Switzerland has some old universities such as those at Berne, Lucerne, Geneva and Zurich. Considering that Switzerland is such a small country it is quite a feat for there to be ten universities and two technical institutes within it’s borders. There are roughly another forty colleges, institutions, and polytechnics that are able to award degrees through agreements with the universities and the Swiss education ministry. All these various degree awarding institutions provide great courses with really high standards. Those high standards are why international students want to study at universities in the Swiss Confederation.
To reflect the different lingual groups in the country the universities are either French, German, or Italian speaking, whilst some will even run some courses in English. The variety of languages at these universities attracts students from abroad whose first languages are English, French, Italian, as well as German. It is the quality of the teaching and the courses however that tempts foreign nationals to apply for places at Swiss universities.
Swiss universities offer courses that cover the entire academic spectrum, especially when the technical institutions and polytechnics are taken into account. These universities have built up a reputation for academic and also technical excellence over the years. In particular Swiss universities have been renowned for the achievements in the natural sciences, pharmacy, and theology due to the importance of Geneva to Protestantism. Yet international students can study just about any degree course there is at Swiss universities. Therefore there is a high demand for gaining places at Swiss universities, and competition to get on to the most in-demand courses at the most popular universities can be fierce.
Though Switzerland is not renowned for joining international bodies and organizations it does have universities that are signed up to the ERASMUS student exchange program, which is dominated by institutions from EU member countries. The Swiss have remained outside of the EU yet the country’s universities are keen to forge links with other European universities and been involved with student exchanges. Some universities in Switzerland do offer bursaries and scholarships to allow foreign students places on their courses.
There are other things that attract international students to go to Switzerland to study. The country has one of the highest standards of living in the world, though the cost of living is really high. On the other hand if foreign students can get a job in the country after they graduate then their salaries could be among the highest paid in the world. Switzerland is home to some of the most successful banks on a global basis so graduating with an accounting, business, or economics degree from a Swiss university could lead to a job in one of these banks for a foreign graduate.
The international students that gain a place at Swiss universities should consider traveling around the country and not just stay in the city they are studying in. There are some culturally and historically interesting places in the country to visit. International students with a passion for mountain climbing, skiing, and fine chocolate should really enjoy their time in Switzerland.