Study in Switzerland

Do you have friends and relatives studying in Switzerland? Are you also looking forward to pursuing higher studies there? Are you curious to know more about Switzerland? If yes, then go through the below post and satisfy your queries.

Switzerland is a sovereign state and is officially known as Swiss Confederation. It has 26 cantons which are nothing but the member states of the Swiss Confederation. All the federal authorities are situated or located in Bern. Bern is the capital of Switzerland.
It is a landlocked country which is surrounded by Italy in the south, Germany in the North, France is west and Liechtenstein and Austria in the east. If we talk about its geography, it mainly has Alps, plateau, and Jura and the complete area of the country is 41285 sq kilometres. The main part is occupied by the Alps and most of the population of around 8 million is residing in the plateau area. Zurich and Geneva are the largest cities and are the global centres or economic centres for this country.

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About Switzerland

  • Switzerland is the birthplace of Red cross which is a humanitarian institution started in 1863.

  • Switzerland hosts many international organizations.

  • It is not the part of European Union but has founded the European Free Trade Association.

  • As it is surrounded by different regions, it has linguistic diversity and one can find 4 different languages and culture- German, Romanish, Italian and French. For this reason, Switzerland also has different native names like Suisse in French, Schweiz in German, Svizra in Romanish and Svizzera in Italian.

  • The currency coins and postal stamps have Latin on them.

  • According to the IMF, Switzerland is among the most developed countries in the world. It has the highest nominal wealth per adult. It occupies the 8th highest position for per capita domestic gross domestic product.

  • It is also known for its civil liberties, economic competitiveness, government transparency, human development, etc.

  • Swiss Confederation is the happiest nation on the Earth as per the reports of Worlds Happiness Report 2015.

Quick Facts

  1. The official name of the country is Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft in German, Confederation Suisse in French and Confederazione Svizzera in Italian.

  2. The ISO country code “ch”.

  3. Capital of the country is Bern.

  4. Country calling code is ‘+41’.

  5. The major cities of Switzerland are Geneva, Luzerne, Basel, Zurich, Lugano and Lausanne.

  6. It is located in central Europe, having Germany, France and Italy surrounding it in South, East and North respectively.

  7. The population of Switzerland is around 8.5million with mixed ethnic groups of German, French, Italian, Romanish, Roman Catholic, Protestant, etc.

  8. The main export commodities are metals, machinery, watches, Gold, chemicals, etc.

  9. Agricultural products like dairy, fruits and vegetables, livestock, wine and potatoes are cultivated in Switzerland.

  10. The currency of Switzerland is “Swiss Franc (CHF) which is equal to 68.32 INR.

Admission Process in Switzerland

To get the acceptance in any of the Swiss university, one needs to possess a state recognized Swiss maturity certificate. Foreign certificate recognized as equivalent by the university are also accepted.
Language proficiency is again a very important factor for admissions in Swiss universities. Most of the institutes require a B1/B2 certificate level in accordance with the European language passport.
Other requirements for admissions vary depending upon the course, university and program you have selected.
Doctoral/ research universitiesFor admissions in bachelor programs, candidates must hold a Swiss maturity certificate or equivalent foreign upper secondary school leaving certificate. Candidates choosing medical program are excluded from this role.
For admissions in Master’s degree, students should possess a related Bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
For universities of Applied Science and ArtsIn this case, students for bachelor’s course should hold a federal vocational baccalaureate or equivalent upper secondary school leaving certificate. A specific work experience is required for candidates holding Swiss maturity certificate or equivalent foreign certificate and the final admissions can be offered under predefined conditions as per the rules set by the universities. For admissions in music, arts, theatre, etc, not work experience is required.
For Universities of Teacher Education/ UTEAs per the regulations of Swiss Conference of Cantonal Directors of Education, these candidates must have Swiss maturity certificate or an EDK recognized teaching Diploma. In some cases, candidates holding specialized baccalaureate may also get admission for teacher training.

Scholarship option to study in Switzerland

International students can get scholarships from the Swiss government on the basis of partnerships between Switzerland and other countries. Interested candidates need to check with their Swiss embassy or consulate in their own country whether they are entitled to receive a scholarship or not. Another option is the scholarship offered by the Swiss Universities. Students get benefited by getting the grants of around 9200 EUR to 13700 EUR for one year. It can be extended for candidates who are academically successful by the end of the year.
The Swiss government also offers Research and Art scholarships which are dedicated to the young international researchers who have completed their Master’s degree.
Some universities in Switzerland also provide an interest-free loan of around 11000 EUR per year which is sufficient to cover almost 40% of tuition fee and the living cost of the student.
Students staying in Zurich can also have “Solidarity fund for foreign students” which is available for Bachelors who have successfully completed their first semester. The fund's amount you can get is up to 520EUR per month for around 10 semesters.
There are many other scholarships and grants are available for candidates with outstanding performances like Excellence Master Fellowships which provides CHF 10000 to CHF 15000 per year with no teaching duties. It is available for one year but can be extended for the duration of the course subjected to the performance of the candidates academically.

Student Visa Application Process

If you have planned to study in Switzerland, student Visa is a very important document to fulfil that desire. But there are certain rules and regulations for that. Visa relaxation is also there for citizens from EU/EFTA countries.
To get an approved Visa, following steps to be followed-
    Finalize the university to study-Before starting with your Visa application, it is necessary to decide the university in which you want to study. An invitation letter or acceptance letter from the Swiss University is mandatory to apply for Student visa for Switzerland.
    Types of Visa to study in Switzerland-There are 2 types of Visa for Switzerland depending upon the duration of the course you will be pursuing there. “C-Visa” for short duration courses like summer schools, language schools, etc with a duration of around 3 months only.
    “D-Visa” is required for the courses with a duration of longer than 3 months. For D-Visa, students need to get the residence permit from the cantonal migration offices within the 14 days after their arrival in Switzerland.
    Apply for Swiss Visa-Once the invitation letter is received and the type of visa is decided, one can start the Visa application process. For that, you need to schedule an appointment at the Swiss Embassy or consulate in your area or country. This should be done at least 6 months prior to your departure and it should not be later than 10 weeks before to your planned departure.
    The processing time for C-Visa is around 10-15 days and for D-Visa it is 8 to 10 weeks. So, manage the things accordingly.
    Language requirements for Swiss Visa-There is no particular language requirement for Swiss visa but most of the top universities require a proof of language proficiency with the application which is actually need to be submitted to the Swiss embassy visa officers. Many times, the embassy wants to evaluate your knowledge and can arrange a short interview at the consulate.
    Once all this done, your entry application, documents, assessment of language proficiency, etc will be sent to relevant cantonal migration authorities for their approval.
    Work permit while studying in Switzerland-In Switzerland, students are allowed to take a part-time job with the limitation of working hours as 15 hours in a week only. During holidays, they can work full time. But all this can be done after living in Switzerland for at least 6 months and not before that.
    The company hiring you will need to arrange the work permit for you. Graduates can stay in Switzerland for 6 months to try for a job under the same conditions.
    residence permit for D-Visa-Residence permit is required for international students planning to stay longer than 3 months in Switzerland and it is applicable even for EU/EFTA citizens. It should be done within 14 days after arrival in the country.
    The residence permit is available for a 1-year duration and can be renewed as per the requirement.

Lifestyle

The few first things that you will notice after arriving in Switzerland is safety, cleanliness, efficient infrastructure, high prices, helpfulness, reserved nature of local citizens and organized nature. The citizens of Switzerland have nourished and nurtured their local customs which resulted in the very wealthy cultural country. We can elaborate the lifestyle in some broad topics as below-

Introductory meeting

When you get settles in the new location, you are expected to invite neighbours just as an introductory meeting. It can be as short as a glass of wine with some snacks. Swiss people are very reserved in nature and accept the invitations from the trusted circles only.
To have a better meeting experience, you should know about their greeting habits. People older than 30 years, like to shake hands with each other and would like to get addressed with their family names only and not the first names. Once you get closer by regular greetings of the good day, good evening, etc, you can start a close circle of addressing with first names.
Sunday is the day for rest and they usually do not want to get disturbed.

Music and Art

Swiss people love music, poetry, dance, embroidery and wood carving. If we talk about musical instruments, they a Swiss specific musical instrument like bass Violin, clarinet, the dulcimer, Alphorn, etc.
Archery is again in the hearts of Swiss people and we have heard stories about Willian Tell proving the same.

Swiss Cuisine

The overall cuisine trend of Switzerland has an impact from different regions including French, German and Italian. Switzerland is considered a country of farmers; hence the traditional dishes are simply made up of potatoes and cheese.
One can find cheese fondue, Rosti, Alplermargronen, Raclette, melted cheese, Swiss chocolate, Birchermuesli, etc very easily. Swiss cheese is in high production especially in the Alp region of the country.

Festivals and Holidays

Switzerland has a list of legal holidays which starts from New year that is celebrated on n1st January, then Good Friday celebrated in March and Easter Monday in April. They also celebrate Ascension Day and Whitmonday which come in April or May, Bundesfeier in August and Christmas on 25th December.
They have many other regional festivals celebrated in Cantons and these are different for different cantons.
Basel’s Fastnacht or carnival is the very famous festival.

Clothing

One can find western style dressing as normal in Switzerland. Traditional costumes are still in survival during local festivals and parades on occasions. The local costumes exhibit the Swiss art and embroidery.
The women of this country wear silk aprons, straw hats and long sleeved jackets.
Alpine men wear leather shots known as lederhosen matched with sturdy leather boots.

Family

The families in Switzerland prefer to have only one or two kids and remaining single is also becoming a trend in this country. Females are getting married in their later age and even preferred to have kids late only.
In terms of the law, the Swiss women need the permission of their husbands to get a job, run for political offices or to open a bank account. They are in process of catching up with political equality which they have gained.

Sports

They have different sports for summers and winters. The Alpine peaks are famous for skiing, tobogganing, bobsledding, climbing and mountain walking. Ice skating is the most famous sports during winters.
Summer sports include hiking, tennis, fishing, cycling, golf and various water sports. Handball and soccer are very popular during the summers.
They also have some traditional sports which can be seen or enjoyed during festivals. It includes Hornussen, farmer’s tennis, Steinstossen, Schwingen, etc.

Cost of Living for Students

The cost of living in Switzerland is very high but it is providing one of the highest quality of life there. If we consider different aspects of living style like healthcare, stability, stay, etc then nothing is cheaper in Switzerland. The top cities- Geneva, Zurich and Basel are among the top 10 most expensive cities in the world.
Only a few people have their own property in Switzerland which makes difficult to find an affordable, decent accommodation. Many cities are having demand and come with expensive requirements like a deposit of 3 month’s rent. The data says that one may have to pay around 20% of his salary as rent or on housing in the decent area.
The most affordable location in Switzerland is La Chaux-de-Fonds situated in the quaint canton of Neuchatel.
The Swiss government has implemented laws which also make it difficult to own or buy properties in Switzerland for non-nationals or foreigners. Although it is not impossible to buy a house it will cost higher for foreigners.
The utility is handled by private firms and they offer it in all-in packages. This makes it cheaper for electricity, TV licenses and broadband charges. The Gas is very rarely used in the house holding tasks because it the sourcing is very costly.
They do not have any strict rule for paying utility charges and some landlords add it in the rent whereas some residents pay their own utility charges separately.
The transport charges are around EUR 50-100 a month for travel pass which is valid or accepted for trains, trams, ships and buses. You may get various discount cards to make it more affordable like annual Swiss half fare cards, junior card, etc.
To own your own care is expensive in Switzerland because you need to pay vehicle insurance, parking permits and canton taxes on it. The cost of cars itself is higher than other European countries.
The cost of groceries in Switzerland varies widely depending on different factors like the preferred brand, household size, etc. It is costlier than European food at around 20-30 times. The cities like Zurich and Geneva are the costliest cities for groceries.
The Swiss citizens prefer shopping after 5 pm for perishable items to save some money. You can also prefer international budget supermarkets to save a few euros.
Just like other factors, healthcare is also expensive in Switzerland. Basic healthcare insurance is compulsory in the whole country and it can be expensive and it does not guarantee the best healthcare system in the world even at that cost.
Crèches and childcare centres are very common in Switzerland. Although it is widely available, it is not cheaper for parents. Apart from Crèches, another option is also available which is known as ‘day mother’.
The Swiss Red Cross also provides Babysitting program and motivates the teenagers to take care of young children. The cost of this service is equivalent to ‘day mother’ options.
The taxing system of Switzerland is a bit complex as it has various levels like federal, municipal and cantonal. Married couples have to pay tax on their joint earning rather than their individual earnings. They also have may tax relief.

Tuition Fee in Universities

The public universities in Switzerland receives enough funds which in turn makes the admissions affordable by lowering the tuition fees in institutes.
Students coming to Switzerland on an exchange education program need not pay any tuition fee in most of the cases.
In private and public universities, the fee scale is similar for both the European and non-European students which are approximately 1600EUR per year for Bachelor and master’s degree. The PhD degree costs around 100-200 EUR per year. Some professional degrees like Medicine may charge higher than average.

Documents for University Admissions in Switzerland

The document requirements for C-Visa and D-Visa vary and the details list as mentioned below-
For C-Visa
  1. The first requirement is an acceptance letter from the Swiss University.

  2. A valid passport or travel id is again an important requirement. The validity of passport should be at least months from the duration of your stay in Switzerland.

  3. Proof of financial resources to manage the living costs during your stay in Switzerland.

  4. Your healthcare certificate and the copy of insurance certificate is required to get C-Visa for Switzerland.

  5. A proof or fee receipt that you have got confirmed for the course and have paid the fee.

  6. For students below 18 years of age, the birth certificate is required. Authorization to travel is required if travelling alone and copies of parents Visa is required if travelling with parents.

For D-Visa
  1. The first requirement is an acceptance letter from the Swiss University.

  2. A valid passport or travel id is again an important requirement. The validity of passport should be at least months from the duration of your stay in Switzerland.

  3. Proof of financial resources to manage the living costs during your stay in Switzerland.

  4. Your healthcare certificate and the copy of insurance certificate is required to get C-Visa for Switzerland.

  5. A motivation letter mentioning the reason that why you want to study in Switzerland for studies and how it be beneficial for your career in the future.

  6. receipt or proof of fee paid.

  7. Copy of your detailed C.V.

  8. Proofs and the copy of your previous qualification and educational certificates/ Diplomas are required for D-Visa.

  9. An authorized or signed letter as confirmation that you will leave Switzerland after completing your course.

Education in Switzerland

Education is compulsory in Switzerland and it is unconventional in comparison to other nations. They have various different kinds of schools like local Swiss schools, private schools, bilingual schools, international schools, etc. They follow the high standard for education and the local schools offer free education.
As the education is managed by Cantons, you may consider it as decentralized and it is overseen by State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Cantons have rights to create and implement their own education standard and this is the reason that it is difficult to change the school from one canton to another.
In the recent survey of OECD/PISA of educational standards, Switzerland got 9th position among 60 different countries.
Most of the international and local schools are offering free education but in turn, the parents have to pay extremely high taxes to support this free education. Education is compulsory until the age of 15 years and it starts at the age of 4 years in most of the cantons. The school sessions in Switzerland starts in August- September just like the U.S.
The education system has different levels with primary education or Kindergarten as its initial point. Then kids get their lower secondary education, after that upper secondary education. Upper Secondary education also includes vocational training. The highest level of education is a tertiary level which can be pursued in the universities.
Homeschooling is considered illegal in many cantons but rules related to the same vary from one to another canton.
Switzerland has a supporting system for kids with special educational needs from specialists from their birth till the age of 20 years. These kids get free education and support from their cantons.

Courses and universities in Switzerland

Switzerland is among the top countries for providing education and holding many top ranking universities for international students. Below are the best options for students looking forward to pursuing studies in Switzerland-
  • University of Zurich-It is the largest university in Switzerland and is also a top-ranked among the universities in the world. This university has around 26000 students and has 160 institutes, clinics and seminars. If we talk about courses which can be pursued from here, students can enrol in social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics, computer science and IT, Law, Engineering and technology, etc in this university.

  • University of Basel-It also secures its position among the top universities in the world and offers the range of courses that combine the academic learning as well as professional experience. It also has different streams like Humanities, Art, Design and Architecture, Medicine and Health, Business and Management, Agriculture and Forestry, etc.

  • University of Neuchâtel-This University is having international recognition and offering study to around 4380 international students. It also has a wide range of Master’s degrees in fields like Social Sciences, Hospitality, leisure and Sports, Environmental Studies and Earth Sciences, etc. This university also support the research and there are about 800 teachers as researcher and scientific staff to support the students.

  • University of Lausanne-This University has 7 different faculties and holding around 11500 students with 2200 researchers from different countries. It has 3 centres in Cathedral, Chateau and the largest one is in Dorigny. It focuses on disciplines like life sciences, business, medicines and geosciences.

  • University of St. Gallen-It is one of Europe’s top business universities. It is the main attraction for international students as the fee structure is lower in comparison to other universities. It mainly focuses on Business and management programs.

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