Studying Abroad

Studying in Switzerland

Uni Compare  · Jun 9th 2021

Universities in Switzerland are notorious for their excellent education system.

Switzerland flag

When you pair this with relatively low tuition fees, studying in Switzerland may be a smart choice for you. Switzerland is a popular choice for students wishing to study abroad. Located in Western Europe, the Swiss population is multilingual with diversity pouring out of the seams.

Depending on where you study, you can expect to hear a melange of languages from German, English and Italian to French or Romansh. Bear in mind that each linguistic area will have its own institutions, traditions and cultures so do your research before you go to find the one that’s best suited to you.

What is there to do in Switzerland?

The beautiful and infamous Alps dominate nearly two-thirds of the country so snow sports may become part of your regular routine when you study here. In addition to the beautiful scenery, the summer in Switzerland is full of arts and music festivals in Swiss meadows and fields, whilst in the colder months winter sports come alive with skiing, skating and ice-hockey.

Some of these activities may prove a little too expensive for students who are looking to study in Switzerland, but if you get the chance, then they are well worth your time!

Education in Switzerland

Three universities in Switzerland were featured in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for the year 2013-2014; ETH Zurich, EPFL and the University of Basel and are generally considered to be the best universities in Switzerland.

As for the Switzerland education system, the country uses a tertiary education system, which is made up of a dual system which consists of the higher education sector and the professional education and training sector (PET). The higher education sector contains:

  • Federal Institutes of Technology: There are two of these institutes in Switzerland, ETH and EPFL.
  • Cantonal universities: There are ten of these, and the word canton derives from the French word meaning district. There are 26 different cantons or districts in Switzerland. Each district has its own courts, laws and governments.
  • Universities of teacher education: These institutions provide education, research opportunities and training to future education professionals.

Professionals or students wishing to further enhance their skills should look into the PET sector. Due to the Bologna Process, the agreements between European countries to ensure comparability in the quality and standards of higher education qualifications, the Swiss education system consists of:

What do I need to get into a Swiss University?

If you want to study for a Bachelor degree course, they are open to EU and international students who have a secondary or high-school leaving certificate.Depending on each individual institution, you may have to take admission tests, especially if you are taking a course in another language.

Due to the diversity of the country, the languages that are spoken at the universities will differ. A large area of Switzerland speaks German, but French is also spoken in the West of the country. The south also features Italian, whilst Romansh is spoken by a small minority. Students looking to study in Switzerland should conduct thorough research beforehand to ensure a course that they are interested in is taught in the best language for them.

How much will it cost me to study in Switzerland?

Citizens of the EU are entitled to attend a Swiss university, even though it isn’t currently a member of the EU or EEA. The tuition fees are relatively low due to universities being funded by cantonal (district) and federal governments. Although fees can be low, several institutes require non-Swiss students to pay additional fees and some universities may even ask for nearly double of Swiss nationals. Students can research university tuition fees in Switzerland using the Swiss University website.

Can I get funding to study in Switzerland?

The Swiss government doesn’t currently offer scholarships to UK students. If you’re not from the UK, you may be eligible for a scholarship from the Swiss government, and you can check eligibility by checking the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) website, specifically, looking at Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.

However, individual universities may still offer scholarships, bursaries or extra funding to students and the best way to check eligibility criteria for this is to contact or check each institution’s website. You can always check out your Swiss university's website and see if they are going to offer anything for international students.

How am I going to pay for my studies in Switzerland?

The Student Loans Company doesn’t currently offer tuition fees or maintenance loans and grants to students who wish to study outside of the UK. Therefore you’ll need to think about how much will it cost to study abroad – you’re going to fund your entire time abroad and research into whether or not you’ll be able to work to aid your studies.

Do I need a student visa to study in Switzerland?

Students from the EU need to register with the Residents Registration Office of their local authority within 14 days of arriving in Switzerland. To apply for a resident permit, students will need to produce; a valid passport; a proof of university registration; a bank statement to provide evidence of how they’ll fund themselves; proof of address; and two passport style photographs.

Do I need health insurance to study in Switzerland?

It’s a really good idea for students to get themselves an EHIC card if they’re an EU national and plan on travelling to other European countries whilst living in Switzerland. As Switzerland isn’t part of the EU or EEA, students will have to purchase European health insurance separately (it is mandatory for everyone) especially if you’re going to be living there for longer than three months.

Cost of living in Switzerland

The currency in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc and we have summed up an average cost of living for your time in Switzerland:

Type Price in Switzerland UK equivalent
Dining out per-meal 25.00FF £19.70
McDonalds (per-meal) 15.00FF £11.82
Beer 7.00FF £5.52
Coke 4.08FF £3.22
Water 3.74FF £2.95
Milk 1.58FF £1.24
Bread 2.75FF £2.17
Bus ticket (one-way) 3.50FF £2.76
Bus ticket (monthly) 80.00FF £63.05
Utilities 192.96FF £152.09
Internet (60+ mpbs) 59.42FF £46.83
Cinema 18.00FF £14.19
Rent (Apartment: 1 bedroom) in City Centre) per-month 1499.05FF £1,181.53

* All costs correct at the time of publication

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