Managing international student academic disputes

in the postgraduate programs of French business schools



By Quan Sheng

SKEMA Business School

Paris, France



With the internationalization of French business schools, there are more and more contract disputes about international students. It’s a problem for both the school and the students. Then I decided to do this research in order to find a feasible solution to this problem. Eventually, I found some good practices and analyzed them by some methods such as literature review and Pareto analysis. And through this research, I got some lessons learned about the contract dispute resolution.

KEYWORDS: contract disputes, international student, education field, identify causes, dispute resolution, good practices


Since the late twentieth century, the postgraduate education in France has become more and more international with the trend of globalization.

Many famous French business schools, like some major globally ranked business school in France, started to give class by English, hire English-speaking professors and set up many campuses in various parts of the world. It is leading more and more international students to choose the postgraduate program of French business school. Statistically, forty percent students of French business school are not from France.

With the increase in the number of international students, international student academic complaints and disputes have become a prominent issue. For foreign students, academic complaints and disputes are more likely to happen and harder to resolve. There are some reasons like different laws in different countries, cultural difference, cultural conflict, and language barrier.

In France, the relationship between student and business school is different with a traditional university. There is a formal contract between student and business school about the postgraduate program. The student is more like a client and a contract owner; business school is more like a company and a contractor. So, the conflicts between school and international student are contract disputes rather than complaints from students.

As an international postgraduate student of a French business school, I often receive complaints from my international schoolmates and I also have met some disputes with school. Comparing students who have French nationality, international students are more difficult to identify causes and resolve academic disputes. So, I think I want to help those international students who have a problem in managing academic disputes and offer some good recommendations to French business school through this research.

The disputes are presented as unfair treatment and complaint. After my preliminary investigation, I found three main types of these disputes:

  1. The contract does not specify the regulations on changing majors and changing campuses.

For example: In some school, Chinese students cannot choose China campus. And some campuses cannot be selected for some majors.

  1. Regulations about Make-up examination and retake course are lack of clarity in the contract. The forms of Make-up examination and retake course is mainly decided by teachers, it could bring some problems to students to do the schedule.
  2. Misunderstanding of regulations because of the language barrier.

For example: As the sponsor of the postgraduate program, many parents cannot read English or French. It could make them misunderstand the contract.


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Editor’s note: Student papers are authored by graduate or undergraduate students based on coursework at accredited universities or training programs.  This paper was prepared as a deliverable for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director [email protected].

About the Author


Paris, France


Quan Sheng
is a MSc student in SKEMA Business School, majoring in Project and Programme Management & Business Development (PPMBD). He graduated from Dalian University of Technology, China and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering. He lives in Paris, France now, and can be contacted at [email protected].