University in France is very cheap compared to the UK. Fees are only 500-600 euros per year. At the end of the first year there is an exam. Those who fail it either have to leave or start the year again. About 15% of youngsters give up at that point. There are grants of 100-200 euros per month depending on your family situation. If you fail the exams and quit, the money has to be paid back. That seems to be a good motivational idea. Lecturers really are lecturers with hundreds of students in front of them taking notes especially in the first year. There is very little interaction with the professors.