In November Suzanne, Lauren, Jo and Caroline made the now customary annual trip to France to participate in the Salon de l’éducation at the Porte de Versailles in Paris. We were invited by ONISEP (www.onisep.fr) which is France’s national organisation which has offices in every region of France to provide careers information to all French young people including those with special needs. “Le Salon” is the biggest careers fair in France and attracts over 500,000 visitors each year over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Le Salon provides an unbelievable array of stands from all the French universities and colleges as well as trade and military organisations. There are some incredible activities to join in with, such as using the latest technology or being a virtual stunt person as well as watching cookery, wheelchair basketball and dancing demonstrations to name but a few.
As Euroguidance UK we met hundreds of French students and their parents interested in coming to the United Kingdom to work or study. Despite the Gilets Jaunes protests on the Champs Elysées we welcomed hundreds of visitors to the United Kingdom stand and it was good to catch up with all our friends from France, Germany, Belgium and Spain.
We always encourage the French young people to speak English with us but often they are a little reserved – we try to explain that if they are serious about studying here they will have to get used to speaking, writing and reading in English!
Inevitably, there were many questions about Brexit – all we could say was that for anyone starting their studies in September 2019 they would be guaranteed the same terms and conditions for the duration of their course. However we were unable to say what would happen after that as it’s still unclear – even to British universities.
We also did a presentation and quiz in French about the United Kingdom’s university application system using a new online tool called Kahoot – this proved to be lots of fun with the audience of young people and their parents, some of which were surprised to find out they can study in Scotland for a fraction of the cost compared to the rest of the United Kingdom.
We returned home tired but happy in knowing that we had given our best to provide the citizens of France with an honest and accurate picture of what it is like to study here in the United Kingdom. Here’s to next year – Brexit allowing…