Tuesday, July 22, 2014

University Registration à la Française

The French administration system is world renowned, its reputation having spread far and wide thanks to foreigners moaning to those at home about their dealings with it.

I've had my fair share of run-ins with it, but not as many as those who dare to start a business. I toyed with the idea back in 1990, and ran away, aghast at the true horror and expense, of starting something I just wanted to do to make a bit of pocket money. This was pre-AutoEntrepreneur days and you needed a capital of 50,000FF which I didn't have and didn't need to try and flog a few Provençal print shopping bags that I made from waxed cotton material bought locally. The paperwork had to be seen to be believed, and the hovering rapacious jaws of URSSAF (Unions de recouvrement des cotisations de sécurité sociale et d'allocations familiales) terrified the living daylights out of me. Richard Branson I am not.

Yesterday, my eldest and I were embroiled in the continuing saga of his university application. I had been nagging him to get onto the Admission Post-Bac website to see what had to be done and note the deadline. He saw that university inscription started on July 7, but didn't really take note of when it finished. Over the weekend, he had a funny feeling, logged back in on Sunday evening and saw that the deadline was Wednesday July 23.

He didn't tell me until he saw me again yesterday lunch time (Monday... tick, tick, tick). We got down to it when I got in from work. Naturally, there was a long list of papers to provide, including some which needed Googling to understand what they were. When I was typing the search, the automatic feature brought up the one I needed instantly, showing that we were not the only ones flummoxed by certain requirements! We were particularly intrigued by what could possibly be

  • Fiche d’inscription pédagogique dûment complétée (Déclaration d’examen 2014/2015)
  • Récapitulatif demande inscription Primo web 
  • Notification APB (original + photocopie) 

Here's the full list for the Law Faculty:

Pour tous les étudiants (all students):

  • Titre de paiement (chèque, carte bleue, mandat cash) (Cost for the year €189.10!)
  •  Carte Identité (original+copie) (or passport)
  •  Attestation d’affiliation sécurité datée de moins de trois mois (Secu membership)
  •  Immatriculation sécurité sociale N° personnel ou carte vitale (original+copie) (carte vitale)
  •  Photo d’identité 
  •  Attestation responsabilité civile datée de moins de trois mois (personal liability insurance)
  •  Fiche d’inscription pédagogique dûment complétée (Déclaration d’examen 2014/2015) ?? (discovered to be another certificate)

 Pour les néo bacheliers (freshers) :

  • Relevé des notes du baccalauréat avec le n° INE (original + photocopie) (Bac marks)
  • Récapitulatif demande inscription Primo web ??
  • Notification APB (original + photocopie) ??
  • Attestation Journée Défense Citoyenneté (à défaut attestation recensement) (National Service Day certificate)

Pour les étudiants mineurs : autorisation d’inscription du ou des titulaires de l’autorité parentale (as a minor, he needs my permission to register at university)
Pour les étudiants qui auront moins de 20 ans le 30 septembre 2015 : 
Attestation datée de moins de deux mois de la couverture sociale des parents (my Secu membership as he's under 20) 

Not a bad list really. If he'd been a high level sportsman, a 'pupille de la nation' (whatever that is - orphan?) handicapped, grant receiver, employed, foreign or transferring from one university to another, there would have been even more paperwork to provide.

Luckily my printer had ink for all the copying and printing, and it took us about an hour and a half to get it all done, including filling in some crazy form on the internet to register (again) online. My eldest found out he could take an appointment to register in person (how many registrations do they need?) and he's going tomorrow lunch time. I'm not sure if I should go along and hang about outside (with my Kindle) in case of emergencies. We're bound to have got something wrong! Hopefully not though because:


  1. in 1990, and ran away, aghast at the true horror and expense, of starting something I just wanted to do to make a bit of pocket money. This was pre-AutoEntrepreneur days and you needed a capital of 50,000FF which I didn't have and didn't need to try and flog a few Provençal print shopping bags that I made from waxed cotton material bought locally. The paperwork..."

    Wowwow, just to make a bit of pocket money? It's keeping itself in the dark ages

    And the school forms, forms are the most stress inducing thing I can do, even looking at your list puts me into panic. Thank goodness kevin is a virgo (for his sins) and is good at this sort of thing - that's what I tell him and he does it all including sports sign up and taking care of volunteer hours for kids' sports and...oh it just goes on

    1. You had to be serious about starting a business in France back then. No shoe-shining, car-cleaning mini businesses were possible. It's a bit different now with the AutoEntrepreneur system where you don't need a massive initial capital. I've lost interest now though. :)

      I'm a virgo, but I must be on the butt end of the organised side because I'm not really. Mind you, I did manage to find all the papers we needed in that ninety minutes so I suppose that's pretty good! :)

  2. Isn't it fun? It took me a day and a half to get everything done for Bigfoot (we also had the University Residence paperwork to get done, which includes copying a mile of text by hand saying that we agree to cough up the rent if Bigfoot doesn't). The latter is now asking if I found take him to visit flats in the area because he doesn't like the look of the uni boarding. I've told him to get back to me once he's finished robbing the bank.

    1. I don't remember it being such a pain to sign up for uni in the UK and there weren't so many papers to provide.

      My son is going to share a flat with two mates which will make it affordable, with APL and the pension alimentaire de dads. That's the theory, anyway.

  3. It was all so simple when I went to the LSE...they gave you a place and a reading list and you turned up on the day....but that would never do for France, would it!

    1. I don't remember it being much more complicated when I went to Exeter. They certainly weren't fussed about social security numbers for all the family!

  4. Once Rory gets his results on August 14th, and hopefully gets in somewhere, I shall compare the procedure with your system. So far things have been straightforward but nothing is at crunch point yet.

    1. I'd be interested to know what the procedure is these days. Things have probably changed since we started at university.

  5. Like others, I don't remember anything remotely as complicated as this about applying for university entrance and once I'd got a place and applied for my grant all I needed to do was get the books and turn up. I expect it's a bit more complicated nowadays, but nothing ever seems as tortuous as in France.

    1. I really was gobsmacked by the paperwork. It was so stressful! Still, all done now thank goodness!

  6. Don't you just love paperwork? Where in the hell would this world be without it. Good luck to your son.

    1. Thanks DD. It's all starting up again in our search for a flat for him and his mates! The list of papers for that seems endless too.


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