French courses for refugees

University Diploma (DU) French as a Foreign Language for Refugee Students
DU Passerelle – Etudiants en exil

Objectives of the university diploma

This diploma is aimed at non Francophones and offers an integration pathway with an educational focus on French as a foreign language.

The objective of this programme is to prepare students for French-taught courses at the university, ease their transition into life in France, and to provide a foundation for their career.

The programme consists of:

Candidate requirements

Those eligible for the programme:

Status of the candidates:

Required language level:

Education requirement of candidates:

How to apply

  1. Send your application form by e-mail to Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.. The due date for applying is fixed at 10 June 2019 for students wishing to enrol in the programme for 2019/2020.
    Download the application form
  2. If your application is preselected, you will be invited for an interview.
  3. If the interview goes well, the final step will be the French test.
  4. You will be notified of the final decision after this test.

Organisation of the University Diploma (DU)

The modules are designed for the academic year. The teaching is based on:

Linguistic support is guaranteed throughout the year by student tutors and volunteers, in order to promote social insertion and to avoid drop outs through the year in case of difficulties.

The academic structure allows the participants to gain the linguistic and learning skills required in order to access their desired university study progarmme.

The lessons take place five days a week for two semesters with 3-5 contact hours each day. The project workshops can be modularized.

Total hours

The total number of programme hours per student is 460 per year; this is necessary to ensure the target language acquisition is achieved (up to B1 or B2 depending on their initial level) founded upon the guidance of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CECRL). The initial placement test is to split the students into the one of the two groups that suits their language level.

Programme Calendar for 2019/2020 academic year

Submitting applications
by email 
Until 10 June 2019.
Interviews From 17 June to 5 July 2019.
placement test
Beginning of September 2019.
Semester 1 From mid-September to 22 December 2019.
Semester 2 From 6 January to 18 April 2020 with one week off for the winter holiday.


Registration and fees of the programme

Candidates accepted into the University Diploma programme will carry out their administrative registration through the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy and will be exempt from enrolment fees.


Useful information

Migrant student testimonies

Rabab, Syria

Rabab, an English language and literature graduate, arrived in France from Syria in 2013. Taking French courses at uB helped ease her transition into working life.

"For me, living in France wasn't a huge culture shock because I had already visited in the past, and I have two brothers living here. The biggest obstacle was the fact that I didn't speak the language. I was taking French classes with the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII), but they weren't enough to help me reach a good level. I had heard my Syrian friends say that the University of Burgundy offers French courses for refugees, and I was fortunate to sign up for this free learning programme launched by the International Office at the Language Centre in 2016/2017.

The courses were very useful because they led me to a new opportunity: after improving my language level, I underwent a training course as an import-export sales assistant so I could gain new skills in France. In my country, I worked for ten years as a teacher in an international school, and for seven years as a secretary at a German company in Damascus. Today, I'm working in another domain: I'm a receptionist at a hotel in Beaune. It's a permanent contract, and I love my job because it allows me to use my English skills, among other reasons.

Here in France, I spend time with Syrian friends, but I also have French friends and colleagues with whom things are going very well. I'm so lucky to live here. To have a second country is a gift beyond measure. I plan on returning to Syria, but only to visit. Now, my life is here.

I'm proud of the path I've taken, and by telling my story, I hope to inspire courage in others. As long as there is life, there is hope. At any moment in our lifetime, and despite all the misfortunes that may come to us, we can always start over if we keep our spirits high and refuse to let life pass us by without seizing a new opportunity."

Ibrahim, Sudan

"I was forced to leave my country in 2013 at the age of 23. I was studying physics and mathematics at a university in Khartoum, the capital. I was active in student organisations, and like many other organisations, our goal was to promote culture and current events in my region and in my hometown of Al-Qadarif. Political subjects weren't brought up often, but when entire villages started being ripped apart by bombings, we had no choice but to talk about them. However, the government doesn't like when people say such things in public, because even though you see what's happening, you're not supposed to say anything. We were reported for our remarks and put under surveillance. Then, the pressure and the threats began.

I had to quit my studies and flee to neighbouring Libya, where I worked in sales and construction. But because the situation in Libya was worsening, I was again forced to leave; however, I couldn't go back to my country. So, in 2016, I got on a boat with 200 other people and arrived in Sicily. I just wanted to find peace.

At first, my goal was to get to the United Kingdom because I had already mastered the English language, and because there are already a lot of Sudanese people there. But because it wasn't possible to cross the border in Calais, I decided to request asylum in Paris, where I was transferred to Dijon.
At first I was afraid because the French language seemed really hard, even though I found it very pretty. But, little by little, I improved and learned a lot. Today, I get along just fine and I don't regret having stayed in France. No language is easy to learn, but if you make an effort, you'll get there.

The courses I took at the University of Burgundy really helped me. Before starting the DU I was able to understand, but I had a hard time expressing myself. A social worker helped me apply for the programme, and I was accepted. It didn't just involve French courses, but also exchanges with student companions, who participated in various activities with us outside of the programme that helped us progress more rapidly.

In 2019/2020, I'll be entering the Electrical Engineering and Industrial Informatics programme at the Le Creusot campus. Because I want to change my field of study, I have to start from the beginning. I plan on continuing my studies up to the Master level. Afterwards, I would like to work here. France has done a lot for me, and now I want to do something for France, staying here to live and work.

I think I'm on the right path to integrating. I have Sudanese friends here, of course, but also French friends. The people I was in contact with in student organisations and staff at the University are very kind, and I thank them for all their help.

There will always be people who think that all refugees come only for economic reasons, but no one is happy to leave their country. It doesn't bring us pleasure to leave behind our family and friends. It's very difficult for us and we leave because we have no choice. If there were peace in Sudan, I would like to move back and reunite with my loved ones. It's been 6 years since I've seen my family, but I call them every Friday without fail. Fortunately, here in France, I'm surrounded by people who understand my situation and why I had to flee my country to live in a safer place."

Walaa, Syria

Walaa, who is from Syria, took French courses for refugees at the University of Burgundy in 2016/2017.

''After leaving Syria, I worked as an administrative agent at a school in Turkey for three years, which caused me to lose my knowledge of French despite having earned a bachelor in French literature in Syria. I really needed to improve my French level when I arrived in France, and the courses for refugees at the University of Burgundy really helped me. After the programme, I was able to begin a Master degree at uB designed for those who wish to teach French as a foreign language, from which I graduated in 2018.

Since leaving Syria, my story has been marked by both beautiful moments and low points alike.

I remember the moment I arrived at the French embassy in Istanbul to get my visa. Two completely different feelings washed over me: happiness, because I was finally going to leave Turkey, and fear, because I was entering the unknown, and even though I was already familiar with the French language and culture, I was worried about living alone in a foreign country.

As soon as my feet touched French soil at Charles de Gaulle Airport I wanted to cry and shout. I couldn't stop telling myself: I don't know this country, I don't know these faces, this language is so different than my own – everything is so different, and I'm so scared!

Despite it all, I knew deep down that every beginning is hard, and that sometimes life places big obstacles in our way that we must overcome alone. I don't know if I should say that it was because of or thanks to these eye-opening challenges that I became the person I am today.

Over time, I began to see the good side of things: I was safe in France and I no longer feared for my life. The months turned into years, and I think I was really lucky; firstly, because I gained refugee status very quickly, and secondly because I enrolled at the University. Today, in 2019, I have a real job teaching French as a foreign language.

I recently taught my first French class to three groups of 15 young foreign students, something I wouldn't have even dreamed of doing when I arrived in France three years ago. I strive to pass on everything I've learned about the French language and culture to my students while also helping them with administrative procedures, because I found myself in the same situation not long ago.

Now, I can say that my dreams have become a reality, and that wouldn't have been possible without hope. I always believed in myself and my dreams, and today, on the anniversary of my arrival in France, I want to say thank you to everyone who has been a part of my life for these last three years. I would also like to share a message with all people who are suffering: never give up and never feel powerless, because even if things are hard right now, you can still have a bright future.

Throughout these three years I learned a lot and changed a lot too, but three things will never change: I will always wish for my country to be free, I will always be grateful to France for everything it has done for me, and I will always stay true to myself.''

Mahedine, Sudan

"I've been in France for two years. French courses at uB help me improve my language level. In my country, I received a degree in social affairs, and in the future I plan to get an equivalent degree from the University of Burgundy to use in France.

In this special programme for migrants, we attend mandatory theatre and radio workshops, but we can also choose others; for example, there are recycling workshops, as well as intercultural workshops that allow us to learn more about other cultures and the society we live in today.

Also, the organisation Aram organises activities and offers outings and events to help encourage the social and cultural integration of displaced students enrolled in this programme.

My favourite is the theatre workshop, which is led by a Romanian director who occasionally comes to France under an international cooperation agreement.

Soon, I hope to be able to start regular courses at the University of Burgundy because the goal of the refugee programme, among others, is to prepare us to continue our higher education studies so that we can successfully integrate afterwards."

Nawar, Syria

''I'm from the city of Hama, Syria. In 2011, I moved to the United Arab Emirates for work, and when I wanted to move back to Syria, it was no longer possible because of the war. In 2012, my wife joined me in the UAE where we got married so we could leave for Turkey together. I made it to France alone in 2015, and in March of 2016 my wife and my young daughter joined me.

I was granted political refugee status in France, and I had the chance to enrol in French courses for migrants at the University of Burgundy, which helped me improve my language level because I wanted to continue my higher education studies. One thing I found particularly valuable about the University of Burgundy's student refugee programme is how it pairs you with local students who become long-time friends.

To integrate, I just try as much as possible to have conversations with my French friends. Working and volunteering are also great ways to integrate into a society. I'm passionate about photography and I had the chance to work on different projects with the city of Dijon, the College of Political Science, and organisations like the Secours populaire and CIMADE. I share my photos on my Facebook page, Miroir d'expatrié sur la Bourgogne (Reflection of an Expatriate in Burgundy) and on Instagram. I also enjoy grape harvesting.

Last year, I completed professional training as an import-export sales assistant at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and today in 2019, I'm enrolled in a hospitality course and am completing an apprenticeship at a hotel in Dijon.

The thing that shocked me the most about France was the slow and cumbersome administrative processes. I'm pleasantly surprised by the democratic system that values human rights and freedoms.

Today, I feel that I am well-integrated in France and I'm happy. By continuing to perfect my language level, my situation can only improve from here on out.''