Education in Switzerland in the modern world is very popular among students from around the world, and the quality and effectiveness of education in Switzerland for decades has been confirmed by the high successes of graduates of educational institutions of the country. A diploma or certificate of completion of a Swiss secondary or higher education institution is a pass to a happy and successful future. Learn about the features of the Swiss education system, the cost of education for international students right now!
Education in Switzerland, representing a universal fusion of English, American, French and German education systems, combining the best of their features, is currently considered one of the most effective and high-quality. Switzerland is a multinational country in which the official languages are four: German, Italian, French and Romansh. Switzerland, being a federal state, is divided into 26 subjects - cantons and provinces, each of which has a certain independence. Education in Switzerland is unique in that there is no federal national education system in Switzerland, and each canton has the right to establish its own rules and principles for building an educational process. At the same time, the state monitors the accessibility and effectiveness of education in secondary schools, and higher education institutions are subordinate not only to the cantons, but also to the state.
The history of education in Switzerland begins in 1460, when the first higher educational institution was opened in Basel. To date, there are more than ten distinguished and respected public universities in Switzerland, as well as more than one hundred colleges. As for private educational institutions, including schools, colleges and universities, they are very popular and known all over the world thanks to the methodological development of Swiss teachers, as well as the introduction of modern educational tools in the educational process, resulting in age-old traditions organically combined with the latest scientific achievements and technology. A special place in the system of educational institutions in Switzerland are private schools offering a unique education in the sphere of hotel business.
Public Schools in Switzerland
As is known, the Swiss education system includes both public educational institutions and private boarding houses. Public schools receive funding from the budgets of the cantons and the respective cities, as well as from the state treasury. At the same time, primary and secondary schools are controlled solely by cantonal administrations (that is why there is no single educational program for all educational institutions, there are only recommendations). However, there is a universal Swiss educational program Matura, but this is just one of the options that students can choose.
As in other European countries, Switzerland's public education institutions accept boys and girls for education. At the same time, public schools accept foreign students who have lived in Switzerland for a long time (diplomats, employees of transnational corporations, etc.) for teaching students. An important feature of state educational institutions is the fact that residence on the territory of a school or in a student hostel is not provided.
Features of private educational institutions in Switzerland
Of particular interest is the consideration of private schools in Switzerland. Worldwide, it is known that Swiss banks are the most reliable, Swiss watches are the most accurate, and private educational institutions are the safest and most prestigious, providing high-quality knowledge. Of course, most private schools in Switzerland are distinguished by relatively high prices. Education in Switzerland is chosen by the children of European aristocratic families, children of sheikhs from Arab countries, American elite, etc.
The development of private boarding schools in Switzerland began in the early 19th century, when well-known and distinguished teachers such as I. Pestalozzi, R. Steiner and M. Montessori worked in Switzerland. It is with their names that a kind of "revolution" in the field of education is connected, because they developed and introduced into circulation new unique methods that have become classical and educational programs, the traditions of educating students in schools in Switzerland. Real private glory, Swiss private boarding schools gained after the end of World War I, during which Switzerland remained neutral. In addition, the country has a unique favorable mountain climate, some even consider it healthier. Switzerland is the concentration of different cultures, traditions, languages, which makes living and learning in this country a truly unique experience: representatives of at least four cultures and languages live on the territory of the country - French, German, Italian and unique Romansh. Finally, historically, Switzerland is a place for resolving world disputes, the center of diplomacy around the world. Here, the vast majority of Swiss know not only 2 or 3 official languages, but also English, and at a very decent level.
If considered the location of private Swiss boarding schools, most of them are in the French-speaking cantons, slightly less in the German cantons. The smallest number of private boarding schools is located in the Italian cantons. Among the foreign students the most popular educational institutions in the French-speaking parts of the country, where the most favorable conditions for study and living are offered. As for the German-speaking cantons, the educational conditions there are somewhat stricter, and the living conditions are a bit simpler.
An important feature of private bookings in Switzerland is also the traditional for European countries division into educational institutions of joint education, where boys and girls study together, and to boarding schools of separate education (that is, either exclusively for boys or exclusively for girls). However, this division is more a tribute to traditions than a practical step.
Private schools in Switzerland have a vast territory, developed infrastructure with modern educational buildings, sports complexes, sports grounds and stadiums, student hostels and many others. A huge selection of sports sections, creative circles are presented here. In addition, students can attend specially organized events (for example, for any holidays). Private boarding houses have everything you need for classes in educational laboratories, various sports, creative endeavors, etc. Particularly attentive in private schools in Switzerland are the sports development of students: in almost every boarding house there is also football, and rugby, cricket and tennis, swimming and even yachting! Most private educational institutions also organize trips to neighboring Italy, France, Austria, etc. In the summer months, students can go hiking in the mountains, swim in the lake, in the winter - skiing or snowboarding.
In Switzerland, more than thirty leading and most ancient private educational institutions have joined the Swiss Federation of Private Schools, which seeks to maintain the highest standards of educational standards and quality of education in the schools of the Federation. Membership in this organization assumes several advantages:
- In these educational institutions, both national federal and international educational programs are offered, as well as vocational educational programs;
- Finally, live and daily communication with peers from around the world, as well as establishing promising connections.
- The quality of teaching in these boarding schools is consistently high, because it is constantly adapting to the slightest changes in educational methods, standards and requirements;
- In the schools-members of the Federation there is a wide worldview that allows you to look at the world more deeply, proceeding from the characteristics of each of the cultures;
- At the end of the course, students in these private schools already speak several foreign languages and practice them in everyday life in a multicultural Switzerland;
- Students can fully enjoy quality education in educational institutions, as well as life in Switzerland;
- Students of Federation schools have free access to general activities in the city, the opportunity to practice sports and access to centers of European culture.
Features of education in Switzerland's schools and universities: the main advantages
First of all, it is necessary to outline the main advantages of studying in Switzerland:
- Education in Switzerland is education on any European system of education to choose from: German, English, French, Italian and Swiss.
- A rich sports infrastructure in the vast majority of educational institutions in Switzerland, as well as a favorable location in the foothills of the Alps or on the hills allow students at any time of the year to engage in relevant sports: from mountain skiing and snowboarding in winter to horse riding, trekking and mountain hikes in the summer. Schools located on the shores of lakes offer even walks on yachts!
- In many Swiss educational institutions, students are offered a popular and effective educational program for university entrance, called the International Baccalaureate. The certificate of completion of this program is highly ranked in the most prestigious and respected universities not only in Switzerland, but all over the world.
- Education in Switzerland offers a unique opportunity to communicate with peers from around the world, which will allow not only fun to spend time free from study, but also to acquire certain connections that can be very useful in the future.
- Students in educational institutions in Switzerland can be educated in the country in any of the major foreign languages of Europe (English, French, German, Italian).
- At the end of the secondary educational institution in Switzerland it is possible to continue successfully to enter not only Swiss higher education institutions, but also virtually every university in the world!
- Students already in Swiss secondary schools have the opportunity to study at least 2 foreign languages simultaneously.
- Favorable natural conditions, pleasant climate and mountain clean air will allow students to spend their free time on walks, strengthening their health.
Structure of the education system in Switzerland
The first stage of education in Switzerland can be called a kindergarten, or preschool education. At this stage, children between the ages of 4 and 6 receive primary knowledge and skills, learn to read and write, count. At this stage, children are not required strict discipline, performance of any tasks and work - in the form of a game teachers communicate with students, gradually preparing them for primary school.
The second stage of education in Switzerland is the Preparatory School, which involves the education of children between the ages of 6 and 12 (although there are schools that accept children in primary school age 4 years). The educational program in the primary school is aimed at learning foreign languages (at least 2 at the same time), as well as comprehensive development of the child, revealing his talents and abilities. In elementary school, each teacher is given as much time and attention to each student as may be required, so starting education in Switzerland from this stage is a fairly common practice that allows the child to adapt at a comfortable pace.
The third stage is a secondary school where students from the age of 12 to 18 are studying. Finally, at the age of 18, high school graduates enter universities, where they study for up to 24 years. Let us consider in detail all the stages of education listed in Switzerland.
Features of pre-school education in Switzerland
It should be noted at once that in Switzerland kindergarten, or pre-school education, is not mandatory, although most parents prefer that their child still pass this first stage of education, and give it to elite and prestigious kindergartens in Switzerland. The main argument in favor of the necessity of passing this stage of education is more effective and rapid socialization and adaptation of the child both in kindergarten and in primary school in the future. Pre-school educational institutions in Switzerland accept children from the age of 4 months, but this is more an exception than the rule, and in the vast majority of Switzerland's kindergartens, children aged 3 years are on education. Education in kindergartens in Switzerland involves betrothal in a predominantly game form, extra time for sleep ("sleep hour"), as well as high-quality, delicious and balanced meals. In addition, the vast majority of kindergartens have their own developed infrastructure, including a sports hall and a swimming pool.
It should be emphasized, however, that not only private preschool educational institutions (which are open more than 300 throughout the country) operate in Switzerland - there are a huge number of state kindergartens (more than 4,000 educational institutions). While private preschools are paid, state kindergartens are partly paid from the budgets of the cities in which they are located. The most popular and prestigious pre-school educational institutions in Switzerland in most cases work half a day, while offering the services of the highest quality. At the same time, a number of pre-school educational institutions accept children for the whole day, however, such cases are rare.
The process of education in pre-school institutions in Switzerland is, first of all, in the conduct of various games. In an unobtrusive form, teachers work together with children to pronounce the latter, sing together songs, read poems and stories, and also walk a lot. At the same age, the study of a foreign language begins (even two!). Almost all experienced teachers speak out against the standard curriculum, like at school. In other words, children of this age should not be given any amount of knowledge, which they need to remember and learn for the end of this stage of education. On the contrary, it is necessary to direct all efforts to the development of the personality of the child, the disclosure of his character, talent and abilities, which is the main principle of education in Switzerland - the orientation towards the individual. In the process of games, teachers can determine the interests and creative talents of each child, in order to subsequently work with everyone on his individual skills. At the end of the education in a pre-school educational institution in Switzerland, the level of academic knowledge of the Swiss is somewhat lower than that of his peers from other country, but at the same time, the Swiss will have self-confidence and physical health. However, the Swiss can easily catch up with academic knowledge in primary school.
Features of primary education in Switzerland for foreign students
In the overwhelming majority of cases, pre-school educational institutions in Switzerland work in primary schools, and after the children are 5-6 years old they move to the corresponding primary school. This avoids additional stress for the child when moving from one educational institution to another, due to the need to get used to a new place, teachers and peers. At the moment, pre-school and primary educational institutions are gradually united on the basis of one school. In the future, most likely, these 2 stages of education in Switzerland will merge into one, and now optional preschool education will actually become mandatory.
Practically in all cantons of Switzerland the duration of education in private boarding schools of the primary level is 6 years. It is necessary to emphasize that in order to enter even the most prestigious and respected primary educational institution in Switzerland, the surrender of any entrance tests in the form of examinations or tests is not necessary, that is, almost anyone can enter the primary school of Switzerland.
In elementary school in Switzerland, one of the main disciplines is the study of a foreign language. Depending on the location of the school and the teachers, the academic load is determined (as a rule, it ranges from 24 to 32 academic hours of a foreign language per week). A distinctive feature of the elementary school in Switzerland is the fact that all disciplines are taught by one teacher.
Infrastructure and equipment in Switzerland's primary schools, meals and student accommodation
Swiss private educational institutions are a unique example of how a school should be equipped in the modern world: computer classes with fast and modern computers from Apple, fast Internet throughout the school, own gyms and even stables (!), As well as much, much more. In general, the vast majority of private boarding schools in Switzerland are located in the foothills or in the mountains and most similar to a sanatorium than to a school: food is organized on the basis of a full board and includes 5 meals a day, the teaching staff provides the necessary attention, from the students for as long as you need, every day you play sports, as well as various game lessons. Thanks to a pleasant climate and clear mountain air, lessons are often held outdoors. Accommodation in private schools with boarding also has a comfort: all students are accommodated in spacious separate bedrooms, living alone with a peer is a rare case in Switzerland.
Peculiarities of raising students in private boarding houses in Switzerland
Separately it is worthwhile to dwell on a unique phenomenon, analogous to which it is difficult to find in the world, - educational institutions and colleges, whose main task is education and educational manners. For a foreign student, this type of educational institution can be compared with the institution of noble maidens, with the only difference that in Switzerland in such educational institutions not only girls study. For example, in the prestigious and elite school-boarding house Institut auf dem Rosenberg in St. Gallen, boys are studied, who in the future will become diplomats, government employees of high ranks.
As for educational institutions for girls, they are famous finishing schools, whose fame, however, has been somewhat reduced today. However, such bookings still exist and take on not only the children of aristocrats: all girls between the ages of 16 and 27 whose parents are willing to pay from 18,000 £ to 20,000 £ per term can enter freely into such educational institutions to obtain high-quality education. In the process of teaching, students will engage in the art of conduct during business and diplomatic negotiations at the highest levels. In addition, students are engaged in foreign languages, the history of culture and art, the economy, learn to cook, wash, sew, etc. - in a word, everything that a girl from a high society should be able to do.
Specificity of education in secondary school in Switzerland for foreign students
In the vast majority of secondary schools in Switzerland, there are several sections working simultaneously, divided according to the nationality of the educational program. In other words, students can study under the curricula of other countries: Great Britain, USA, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland proper.
The most complete and rich educational program is the federal curriculum of the Swiss school (Swiss Federal Maturity, or simply Matura). Within the framework of this educational program, there are five subtypes that have the letter designation A to E:
- A - the study of ancient languages, such as Latin and the ancient Greek language;
- E - study of the humanities and economics.
- B - study of modern foreign languages and Latin;
- C - study of mathematics and other exact sciences;
- D - studying exclusively modern foreign languages;
The curriculum in each of the listed educational programs includes 12 compulsory disciplines. The range of these subjects includes three basic subjects (2 foreign languages and mathematics), seven general disciplines (geography, physics and chemistry, biology, physical culture and some others), as well as two subjects of specialization that depend directly on the type of the chosen educational program. Thanks to this structure of education in Switzerland, students already at the age of 14 approximately understand what exactly they would like to do in the future, are determined with the direction of further education and begin to prepare in a substantive and in-depth way in the subjects they need for the final school examinations and for admission to higher education institution .
In addition to the Swiss educational program Matura, every secondary school in Switzerland usually offers education in 1-2 foreign sections, which includes the following educational programs:
- Educational program of the UK A-level;
- Italian section Maturite;
- US High School Diploma;
- French section of the BAC;
- German educational program Abitur.
All of the above educational programs vary in complexity and discipline. There is also created by Swiss teachers in the 60s. In the last century the universal educational program of the international baccalaureate (International Baccalaureate, or IB). Next, we'll look at each of these sections in more detail, but the choice of the educational program depends directly on the student's further plans for higher education. Educational programs of the United Kingdom and the United States are suitable for those who want to subsequently enter the universities of these countries or other English-speaking countries. The French Baccalaureate section of Baccalaureat provides graduates with the opportunity to study in higher education institutions in France, Switzerland, as well as in some Canadian universities (French-speaking). Accordingly, the German educational program Abitur allows you to study in German, Austrian, Swiss universities, and the universal educational program of the International Baccalaureate (IB) allows you to choose almost any, even the most prestigious, university around the world.
The fact is that this pre-university educational program for secondary school students (senior classes) is accredited in more than one hundred countries of the world, and in many universities the certificate of completion of this educational program is much higher than the national certificates of full secondary education! This program is designed for graduate students aged 16 to 19 years.
Educational programs of the United States and Great Britain (IGCSE, A-level, High School Diploma) are studied in the aggregate and are divided into 2 stages. During the first stage, students between the ages of 14 and 16 (that is, grades 9-11) are preparing for the final exam for a certificate of secondary general education of an international standard (called the International General Certificate of Secondary Education, or IGSCE). During the second stage (students aged 16 to 18 years, that is, grades 11-13), students are prepared to receive a diploma, which in turn will allow the holder of such a document to enter the higher educational institution of the United Kingdom, the United States and other English-speaking countries (educational programs A-level or American High School Diploma).
German educational program Abitur in something similar to the classical Swiss program. At the age of 11 to 12 years, students are already independently choosing a specialization - a choice of 3 options: Humanities (the study of foreign languages, literature and art); social Sciences; technical sciences (studying the exact and natural sciences - mathematics, physics, etc.).
The French bachelor's education program also has a two-stage division. During the first stage, students between the ages of 11 and 16 prepare for the final exam and receive a certificate of complete secondary education (Diplome National du Brevet). After this, during the second stage, students aged 16 to 19 over three years are preparing for the final exam for a French certificate of Diplôme du Baccalaureate de l'Enseignement du Second Degre. This document allows graduates to enter virtually any university in France and Switzerland, as well as Canada (however, only in the French-speaking part) and other French-speaking countries.
The Italian educational program Maturita is designed for students aged 11 to 14 who study general subjects and then move to upper secondary school, where they are offered to choose one specialization out of four and prepare for admission to higher education institutions in Switzerland or Italy .
As for the duration of the school year in Switzerland, it is divided into 3 terms and lasts from September to June. Autumn term begins in September, in December-January it is replaced by the spring semester, after which in late April, the summer trimester begins, lasting until early June. During the autumn and spring trimesters, students are given a four - or five-day rest, since these trimester are the longest. It should be mentioned that the vast majority of private boarding schools do not allow students to reside in student dormitories during such minicults, which may require additional financial resources.
The cost of education in Switzerland for foreign students
On average, the cost of education and living in a private boarding school in Switzerland ranges from 60,000 ₣ to 110,000 ₣ per year. In addition to the child's education, the cost includes 5 meals a day, sports, various excursions, activities and travel, laundry services at the student hostel, etc. It is necessary to specify a specific set of included services in the case of each individual school.
Features of the process of admission to secondary schools in Switzerland
The most suitable age for admission to educational institutions in Switzerland is the age of 12-13 years, because it is at this age that children can relatively painlessly adapt to a new language, cultural environment, perceiving new educational methods, without experiencing stress about separation from their parents for a long term. Earlier - it is not recommended, because the child's psyche is not yet formed to the extent that it will allow him to enjoy a trip with a minimum of negative emotions. If you enter an educational institution in Switzerland at an older age, then the students will most likely need an additional year of education to catch up with their peers.
In most cases, upon admission, educational institutions require the student's characteristics from his teachers, as well as a report card with grades for the last couple of years of his education at the previous place of study. In addition, it will take a written entrance test. With regard to the submission of documents required for admission, it is better to start collecting the necessary papers 1-2 years before the planned moment of the beginning of education. Institutions consider all incoming documents as they are received, and it must be remembered that, according to practice and experience, places usually end in a very short time.
Features of education in universities in Switzerland
In higher education institutions of Switzerland students spend from 4 to 6 years, depending on their specialization and the faculty chosen by them. However, many students work in parallel with their studies, so their education is extended for another 1-2 additional years. Most faculties in higher education establishments in Switzerland provide for the student to receive a special diploma that allows them to work on the profile, after 2 or 3 years of study. For 4 years, students study for a bachelor's degree, but not everyone succeeds: the requirements for academic achievement at universities in Switzerland are very high, so after the first year, up to half of all students enter the university.
As for the duration of the academic year, it continues from September to June in public higher education institutions in Switzerland and is divided into 3 terms. At the University of Tourism, for example, the education starts 4 times a year (in August, October, January and February) and is divided into 2 semesters or 3 terms.
The process of admission to a higher educational institution in Switzerland
In order to successfully enter the higher education institutions in Switzerland, you need the following:
- certificate of full secondary education with a general average score not lower than the "4";
- passing a single exam for foreign applicants, conducted by a special admission committee in the city of Freiburg;
- (for German-speaking universities) at least 4 semesters (2 courses) at the University of your country.
The structure of a single exam for foreign applicants includes 5 disciplines: 3 of them are compulsory (foreign language, mathematics, history), and 2 - for the selection of students from the following subjects: biology, physics, geography, chemistry, and also a second foreign language. If additional education is required, students can use the services of preparatory courses, working here specifically for foreign applicants. These courses are open during the period from October to June. Here applicants from different countries of the world can also raise the level of knowledge of a foreign language, having studied in the language courses of German, French, Italian. Language courses of foreign languages are accepted for education students also from October to June. However, there are also summer language courses - from July to September.
The universities of tourism and hotel business are a special place in Switzerland - a kind of "chip" of higher education in Switzerland. To enroll in higher education institutions in this area, applicants need to show a secondary school leaving certificate, and pass an entrance test to the level of English (one can choose any internationally recognized language exam, TOEFL or IELTS, or pass a test prepared by teachers or another university). In addition, there are frequent cases when students are called for an additional interview, which in some cases can be conducted by phone or via Skype.
As for, for example, universities of medical orientation, foreign applicants are practically deprived of the opportunity to enter such higher educational institutions. The fact is that in Switzerland, higher medical education is so popular and in demand that universities simply do not have enough places for foreign students (which is why not all Swiss people want seats). In addition, for some specialties (dentistry or veterinary science), foreign applicants can not submit documents at all, because The quotas for them are simply not provided.
So, the main requirements for applicants from different countries of the world, presented in higher educational institutions, are:
- Age from 17 to 18 years;
- Copy of the certificate of complete secondary education with a timetable attached with grades;
- Decoding of the time sheet with the reduction of the number of hours heard for each discipline;
- Characteristics of the student from the teachers at the previous place of study;
- A detailed story about yourself, written by the entrant, with the content of motivation;
- Bank guarantee: the bank account must be at least 20,000 ₣ for guaranteeing solvency. Also, the guarantee of a parent or company with a receipt on guaranteeing the payment of the necessary sums for the education of the child and his residence in Switzerland is suitable.
In addition, it must be remembered that since in Switzerland there is no single system of education, and therefore, unified criteria for assessing incoming students, each higher educational institution will have its own criteria for judging whether an applicant is suitable or no.
Ways of admission to higher education institutions of Switzerland for foreign applicants
For foreign applicants, there are 3 ways to successfully enter a Swiss higher education institution.
First, after graduating from high school in Switzerland. For admission to the universities of Switzerland, you must present a certificate of full secondary education of the Swiss model (or a sample of the country whose educational program the student was engaged in). Depending on the preferred foreign language, which will be taught at the university, it is necessary that the Swiss secondary school also offer educational programs in this foreign language. As it was said earlier, in every part of Switzerland students can get completely different attestations: German Abitur, French Baccalaureat or Italian Maturita. A universal educational program is the Swiss section, available in the vast majority of schools - Matura.
There is also an excellent and convenient opportunity to enter a private boarding school offering education in the Swiss International Baccalaureate program, which has already become internationally recognized. The main feature of this educational program is that it is conducted entirely in English (international language), and if you have a certificate (diploma) of completion of this program, graduates can freely enter any educational program in the specialty.