Study in Switzerland

Switzerland is often referred to as heaven on earth and perhaps this is one of the reasons that tourism flourishes here as a major industry. Rather, tourism has also emerged as one of the most popular subjects that students want to study here. The hospitality industry here is one of the most efficient ones and some of the best universities in this reference are located here. In fact, along with theoretical knowledge one gets expertise in practical training too.

If you are one of those students who wants to expand their cultural horizons, Switzerland would definitely be the perfect choice as a study abroad destination. Basically here are 4 national languages here — Swiss German, French, Italian and Romansch. Students can enjoy a unique cultural diversity here along with a blend of fun and some serious studying too. There are 12 general universities in Switzerland and there are plenty of other universities of applied sciences and research universities. The government generously supports most of the Swiss universities and fees for nationals are low. However, foreign students can avail grants and other benefits. There are many universities too where the fees are the same for foreign students or there is only a small premium. The deduction in fees is focussed for attracting students from different countries, outside the EU too. Of the many students doing their degrees in the university of Switzerland, 21% are international students.

Work Opportunities in Switzerland

Switzerland's economy mostly focuses on the highly skilled labor force. The major job prospects are in the areas of micro technology, hi-tech, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, as well as banking and insurance know-how. There are plenty of job opportunities available in the competitive food industry too considering that the Swiss are known as the best-known export items chocolate and cheese. Watchmaking is popular too. Hence mechanical and electrical engineering and chemistry are the main sources of revenues here. Apart from this, job options in Consulting, banking, insurance and tourism also make up a significant part of international trade. It also has an international reputation as a research center is beyond dispute.

Universities in Switzerland

Along with the beautiful locales and spectacular landscape there is also plenty of opportunities here. Switzerland has some of the highest ranked university in Continental Europe in the 2014–15 QS World University For instance, the ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), which is ranked 12th. Other popular ones include Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne at 17th, University of Zurich at 57th and University of Geneva at 85th. You will find that most of the courses taught here are in the English language, especially at the masters level. However, when it comes to the undergraduate ones, you would find that a majority of them are taught in German, Italian or French. The number of courses available at an undergraduate level in English is slowly growing and this mostly applies to the universities of applied sciences and tourism.
Almost 8 of the many universities located here have featured in the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, all of which rank in the top 350. With a population of just 8.2 million, it is impressive to see the growth prospects and quality of education here. There is also the presence of international ranking tables, universities in Switzerland are also very international in terms of their student and academic communities. And the country performs equally well when comparing the percentage of international academic staff members.

Student Visa Requirements in Switzerland

The application for a residence permit or a visa is different for
EU/EFTA citizens and for people from other countries. Students from EU/EFTA countries have to register with the Residents' Registration Office of the local authorities of their municipality of residence within 14 days and apply for a residence permit. They would require-
  • Personal application for residence permit
  • Valid passport or identity card
  • Proof of registration at the university
  • Evidence of sufficient funds (bank certificate or certified document)
  • Proof of address at place of residence
  • 2 passport-size photographs
Non-EU/EFTA countries:

Students from non-EU/EFTA countries have to get in touch with the Swiss Embassy or the Swiss consulate in their native country and apply for a visa. Students are responsible for gathering the information and the documents required for the visa issuing process. Among other things, they must submit proof of   registration at a university. The average visa processing time here can take a few weeks to a few months. So it is advised that one does the same in advance.

Work Permit in Switzerland

Switzerland admits employed foreign students on the basis of a dual system. Those coming from the EU/EFTA countries gain with the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (there are transitional differences for Bulgaria and Rumania till 2016). People from all other countries are subject to different directives.
EU/EFTA citizens who are studying in Switzerland are permitted to accept a side job, which is permissible for a maximum of 15 hours per week. For doing the same, there is no additional permit or notification required. Students are eligible to continue doing the same for the entire period of validity of their student permit.
There is also the option of getting a short-term employment where the EU/EFTA citizens working in Switzerland for less than 3 months per year do not need a work permit. All they have to do is register with the competent authority.

Long-term employment that exceeds a period of 90 days per year, EU/EFTA requires the students to acquire a work permit. The work permit application can be handed in to the local municipal office at the place of residence or work.

For those who are citizens from non-EU/EFTA countries, but studying in Switzerland and working have certain restrictions in their access to the Swiss labor market. Those who are highly qualified professionals are admitted and issued a work permit. But the non-EU/EFTA citizens studying in Switzerland are permitted to accept part-time employment for a maximum of 15 hours per week. However, this is only applicable if the student has been residing in Switzerland for a minimum of 6 months. Students must maintain full-time student status and show regular progress in their studies.

However, those who are doing their Master students with a Bachelor degree from a university abroad working for their Swiss university/institute do not have to wait 6 month. They can get employment straight away.

Grants and Scholarships in Switzerland

Scholarships, especially governmental scholarships are available for foreign nationals too. The Swiss Government provides scholarships to foreign students and artists on the basis of reciprocity or within the framework of a scholarship pool to several countries. There are also a plethora of scholarships for postgraduate candidates or researchers from across the world.

To apply for a scholarship, you have to first check whether you are entitled to one or not in their official website Out here you will get a list of relevant countries and further information on the governmental scholarships, such as application requirements, duration of scholarship, scholarship amount, application procedure etc. The Website of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation provides you with all of this information.

Candidates who are below 35 years of age with proficiency in English, German, French and Italian can consult with the Swiss higher Education institution in order to get a written confirmation of acceptance. There are also separate universities that offer private scholarships and students can check the eligibility criteria for the same over there.

General Eligibility Criteria

If you want to get admission to a bachelor's program, then along with the prerequisites of the school, the basic admission requirement is a Swiss secondary high-school-leaving certificate (Matura, Maturite, Maturita) or a foreign secondary high-school-leaving certificate considered equivalent. Those without recognized certificates qualifying for university entrance may be required to take a university entrance exam.

For the masters program, on should have successfully completed Bachelor's level program. But there are grade specifications for different universities and each university makes its own decisions. There could be further entrance examinations and further requirements. The same procedures apply for Ph.D. too where students should have completed their masters.

Language Requirements

All Swiss universities make it mandatory that the students must have good knowledge of the language of instruction. Some of the French universities include Fribourg, Neuchatel, Geneva and Lausanne, and Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. Fribourg is a bilingual university that offers courses in both French and German. Then there is the Universita della Svizzera italiana, which teaches in Italian. But over the years, many universities have also introduced programs in English, making it possible for foreign students to pursue their favorite courses.

Top Courses to Study in Switzerland

Hospitality Management and Tourism

One of the most popular courses in Switzerland is bachelors of tourism and hospitality. The course offered here is about 2 years and it includes paid internships by most universities too. Some of these courses are affiliated and validated by international institutes. There are also many government owned universities here that provide these courses. The focus is on key practical and management skills to gain sufficient knowledge of these industries before choosing from one of  the specialist pathways for your last year of study. Students can choose from International Hotel Management; International Hotel & Tourism Management; International Hotel & Events Management; International Tourism & Events Management; International Hospitality Entrepreneurship. There is also culinary courses specialisation available for some of the institutes.
  • Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
  • University of Applied Sciences of Eastern Switzerland
  • University of St. Gallen
  • University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland
  • International School of Tourism Management- IST
  • International Business School Hotel & Tourism Management, VATEL(Switzerland campus)
  • International Hotel Management Institute Switzerland- IMI (ISO Certified)
  • International Hotel and Tourism Training Institute- IHTTI (ASEH member)

Applied Sciences

Over the past decade, there has been a huge inflow of foreign students in Switzerland to study different kinds of applied sciences. With state of the art facilities and latest techniques available, this scenic country has the worlds leading and most innovative universities of applied sciences. The courses here range from Applied Psychology, Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geomatics, Art and Design, Life Sciences, Music, Teacher Education to Social Work, Engineering and Business. You will find modern campuses across the country, which are affiliated with the top companies in the world to ensure a job post the degree. Aside from the education and training offering,  a lot of knowledge is also given to applied research and development. Students will take part in research projects alongside national and international partners from industry, business, culture, administration and institutions.
  • University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW
  • Switzerland’s Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS)
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