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There are twelve public universities in Switzerland, including the two federal technical universities in Zurich and Lausanne, which are among the world's leading universities in their field.

This content was published on June 30, 2017 - 1:43 pm

In addition to the 12 universitiesExterner Link, 7 universities of applied sciences and over a dozen pedagogical universitiesExterner Link round off the state's public higher education systemExterner Link.

The institute universitaire de hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID) in Geneva, the Institut de hautes études en administration publique (IDHEAP) in Lausanne, the Institut universitaire Kurt Bösch (IUKB) in Sion and the private foundation are also considered institutions with a university character for distance learning in Brig.

International position

On the Ranking ForumExterner Link website operated by the State Secretariat for Education and Research and the Swiss universities, you will find the rankings of Swiss universities on relevant international rankings (reviews such as the "Times World University Rankings") and further background information such as information on development and Methods of rankings.

Compared to the USA or Great Britain, studying at a university in Switzerland, as in Germany, is still relatively cheap, as the education system is largely publicly funded. In the basic course, the lectures are usually held in the local language (depending on the region, German, French or Italian). Today, however, English can be found more and more from the master’s level onwards.

Further information on studying in Switzerland can be found on the website of the Rectors' Conference of Swiss Universities External Link.

Switzerland is also home to some of the best and most expensive private schools in the world, from kindergarten to university age. You can find more information on the more than 240 schools at the Association of Swiss Private Schools External Link.

The official Swiss portal ch.chExterner Link also offers a compilation of information on the subject of universities.

Conditions of admission

The individual institutions (university, technical college, etc.) are responsible for providing information about admission to study or further training in Switzerland. Further information and contact addresses can be found at:

Rectors' Conference of Swiss UniversitiesExternal Link

languages: Foreign students who want to complete a basic course in Switzerland must be able to prove that they have a good knowledge of the language of instruction. Language tests usually take place twice a year, in June and August / September.

Universities of applied sciences

The basic requirement for admission to a university of applied sciences is proof of at least one year of professional experience in the field of the chosen course of study and a diploma from the secondary school. Anyone who has an educational qualification from abroad and can demonstrate at least three years of training at upper secondary level is usually invited to an entrance examination. Under certain circumstances, admission can also take place without an entrance examination. The universities of applied sciences base their recognition of comparable diplomas on the decisions of the Swiss universities.

A list of all universities of applied sciences can be found on the website of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).

You can also find information on the universities of applied sciences on the educational server EducaExternal link.

Bachelor degree

Swiss universities require students from abroad to have an ID with which they can generally start university studies in their home country and which corresponds to a federally recognized Matura certificate (Abitur). See also "Recognition of Diplomas" below. The individual universities decide for themselves which ID cards they accept. You can make the recording dependent on further specifications.

The website of the Rectors' Conference of Swiss Universities provides more information on the country-specific admission requirementsExternal Link and a list of the registration deadlines for the individual universitiesExternal Link (pdf).

master's degree

The basic requirement for access to a Master’s degree is a completed Bachelor’s degree. The study programs from which students are admitted to master’s programs can be found on the website studyprogrammes.chExternal Link.

It is up to the individual universities to decide whether a bachelor's degree from abroad is recognized and is sufficient for entry without an examination, or whether other requirements apply. They should therefore be contacted directly (address list of the universities external link).

tuition fee

As in Germany, the universities in Switzerland are largely financed with public funds (cantons and federal government). The tuition fees are relatively cheap compared to countries like the USA or Great Britain.

They vary depending on the university external link and are generally between 1000 and 1500 francs per academic year, so they are roughly comparable to the fees in Baden-Württemberg or Bavaria. The fees at the universities of Freiburg, Lucerne, Neuchâtel, St. Gallen, Zurich and Lugano in Ticino are noticeably more expensive.

At most universities, foreign students do not have to pay more or only a little more than local students. Here, too, the University of Lugano is an exception: foreign students pay twice as much there.

The cost of living, which is very high in Switzerland, is between 20,000 and 30,000 francs per year, depending on the place of study and personal requirements. Compilations from the University of FreiburgExterner Link and the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH) External Link come to very different results; especially because the city of Zurich is one of the most expensive in the world.

Grants

Via the Federal Scholarship Commission for Foreign StudentsExterner Link (ESKAS), Switzerland grants foreign students from numerous countries, including the neighboring countries Germany, Austria and Italy, but also countries such as the USA, China or India, scholarships for studying at one of the Swiss universities, at the federal technical colleges, at conservatories or art colleges (art scholarship) as well as at selected universities of applied sciences.

The grants are usually around 1900 francs per month. Information on the countries of origin that come into question and details of the other requirements, the application process, etc. can be found on the website of the State Secretariat for EducationExternal Link.

It also coordinates and finances the Federal Excellence ScholarshipsExterner Link, which the Swiss Confederation makes available to foreign students in the fields of research and art.

The national agency MovetiaExterner Link supports, promotes and enables exchange and mobility in the field of formal, non-formal and informal education.

Various Swiss universities also have their own scholarship programs. The mobility offices of the Swiss universitiesExterner Link can help clarify which Swiss universities grant foreign students scholarships. Another possibility is direct contact with the individual universities. You can find lists of universities on the website of the Rectors' Conference of Swiss Universities External Link.

Exchange programs

In 2010, Switzerland signed a comprehensive bilateral agreement on cooperation in the education sector with the European Union. It came into force on January 1, 2011. The EU education and youth programs aim to improve supply and mobility in education and training.

One of the EU programs in the higher education sector in which Switzerland will be fully involved from the autumn semester 2011 is "Erasmus" Externer Link. For years, Switzerland has been indirectly involved in the Erasmus program, which has built up a network of universities that enables students to exchange semesters.

The European Commission has suspended negotiations on "Erasmus plus" and other research programs based on the result of the vote on February 9, 2014 on the "Mass Immigration Initiative".

The website of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and InnovationExterner Link (SERI) provides information on the current status of the negotiations on the Erasmus program.

In addition to the Erasmus exchange programs, there are individual partnerships between one or more universities. Further information from the mobility offices of the Swiss universities external link.

Via the Federal Scholarship Commission for Foreign Students (ESKAS) Externer Link, Switzerland grants foreign researchers various types of postgraduate scholarships.

Most Swiss universities also have exchange programs with partner universities outside EuropeExternal Link, including the USA. Further information from the mobility offices of the Swiss universities external link.

As part of the renowned Fulbright program (English) Externer Link, talented students from the USA and Switzerland receive scholarships to study in Switzerland and the USA respectively. The program is financed by public and private funds. Additional information is available on the website of the US Embassy in Bern, external link.

Recognition of diplomas and certificates

The Swiss authorities recognize various educational cards, diplomas and certificates from numerous schools and educational institutions around the world.

On the website of the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities you will find specific information on the ID cards recognized by the Swiss education authoritiesExternal link and specific information on the admission requirements for the individual home countriesExternal link for foreign students.

Residence permits

EU / EFTA nationals:

Students from the EU / EFTA area must register with the local authorities at their place of residence within 14 days of arriving in Switzerland and apply for a residence permit.

To do this, they have to prove that they have taken out health insurance and that they can support themselves. And they have to prove that they are actually here to study and have enrolled at a recognized university or college. The residence permit is usually issued for the duration of the program and is extended by one year until the end of the course, depending on the student's situation.

Students are allowed to work, but not more than 15 hours per week. Otherwise they are considered to be gainfully employed and need an appropriate permit. The spouse of a student and their dependent children may also live in Switzerland. Family members are also allowed to work. However, the student must be able to prove that he has sufficient financial means to support family members. This also includes enough living space.

On the official Swiss portal ch.ch you will find a list with addresses of the cantonal authoritiesExternal Link and a list of the communal authoritiesExternal Link.

Citizens from third countries:

Students who do not come from the EU / EFTA area (third countries) must enclose a plan for the study visit with their application stating the educational goal (Matura, Bachelor, Master, etc.). In addition, you need a written confirmation from the educational institution that you can attend classes and have the necessary language skills.

Students from countries with a visa requirement must also apply to the Swiss embassy or consular representation responsible for their home country. This must be accompanied by a confirmation of admission from the educational institution, a confirmation that the school fees have been paid and sufficient financial means are available to support yourself, as well as a written obligation to leave the country and a curriculum vitae. The Swiss representation clarifies whether the applicant has sufficient language skills to attend school.

The cantons are responsible for issuing the residence permit. Detailed information on the formalities (where to apply for what, which forms to fill out, how long does it take, etc.) are available from the competent authorities of the cantons. You can find a list of addresses at the State Secretariat for MigrationExternal link.

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