Funding for French Scientists to Go Abroad


Few sectors value international work experience as much as the research sector does. Yet you may find that although finding a host institution abroad is easy enough, securing the cash that will allow you to live and work there may be a whole different matter. Successful expatriation often comes down to knowing which pots of money you may tap into. Major European organisations are the first port of call for European scientists, but there also are many country-specific resources that may well turn out to be your passport to a Ph.D. or a postdoc in your new country. Next Wave gives would-be globetrotters in France a head start in their international scientific career by providing information on some funding resources.

You may want to start your search for cash with the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The government has started the Programme des Boursiers Français à l´Etranger to enable French students to study or do research at a foreign institution. It encompasses two funding mechanisms, the Bourses Lavoisier and the Bourses Bilatérales, both managed by the Egide agency on behalf of the government.

With a Lavoisier bursary , you may go to any country in the world to study and to carry out predoctoral or postdoctoral research. The bursary aims to support you for a duration ranging from 5 to 10 consecutive months for most locations; scientists studying and working in Japan can win support for up to 18 months. If you are applying in the context of a Ph.D. in co-tutelle (see more information below), you may visit your second host institution for up to 18 nonconsecutive months.

  • Funding: It ranges from €305 to €1524 a month (depending on the country of destination). Those going to Japan receive up to €2744, as well as €1829 toward moving expenses and €1200 for a return flight. Those going to Brazil will receive, in addition to their monthly bursary, an allocation of €1525 toward moving expenses and a return ticket.

  • Who may apply: Ph.D. students and postdocs with fewer than 2 years of experience in any scientific discipline may apply. If you are going to Japan or Brazil, a Diplome d'Etudes Approfondies (DEA) or equivalent will be sufficient. In all cases, you must be a French or European citizen who has pursued all of your higher education in France and be under 35 years old.

  • Next deadline for applications: 14 March 2005 for all countries, with the exception of Japan (31 January 2005).

It may also be possible for you to combine your Bursary Lavoisier with a Citére Convention , by which a French company will provide additional financial support.

  • Funding: This bursary can be €4573 to €12,196 for a period of 5 to 12 months (18 for Japan), depending on local living costs.

  • Who may apply: Students with an engineering diploma from a Grande Ecole, a DEA, or equivalent are eligible. While abroad, you must be pursuing a master's degree.

  • Next deadline for applications: 14 March 2005.

With one of the Bourses Bilatérales , which is made available through specific agreements between France and another country, you may work or study at a foreign institution for a period of 1 to 12 months.

  • Funding: It varies, depending on the partner country.

  • Who may apply: Eligibility criteria may vary by partner country. However, as a general rule, you must be a French national, have at least a master's degree, and be under 35 years old.

  • Next deadline for applications: Check out what programmes are available for your destination of choice, using the database on the Egide Web site ( It will provide specific information for each programme, including the deadline for applications.

If you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. abroad, a good alternative would be to do a co-tutelle de these . This allows you to do your Ph.D. both within a French institution and at another one abroad, with the added bonus of gaining two diplomas (or a joint one) in one go.

  • Funding: A maximum of €5100 will be given to your institution toward your mobility. This amount is for the duration of your Ph.D.

  • Who may apply: You may be in any discipline but must be in your first year. A French supervisor or principal investigator must apply on your behalf.

  • Next deadline for applications: Keep an eye on the 2005 call for applications on the Web site of the French Research Ministry.

If you are looking into shorter stays abroad, you may want to apply for a bursary of the Programme d´Actions Intégrées . Within the context of a collaboration between your research group in France and researchers in another country, you may receive an allowance toward your fare ticket and your living expenses abroad. Ph.D. students and other early-career scientists are particularly encouraged to participate. The bursary will cover a period of 2 years and may be renewed once. Consult the Egide Web site to check the deadline for your country of interest.

A few scientific organisations have special programs to support staff members intending to work abroad. National research organisations such as the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique ( CNRS) and the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale ( INSERM) both offer opportunities to their staffs.

The CNRS Web site contains a listing of research collaborations and specific opportunities for each CNRS partner country. If you're working at INSERM, you may go abroad under bilateral cooperation programmes or expatriate yourself for up to 1 year with INSERM while maintaining your salary.

All of these programs will allow you to go pretty much anywhere in the world, but if you're interested in another French-speaking country, I'd recommend checking out the opportunities offered by the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF). Part of the purpose of AUF is to offer students and researchers the means to travel to and work in a foreign AUF institution in one of more than 35 countries. Scientists from the North are encouraged to move to a Southern country that may be less privileged, and AUF is particularly keen to promote the participation of women. There are three types of bursaries:

A Bourse de Formation Initiale will allow you to pursue their studies abroad for a maximum of 10 months.

  • Who may apply: You may have a licence or maîtrise and in this case be under 30 years old. You may otherwise have a DEA or equivalent and be under 40 years old.

With a Bourse de Formation á la Recherche , you will be able to spend a period of 3 to 7 months abroad. However, the bursary will last for the academic year of 10 months, and it can be renewed twice.

  • Who may apply: You must be currently carrying out your Ph.D. in an AUF university and must alternate periods of research (from 3 to 7 months) in each country. You must also be under 40 years old.

A last option in this programme is the Bourse de Perfectionnement en Recherche , which will allow you to spend a period of 6 to 10 months abroad.

  • Who may apply: You must be a final-year Ph.D. student or have had your Ph.D. in the last 5 years, and you must be under 45 years old.

For all three bursaries:

  • Funding: The bursary may include a monthly allowance toward living expenses and a moving allowance, the amount of which will depend upon the cost of living of the host country. You may also receive the benefit of a return trip and free medical insurance. If applicable, you will be exempted from tuition fees.

  • Next Deadline for Applications: 14 January 2005.

If the destination you've got in mind is yet more specific, it would be wise to look for national organisations that have specific agreements with France.

For example, the Fulbright Commission offers a bursary in partnership with the French regions of Aquitaine and Nord-Pas-de-Calais. It will allow you to carry out a research project for 6 to 12 months.

  • Funding: $2000 per month for 6 to 10 months.

  • Who may apply: You must be French or from a European country; in any case, you must be based in the corresponding region. Your scientific discipline must be one of those specified in the programme.

An alternative is in the Fulbright Bursaries for Interdisciplinary Research, which welcome applications from all disciplines.

  • Funding: $2000 per month for 3 to 6 months plus travel allowance.

  • Who may apply: French or European citizens with a doctorate and preferably 5 years of postdoctoral experience.

These come in very small numbers, but you can also apply jointly for other bursaries that the commission is managing on behalf of other associations.

  • Deadline for all applications: 15 January 2005.

If you are considering moving to Germany, the German Deutscher Akademischer Austauch Dienst ( DAAD) offers many programmes to facilitate the exchange of Ph.D. students and postdocs with those at foreign universities. These can be for a study or research period of 1 to 10 months (see bursaries for short and long-term visits) or might allow you to carry out your Ph.D. or an entire postdoctoral project (see DAAD-Leibniz and Helmholtz-DAAD bursaries). For specific eligibility criteria and deadlines, click on the DAAD Web site in France.

Once you've started looking around, you will realise that there are many potential sources of funding. They may be specific to your institution, your region, your country of choice, or within the remit of national and international programmes. The art of securing funding may boil down to the ability to track down the organisations most likely to be interested in your research proposal and then juggle different deadlines.

By no means should your search stop there! Your next port of call should be the Web site of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which will point you in the direction of more funding sources. Good luck!

For All of You in Europe: Where to Look for More

EC Socrates--Erasmus Programme

EC Marie Curie Actions

EC Researchers' Mobility Portal

European Science Foundation

Federation of European Biochemical Societies

Human Frontier Science Program

EMBO's Life Sciences Mobility Portal

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