Public research in France takes place in two major centers of activity: public research organizations and universities. Most of the research is funded through the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, though other ministries -- such as the ministries of defense, health, and agriculture -- may also take part in the funding and organization of public research.
It is important to understand that universities are only one of the two major centers for this type of research activity. There are more than 30 public research entities which employ researchers in various fields. The most important of these is the Centre national de la recherche scientique, or CNRS, which employs 33,000 people and has a budget of over 3 billion euros. The CNRS supports research in all fields, with an emphasis on excellence: CNRS appointments are highly competitive.

Public money also supports universities, which employ researchers who may also have teaching duties. Researchers and research activities at the university are organized into various administrative structures: you may see unités mixtes de recherche, équipes d’accueil, instituts féderatifs de recherche, etc. University personnel and other public researchers often cooperate, and many laboratoires – research structures which are tied to the university -- are collaborations between personnel from these various entities.

Public structures are also responsible for the evaluation of both research and higher education, and for national strategies and priorities in research.

Updated on July 11, 2016