Switzerland has one of the most prestigious and effective higher education systems in Europe. If the country’s propensity for making the world’s best chocolates and its gorgeous snow-capped mountains don’t appeal to you its education system definitely will. The country’s two top universities are among the top 15 in the world. Moreover, the country has consistently come out on top in terms of the quality of life it provides to its citizens. Switzerland is also known the world over as a leader in business and innovations.
The country is landlocked and divided between the Swiss Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura mountains. The capital canton of the country is Bern and is also one of the most popular city of the country. Switzerland is surrounded by Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein. Two of the most famous cities here are Zurich and Geneva. The country has topped the list of tourist destinations around the world for decades now.
A majority population of the country speaks German, languages like French, Italian and English are also widely spoken. Switzerland is considered one of the most developed country in the world with the highest nominal wealth per adult and the eighth highest per capita GDP according to the IMF. The country has a population of about 7.4 million, and the country is quite densely populated with 183 people per square kilometre. The country accounts for about 20% of the resident population.
The country has a studied policy of armed neutrality and has not been at war since 1815. The country ranks right at the top in factors like government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic competitiveness as well as human development. The country has been a part of peace-making efforts in a variety of regions around the world. 60% of the country’s area is covered by the Alps. These mountain ranges have several glaciers and these are the fountainhead for several rivers including the Rhine, Inn, and Ticino among many others. The country generally has a temperate weather but can vary largely between localities. Summers are usually warm and humid at the time of rainfall. The summers are perfect times for pasture and grazing.
Switzerland has a unique and fragile ecology created between the many valleys created between the mountains of the Alpine ranges. There is a huge range of plant life spread across the mountain ranges which are unlike any other. The country ranks right at the top in terms of safeguarding the environment because of its huge investments in renewable energy. The country has some of the most scenic landscapes in the world over and above having a robust and booming economy.
Switzerland is also home to the UN headquarters among many other UN organisations like the WHO, International Labour Organisation, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHRC) and 200 other international organisations. The World Trade Organisation (WTO), and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) also have their headquarters in Switzerland. The Red Cross was birthed in Geneva, Switzerland, and the country is also the meeting place for the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The education system of the country is considered to be one of the best in the world. With the latest technology and the best facilities in the world, the country offers some of the greatest education facilities in the world. The country is right at the top in terms of research, finance and management education over and above being an industry leader in hospitality and tourism.
The country is known for its great attention to detail. Switzerland has an excellent reputation for hospitality education, science and management. The country has established long standing traditions of giving special care to the finer points of each subject. It is because of this reason that Switzerland corporations rank right at the top in the world rankings. The country also has a very strong economy and is one of top few countries in terms of its per capita GDP. Also, the salaries of employees in this country are some of the most competitive in the world.
The country, over and above being home to some of the most majestic mountain ranges in the world, is also a centre for cutting edge research. The labs of Switzerland are famous around the world for the kind of work they do. CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research is also located in Switzerland. CERN is the only organisation to have the hugely reputed Large Hadron Collider.
The country has spellbinding natural bounty including snow-capped peaks, green woods, crystal lakes, rolling vineyards and the most enchanting landscapes seen. Travelling to some of the biggest centres of Europe is hardly a question of an hour. The country also has an enviable cultural heritage which spans hundreds of years which is reflected in the nation’s architecture and the conduct of the people. The country, despite having multiple languages, finds its people living in peace and harmony. A number of international companies have selected Switzerland to set up their bases because of the company’s reputation for stability, safety and multicultural understanding.
Because the country does not have any natural resources of its own, knowledge and education become an important resource for the nation. The Swiss hospitality schools are considered head and shoulders above the rest around the world. These schools are located around the world and are renowned for their high standards. Over and above this, the country offers some stellar courses in engineering, physics, management and finance. The country is home to a number of Nobel winners and is widely considered to be one of the best education destinations in the world. Switzerland was also one of the ten founders of the European Space Agency in 1975.
The country also has one of the most dense train network in Europe and is well connected with the rest of the continent through various modes of transport. Through this the students can make the most of their stay and travel around the country and Europe. The country also has seven universities in the top 150 in the world, which is commendable for a country its size. Moreover, and more importantly, the tuition fees of colleges in Europe are some of the most affordable in all of Europe. These factors go on to make it one of the most attractive destinations for education in the world.
Most children in Switzerland prefer to go to public schools since private schools are far more expensive. The education system consist of kindergarten, elementary school, secondary school and universities. Each of the 27 cantons have at least one public school. There are a total of 12 universities in the country and ten are run by cantons and two are run by the confederation.
Students have a choice of going in for secondary school or starting an apprenticeship after finishing their elementary school. Students who choose apprenticeship can start their academic career, after finishing it, with secondary school or a technical college.
Universities that are run by cantons usually provide education in non-technical subjects. The universities run by the confederation, also called Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, provide learning in technical subjects. A student must have completed their secondary education, or Gymnasium, to be able to apply to the university and must be holding a graduation diploma. The university education usually goes on for four and a half years.
The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology are adapting their education process to the Bologna Declaration which makes it easier for students to change from one university to another in a different country during the duration of their education. The higher education is ordered on the lines of the three cycle European education system. There is a bachelor’s degree which can last up to three years and there is a master’s degree which can last from one to two years. Students can also go for a doctoral degree after finishing their master’s degree, these usually take up to four years to complete.
Switzerland also has 8 universities for applied sciences, 15 universities for teacher education, and other university level institutions funded by the Swiss Confederation. Universities are also empowered to give a Masters of Advanced Studies degree for students who take only sixty credits during their masters instead of the prescribed 90 to 120 credits. The country also has a number of technical colleges which provide the same education as the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology. The only difference being that the latter provide a more theoretical education while the latter provide a higher percentage of practical experience. Technical college graduates do about four years of apprenticeships because of which their practical experience is far higher.
The most popular courses at an undergraduate level are:
Tourism | Business Administration | Marketing Management | Media Science | Sports Management | Engineering | Civil Engineering | Multimedia Production | Human Resources | Accounting
Popular courses in master’s programmes are:
Hospitality Management | Business Administration | Entrepreneurship Management | Information Science | Engineering | Tourism
The first step for beginning your application procedure to a Swiss university is to finalize a degree subject that you want to study. Make sure that you collect all the relevant information before applying to the course. Switzerland offers a variety of study options a lot of which are highly focused on research. There may be specific admission criterion for courses like medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine degrees, check carefully before applying. We, at Rao Consultants ensure, that your application has all the necessary details to make sure your application gets the positive review it deserves.
Distance learning degrees, night school certificates, and certificates that are not attained by attending school are not considered valid by Swiss universities. Certificates from vocational or part time high schools as well as schools offering general training and vocational education are not considered valid. If your credentials are not considered valid by Swiss universities you may need to pass a full Swiss maturity exam which is the Swiss version of the international baccalaureate.
For undergraduates you need a senior secondary certificate with at least 65% in the four best subjects with good scores in IELTS/TOEFL exams. Postgraduate applicants need to have a good bachelor degree from a background relevant to the degree they are applying for. Students applying for a master’s degree need to have first class through and through and should have at least two to three years of work experience.
The applicants must submit all the certified true copies of their academic documents along with the application form. Successful applications will be given provisional acceptance within a week. The deposit needs to be paid within the first four weeks. Once the deposit is made the confirmation will be sent to the university, this document will be needed for the visa process. Students need to provide a statement of purpose which is very important towards making the application seem more interesting. A full and updated resume is necessary to the application. Degree certificate and/or provisional certificates also need to be attached. IELTS scores or TOEFL scores and their certificates need to be added to the application. The students also need two letters of recommendation from their latest teachers. Work experience certificates are also required to be attached along with the application.
Swiss public universities receive a lot of funding from the government which make the tuition fees very affordable for students. The fees for EU and non-EU students are the same in public and private universities. Average fees for bachelor’s and master’s degrees are around 1600 euros per year. Doctoral fees are about 100 to 200 euros per year. Some courses may be more expensive than others, like medicine where students are charged about 16,000 euros per year. Universities in Fribourg, Neuchatel, Zurich, Lugano, Lucerne, and St. Gallen charge extra tuition fees from foreign students.
Private universities usually charge higher tuition fees than public universities and can range from 1500 to 16,000 euros per year. Candidates that are pursuing their PhD in Switzerland are considered to be employees and are paid for their work. Over and above tuition costs there are also living costs to be considered when one is studying in Switzerland.
One should plan for an average budget of 1000 to 1400 euros per month. This would include, housing, food, transportation, tuition, supplies and other pleasure driven activities. Remember, cities like Geneve and Zurich are the most expensive cities and living expenses in these locations would definitely be higher. Students usually pay 33% of their monthly budget on accommodation, 8% on tuition and 7% on their transportation costs.
Accommodation rates in Switzerland are higher than the norm and are in the range of 450 to 500 euros per month. Student halls are available, but a very small percentage of students live in these, they cost around 360 to 800 euros per month. Renting an apartment is another option and can cost anything from 650 to 800 euros per month. Food costs can be from 180 to 200 euros if you are shopping from the supermarket. Most stores add about 25 to 50 per cent discount if you are shopping after 5 pm. A monthly pass on the public transport in Switzerland can cost you from 40 to 50 euros.
Monthly health insurance is also mandatory for students in Switzerland and can cost you 300 to 330 euros per month. Books and supplies will set you back by about 90 euros per month. It is important to note that the Swiss authorities have a number of scholarship options for talented students. International students can also apply for the solidarity fund for foreign students where you can get up to 520 euros per month for up to ten semesters.
If you are going to be studying for a course that lasts for less than three months you need a C-visa. If your course is going to be lasting for over three months you need a D-visa. If you are applying for a D visa you will also need to get a residence permit from the cantonal migration offices within 14 days of your arrival. You should apply for a visa as soon as you are given the acceptance letter from the university. We, at Rao Consultants, would advise you to schedule your visa interview at least six months prior to when your course begins and not later than ten weeks before the departure.
Make sure that all your documents are in English, if not you may need to get them translated. Below are the documents you will need if you want to apply for a visa to Switzerland:
- Three forms of the D-visa application for long stay which need to filled and signed
- Four passport sized photographs
- Passport which is valid up to three months longer than your planned stay
- Acceptance letter by a Swiss university
- Proof of payment of the registration and tuition fees, original and copy
- Proof of finances to show that you have enough to fund your stay and education (19,200 euros)
- Statement of purpose
- Commitment to leave Switzerland after the conclusion of your studies
- Letter of the institution in case of scholarship or loan
International students are allowed to work for up to 15 hours every week on a part-time basis while their course is on and fulltime during holidays. Places like Geneva allow students to work up to 30 hours a week. This, however, is possible only after you have been living in Switzerland for six months on the condition that it does not affect the progress of your studies. Living in Switzerland after your graduation can be a little difficult but if you are able to prove that you have something unique to offer to your company then the company can obtain the work permit for you.
What visa do I need to study in Switzerland?
Those who want to study in Switzerland will need to apply for a national D visa. Summer courses and language courses require the student to apply for a short-term Schengen visa.
Am I allowed to work as a student?
Yes, but you are not allowed to work for more than 15 hours per week. During the first six months, students studying in bachelor’s courses are not allowed to work while students studying for a master’s degree can only work on campus.
What languages are commonly spoken in Switzerland?
German, French, Italian, and Romansh are the most common languages spoken in Switzerland, English too is a highly common language.
Can Indian students apply for both fall and spring semesters?
International students, including Indian students, can only apply for the autumn semester.
Are GRE and GMAT scores mandatory for admission in Swiss universities?
GRE and GMAT scores are not mandatory but a good score in these FGCEs can only work in the favour of international students.
Do extra-curricular activities support an application to study in Switzerland?
The most important part of the student’s application to a university in Switzerland is their academic performance. Relevant project or research work also gives the application additional credibility. Extra-curricular activities like jobs, sporting accomplishments are an important addition to their application.