both of Canada’s official languages.
- More personalized learning paths
The “human scale” of most ACUFC member institutions means that it is easier for the student population to shape more personalized learning paths. For instance, smaller cohorts allow students to build closer relationships with the institutional staff and teachers. The range of services provided and organized events foster inclusion, integration and the development of a sense of belonging. Programs are even designed and adjusted so as to account for the specific reality of the student population and local community. As a result, human scale postsecondary institutions enjoy an agility that leads them to listen to the student population, which is a substantial asset.
- A diversified student population
ACUFC members institutions are attended by a student population that comes from the four corners of the country and across international borders, especially from African and European Francophone countries. This engagement with the Canadian and international Francophonie can be invaluable for those who seek professional mobility within Canada or abroad. It also leads to discovering all that the Francophonie has to offer, while nurturing an open and curious mindset towards cultures and accents that compose its nature. Undoubtedly, the profile of the student population in Francophone and bilingual institutions is quite different from that of Anglophone institutions.
- Incentives that encourage French-language studies
Francophone postsecondary institutions offer a whole range of specific incentives that may be of interest to students and their parents. For example, some institutions award entrance scholarships or reduced tuition fees in disciplines affected by labour shortages.
In addition to these measures, the ACUFC administers the Bursaries for Postsecondary Studies in French as a Second Language Program, funded by the Government of Canada. It aims to encourage young Canadians whose first official language spoken is English to pursue their postsecondary studies in French. Each year, 850 non-renewable bursaries of $3,000 each are made available to students who enter a postsecondary program in French in some twenty participating institutions, and wish to perfect their bilingualism in a quality environment where they can live in French. Recipients have attested to the positive impact of the bursary on their journey. A number of them noted the opportunity to improve their linguistic skills in French alongside their colleagues and professors. Others highlighted the richness of contacts made with Francophones from wide-ranging backgrounds, as well as their experiences within Francophone communities. Most importantly, several recipients identified the bursary as a decisive factor in choosing to pursue postsecondary studies in French.
Discover ACUFC members
Motivations for pursuing postsecondary studies in French are multiple, as are opportunities to do so. It is generally understood that a workforce that masters French is sought after in the labour market. In this context, it is all the more sensible to consider programs offered by postsecondary institutions in Francophone minority settings that allow for acquiring and maintaining a sustainable level of French and English bilingualism. Indeed, postsecondary studies in French is a winning choice.
For more information about postsecondary institutions in Francophone minority settings and what they have to offer, the ACUFC website is a valuable resource. Among other facts, you will find the list of member institutions and their flagship programs, as well as details related to eligibility to the Bursaries for Postsecondary Studies in French as a Second Language and to postsecondary entities that offer the bursary. You are invited to follow the ACUFC activities on social networks Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Content written by the Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne