By Sean Coughlan -BBC News education correspondent
Imagine the chagrin of French universities whenever international rankings are published.
The top places are invariably filled with the US and UK academic powerhouses. And then coming up fast are the ambitious Asian universities.
But what about the French, with their centuries of scholarship and ancient institutions? There was a university in Paris before Oxford or Cambridge.
French universities are conspicuous by their absence. In the most recent QS World University Rankings there were none in the top 20 and only two in the top 100.