After suspending visas for artists, France is now doing the same for students from Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, citing the closure of French consular services in the countries as making their delivery impossible.
New visas for students coming from the three countries will not be issued, the foreign ministry told AFP on Saturday, adding that those students, researchers and artists already in France "are welcome", and will be able to continue their activities and keep their funding.
Campus France, the agency that promotes French higher education abroad and helps foreign students in France said that scholarships awarded to students from the three countries who are already in France will "stay active".
France's research and higher education minister said that visa services would be suspended for security reasons, but that existing cooperation with universities and other scientific establishments would not be interrupted.
Some 6,700 students are currently in France, including 3,000 from Mali, 2,500 from Burkina Faso and 1,200 from Niger.
The foreign ministry "never gave instructions to suspend cooperation with Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, or its citizens. It is France's cooperation with these three countries that is suspended, given the security and political context," the ministry said in response to criticism that it had effectively boycotted artists by suspending their visas.
A few days after the coup in Niger, France suspended its cooperation with the country on 29 July and with Burkina Faso on 6 August. A similar decision was made in regards to Mali in November 2022.