Higher Education in Switzerland

Find out what makes each Swiss university unique, both Swiss- and worldwide.

2 Federal Institutes of Technology
Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne – EPFL
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich – ETHZ

10 Universities

Universität Basel
Universität Bern
Université de Fribourg
Université de Genève
Université de Lausanne
Universität Luzern
Université de Neuchâtel
Universität St. Gallen
Università della Svizzera italiana
Universität Zürich

9 Universities of Applied Sciences

Berner Fachhochschule, BFH
Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, FHNW
Fachhochschule Ostschweiz, FHO
Haute école spécialisée de Suisse occidentale, HES-SO
Hochschule Luzern, HSLU
Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana, SUPSI
Zürcher Fachhochschule, ZFH
Kalaidos Fachhochschule
Les Roches-Gruyère, University of Applied Sciences, LRG-UAS

10 Universities

2 Federal Institutes of Technology

Consistently ranked among the best universities of the world.

Combination of theory and practice: a Swiss success story
Every year, thousands of young people have to decide what they want to do once they have finished their compulsory education. Many in Switzerland choose the academic route – higher secondary school and a pre-university qualification (“Matura”). However, the majority opt for vocational education and training (VET). In Switzerland, this is a dual-track system whereby students attend classes at a VET school or college on a part-time basis, while the remaining time is spent doing an apprenticeship at a host company, allowing them to acquire on-the-job experience and practical skills. As David Crettenand, a former apprentice and now CEO of his own start-up RedElec Technologies explains, the vocational route produces individuals who “work with their hands, not just their heads”.

Learn more about the VET here: http://www.swissworld.org/en/know/innovation_switzerland/dual_vocational_training_a_swiss_success_story/

Switzerland is convinced of the long-term strategic importance of education and regards it as essential for political stability, increase in wealth, and innovation. As a country whose main resources are knowledge and research, Switzerland acknowledges the vital role played by foreign citizens in the drive for innovation, research and business acumen. And as Switzerland is internationally recognised as a centre of excellence for education, its attraction for studying and research is well-established. The high proportion of foreign university students (27.6%), Ph.D. students (50.2%), teaching and administrative staff (44.5%) attests to this.
Domestic policy places a high value on higher education, and Swiss universities are, as a consequence, generously funded public institutions. Switzerland’s investment in education and research is among the highest of all OECD countries. As a result, Switzerland boasts both the highest number of registered patents in all European countries and one of the highest numbers of Nobel Prizes pro capite in the world.
All Swiss universities offer their courses in accordance with the Bologna system: undergraduate studies culminate in a Bachelor’s degree, which can be further advanced with a Master’s degree, in compliance with international agreements. A total of 135,000 students attend Switzerland’s world-class Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. programmes, which are based on cutting-edge research and cover a variety of areas.

The Swiss educational system is as varied and exciting as the Swiss landscape. Mirroring the diversity of languages, cultures and history in Switzerland, it is built on a complex interplay between the Confederation, the cantons and the communes. While the Swiss Constitution guarantees autonomy to the country’s 26 cantons in the area of education, the Federal Government and cantons share responsibilities on higher education and on the tertiary level. The Confederation is responsible both for advanced vocational training and for the universities of applied sciences. In addition, it has jurisdiction over the two Federal Institutes of Technology and regulates and promotes research through the Swiss National Science Foundation (FNS). Each of the 10 university cantons is responsible for its cantonal university. Cantonal universities receive financial support from the Confederation and from those cantons which do not have their own university.
Higher education in Switzerland comprises academic studies at the 10 cantonal universities and the 2 Federal Institutes of Technology, at the more professionally-oriented universities of applied sciences and at the universities of teacher education. A few more University-level institutions are considered public institutions of higher education.
With their different histories, approaches, and research focus, as well as their language diversity, the 10 cantonal universities and the 2 Federal Institutes of Technology are poised to usher a multicultural Switzerland into the future. They all share a drive for quality in teaching and research, an ambition for excellence, the flexibility to cater to a multitude of demands, and the foresight to anticipate future requirements and challenges. This results in their consistently being ranked among the best universities in the world.