In Switzerland, there is no central authority that decides on the recognition of foreign educational qualifications for admission to studies. The admissions offices of the individual Swiss universities decide independently and on a case-by-case basis under what conditions the holder of a foreign diploma must meet to be admitted to a degree programme. Foreign applicants must therefore apply directly to the university of their choice.
Universities of applied sciences UAS
Admission to universities of applied sciences depends largely on the applicant's educational background and language skills. As a rule, admissions are made "sur dossier". To do this, admissions committees check and grade the education and language certificates. The admission decision is then communicated in writing, possibly with additional conditions.
Federal law does not regulate admission with foreign educational credentials. The Lisbon Convention IV serves as the foundation for an equivalency check with Swiss admission certificates for admission purposes.
Guidance for the equivalency check is provided by the country list with university admission requirements for foreign upper secondary school-leaving certificates and Swiss Universities' 2021 recommendations for the assessment of foreign upper secondary school-leaving certificates, which are effective from the 2023/2024 academic year.
Further information: swissuniversities.ch swissuniversities.ch.
Universities of Teacher Education
Admission to universities of teacher education depends largely on the applicant's educational background and language skills. A prerequisite is a command of the language of instruction, i.e. the language in which the future teacher will be teaching.
For admission to a Bachelor's degree programme at a PH or another higher education institution for teacher training, the conditions of the relevant higher education institution apply in addition to the Federal Act on Funding and Coordination of the Swiss Higher Education Sector HEdA and the Diploma Recognition Regulations of the EDK, the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education. These may impose additional requirements, such as aptitude tests, mastery of the language of instruction, supplementary examination of the universities of teacher education and or supplementary examination ECUS.
Foreign students wishing to enrol at a Swiss university of teacher education are advised to contact their chosen institution directly, if possible, a year before the planned start of their studies.
List of the accredited Swiss Higher Education Institutions: swissuniversities.ch.
Admission to universities is essentially dependent on the following requirements: sufficient prior education and language skills, as well as sufficient free places in the relevant degree programme.
Further information on admission requirements by country: swissuniversities.ch.
- Admission may be made dependent on passing an entrance examination, in the event of insufficient prior education.
- A foreign degree is generally not recognised if it is not issued by a university listed in the "World Higher Education Database", whed.net.
- Available study place capacities on medical degree programmes in Switzerland are exceeded every year, and strict restrictions apply to foreign applicants. It is therefore generally not possible to admit foreign nationals living abroad to medical degree programmes in Switzerland.
- Prospective foreign students with a recognised foreign educational qualification that is not equivalent to a Swiss Matura level can be registered for the central supplementary examination of the Swiss universities ECUS by the university in question after their application for admission has been reviewed. The universities also organise their own entrance examinations, some of which have different requirements. The universities in French-speaking Switzerland organise French examinations for applicants whose language skills have not been validated. Further information can be obtained directly from the universities.
- The University of St.Gallen only accepts a limited number of foreign applicants. All foreign applicants must take an entrance examination. For holders of a foreign school-leaving certificate recognised by the University of St. Gallen, the examination takes place in St. Gallen. Applicants with only partially recognised certificates take part in the central supplementary examination of the Swiss universities ECUS. Further information: University of St. Gallen, unisg.ch.
Swiss universities charge 500–2000 Swiss francs in tuition each semester. Some universities charge higher fees to international students. Moreover, there are the costs of tuition (sports, books, etc.) and accident insurance. The annual cost of living and studying in Switzerland is estimated to be between CHF 21,000 and CHF 31,000. Switzerland typically doesn't offer financial aid to international students pursuing bachelor's and master's degree programs. It is best to apply for this in one's nation of origin.
Cantonal scholarships for people with B, F refugee and F foreigner permits
Temporarily admitted refugees with refugee permit "F" and recognized refugees with refugee permit "B" are entitled to scholarships and can apply for cantonal scholarships. For temporarily admitted people with a "foreigner's permit F", the situation varies from canton to canton: in some cantons, for example, waiting periods apply.
Support programmes for refugees
Over 20 Swiss universities carry out projects that prepare refugees with residence status N, F, B or Permit S (persons in need of protection) for regular studies. Programs typically include intensive language courses, participation in academic events as a student, mentoring other students, and assistance in the recruiting process. Participation is generally free.
The information platform Perspectives - Studies offers an overview of funding programs, information on individual projects and contact details: perspektiven-studium.ch.