Switzerland is also famous for its banking system, renowned the world over, as well as for cheese and chocolate production!
Capital City: Bern, unofficial but de facto
Area Size: 41,285 square kilometres
Official Languages: French, German, Italian, and Romansh
Type of Government: Federal State with two legislative houses
Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)
Population: 8,647,000 (2020 estimate)
During Switzerland’s 2019-2020 academic year, 25.7 per cent of its 258,076 student population was made up of international students. That’s not a particularly high number. Acceptance to Swiss higher education institutions is rather competitive, but that doesn’t deter students from applying.
Read on to find out why Switzerland is one of the most sought after study destinations in the world.
Foreigners make up one-fifth of Switzerland’s entire population, making it one of the most diverse countries in the world. The country is used to welcoming expats, international students, and other visitors.
Its location in the heart of Europe also makes it a strategic choice for headquarters for many multinational companies and organizations. In fact, many United Nations offices call this gorgeous country home.
Diversity in Switzerland is also reflected in its four official languages. Aside from those four, a tenth of its population also speaks other languages including Croatian, Serbian, Portuguese, Spanish, etc. It’s not uncommon to hear several different accents and languages when out in public.
Switzerland consistently ranks high for safety, security and stability in studies and surveys conducted by many different organizations.
Politically speaking, the country has famously maintained a position of neutrality since 1815. Its citizens have enjoyed uninterrupted stability longer than most in the world, which informs its peace-loving culture.
Switzerland’s education system is simply one of the best in the world. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any other study abroad destination that can match Switzerland's reputation for quality education, excellence in research, and teaching quality.
One indicator of Switzerland’s pursuit for excellence that shapes its students is the number of Nobel Prize winners that the country produces. Many Nobel Prize winners are the product of Swiss education.
Also, Swiss educational institutions consistently place high in different global rankings for schools.
The advantages of a Swiss education are manifold. In addition to Switzerland’s reputation for academic excellence, living there also opens up a world of opportunity for international students and, if played right, it can have a huge impact on their future career.
They will gain access to a prestigious and well-connected network spanning many different industries and different countries. It will increase their desirability and visibility in the global labour market. In fact, apart from their chosen school’s academic credentials, this is one of the reasons why Switzerland remains a top pick for international students.
Switzerland’s quality of life is one of the highest in the world. When it comes to salary, health care, level of education, housing, and many other quality of life indicators, Swiss cities tick the boxes on all of them. It’s no wonder many people dream of working or migrating to Switzerland.
Below are some fast facts about Switzerland’s educational institutions and opportunities:
One of the best things about studying in Switzerland is the opportunity to work while studying. Not all host countries allow this. However, some criteria and conditions differ between the European Union (EU) and (European Free Trade Association (EFTA) students and non-EU/EFTA students.
|EU/EFTA students||Non-EU/EFTA students|
|Work Hours||Can work 15 hours a week and full time during the semester holidays||Can work 15 hours a week and full time during the semester holidays|
|Work Authorisation||Can start working as soon as they arrive in Switzerland||Can only start working six months after arriving in Switzerland|
Students who are planning to work while studying will need to inform their schools and apply for the necessary paperwork.
International students seeking internship opportunities may check job portals or ask their school for referrals. Interns are protected by Swiss law and enjoy the same rights as permanent employees.
One of the best ways to assimilate quickly into Swiss life is to take full advantage of the pleasures the country has to offer. This includes sports, especially outdoor sports.
Sports are an essential part of Swiss life. There is football, mountaineering, soccer, tennis, basketball, swimming, sailing, ice hockey, and fishing. Cycling, running, and trekking are also popular outdoor activities.
But the sport which Switzerland is most known for is skiing! The country is home to the world’s most beautiful slopes and ski resorts.
If you’re not into sports, you can still enjoy Switzerland’s beautiful outdoors at a more leisurely pace. It has the most scenic lakes and parks in the whole world.
Students planning to study in Switzerland should directly apply to the institution of their choice as the country does not offer a centralised admission system. Requirements and visa processes also differ between EU/EFTA students and non-EU/EFTA students. However, at the minimum, students should have the following depending on the degree level they are applying to:
To legally stay and study in Switzerland, students need to apply for either a visa or a residence permit. The need depends on the student’s country of origin, or if they’re from an EU/EFTA country or not. EU/EFTA citizens only need to apply for a residence permit, while non-EU/EFTA need to apply for a visa.
Below are the criteria and requirements needed to apply for a visa or a residence permit:
Residence permit for EU/EFTA students:
Visa for non-EU/EFTA students. They may apply at the Swiss embassy or consulate in their home country.
Tuition fees in Switzerland are surprisingly relatively lower compared with most European countries. The fees vary depending on the institution and the programme, but in most universities, students will only have to pay between CHF 500 to CHF 2,000 per semester. This is mainly because of the Swiss’ belief that education should be accessible to anyone if they choose to pursue it.
Switzerland ranks as one of the countries with the highest standards of living worldwide, thus it is not surprising that the cost of living there is higher than in other countries. International students can save money by using the International Student Identity Card.
To better prepare for living in Switzerland, especially when it comes to budgeting, below are the average monthly costs per necessity.
|Type of Expense||Average Cost for International Students|
|Communication (phone and internet)||CHF 150|
Switzerland offers numerous financial assistance for international students who dream of studying in the country. Students can apply for scholarships or other funding assistance through the Swiss government and non-governmental organisations, as well as from the educational institution of their choice.
Most Swiss scholarships are part of the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and other governments, or are specific to educational institutions.
Some of the more prominent scholarships offered by Switzerland are the following:
As mentioned, Switzerland’s schools and education system is among the best in the world. The government actively promotes international education and is generous when it comes to awarding scholarships to deserving students.