An Irish teacher has been killed in a stabbing incident at a university in the Paris suburbs.

The 66-year-old was stabbed repeatedly in front of the private Pôle Universitaire Léonard de Vinci in Courbevoie, northwest of Paris.

A police source said that the suspect was a former student at the university who was born in Pakistan in 1981.

"It's a tragedy that has struck the whole community. This was a language teacher who had been here for 20 years and was respected by everyone," the university's director Pascal Brouaye told reporters.

A source close to the investigation said the teacher was stabbed 13 times, including in the throat.

He was pronounced dead at 12.35pm, and a knife was found at the scene.

The suspect was arrested after the incident.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told RTÉ News that it was aware of the case and was providing consular assistance.

Sebastien Tran, director of the management school where the suspect had enrolled in 2016, said he had been kicked out in August 2017 for failing the year.

Forensic police could be seen in front of the university in the early afternoon, where a white tent stood over the scene of the killing.

"It's heartbreaking. We still can't believe it," said Stephen Amoah, a 28-year-old student from Ghana.

His classmate Jad Sharif, a 33-year-old from Lebanon, described the murdered teacher as "very kind".

"We liked him more than most of our teachers," he added.

Students showed photographs of the teacher on their mobile phones, smiling and arm in arm with members of his class.

French minister for higher education Frédérique Vida paid tribute to the professor on Twitter and said an investigation was under way.

She expressed "deep shock" and offered her condolences to the staff and students at the university, as well as the family and loved ones of the victim.

Counselling services have been made available at the college for those traumatised by the incident.

Additional reporting: AFP