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Switzerland

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Why study in Switzerland?

Higher Education in Switzerland

The number of students at Swiss Universities is constantly increasing. For foreign students, it is therefore not always possible to be admitted to a university, despite the increasing international mobility. In addition, some courses are so popular that there have occasionally been no places at all!

There are twelve official higher education establishments in Switzerland (ten cantonal Universities and two Federal institutes of technology), as well as a number of other colleges of higher education.

The academic year is divided into two semesters: winter from October to March, and summer from April to July. The total length of study up to the first academic exam is usually four to five years, depending on the course, with six years for medical studies.

The Swiss academic degrees are the Lizentiat/Licence, the diploma, and the PhD. The level of the licentiate and the diploma (the first two degrees conferred in Switzerland) correspond to the American Masters degree. Most Swiss universities ask for a licentiate as pre-requisite for a PhD.

In addition to the recognised institutes of higher education, there are a number of private colleges offering courses that are not publicly recognized. Students are therefore advised to make careful investigations into such courses before they apply for study.

Admission Requirements

Minimum student age is 18, with a good knowledge of the language of instruction (either German, French or Italian). Candidates should also possess a state-recognized Swiss matriculation certificate or foreign equivalent.

It is important for foreign students to remember that they will be asked to pay somewhat high fees than native students when they are accepted onto a course. They must therefore be able to prove that they are financially able to pay both the fees and their living costs, as it is no longer possible to obtain working permits, even for the holiday periods.

How to Apply

Apply in writing to the university you have chosen, mentioning the field in which you wish to study, and enclosing a copy of your matriculation certificate, copies of college or university certificates (if any) and examination results with an official statement about your studies, and finally a detailed curriculum vitae.

Once you have received confirmation of acceptance from a Swiss university, contact the Swiss Embassy in your home country for information on entry formalities for Switzerland. You will have to show proof of your financial means during your studies at this time.

You will have to apply to the police department after your arrival in Switzerland to obtain a residence permit. You will need a valid passport, with visa if necessary, confirmation of acceptance from a Swiss university, a guarantee of sufficient financial means to support your studies (such as a bank statement), and a statement concerning your address in Switzerland. The residence permit will only be issued if your financial means are guaranteed; you will also need to renew the permit annually.

Entrance Exams

Candidates who either hold certificates which are only partly equivalent to the Swiss matriculation, or who are asked by the university to take an entrance examination, can sit for the exam in Fribourg. These are held twice a year, in the second half of June and the first ten days of October.

A special course designed to prepare students for the entrance exam is held in Fribourg between October and June. The course fee is SFr 4,200. The address for both events is:

Cours préparatoires de Fribourg (Preparatory courses)
Route du Jura 7, CH-1700 Fribourg

Entrance Exams - Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology

Candidates who hold certificates which are only partly recognized can take an entrance examination at the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (Zurich and Lausanne). There is a one-year course at Lausanne which prepares candidates for the exam - contact the rectorates of the Swiss Federal Institutes for information.

Extrance Exam - St. Gallen University

The University of St. Gallen accepts only a restricted number of foreign students, all of whom have to sit for an entrance exam. Candidates holding an accepted matriculation certificate can sit for the exam; otherwise they must complete the exam at Fribourg (see above).

Scholarships

Various scholarships are offered through bilateral agreements between governments and/or universities. Candidates should, in the first instance, find out from their own country's authorities whether they are entitled to a state scholarship, or should approach the Swiss Embassy or Consulate in their home country. The universities themselves can supply information about scholarships that they may give.

With thanks to
The Central Office of the Swiss Universities


 

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