Why study in Switzerland?

Switzerland has a long established and outstanding reputation for excellence in Hospitality Education. Many of the world’s successful hoteliers have been educated in this beautiful and safe country. Since Switzerland has no natural resources, education and knowledge have become very important resources. Therefore Switzerland claims to have one of the world’s best education systems.


The most popular of the educational facilities for foreign students, are the Swiss Hospitality Schools. Located in various towns and cities across Switzerland, these schools are renowned worldwide for their high standards and are almost a pre-requisite for hospitality students looking for a first class education.

1. High student satisfaction index:

According to international student testimonies, Switzerland is considered a great place to receive higher education in Europe. More than 50% students rated it 8.9 or higher on scale of 10 in various International Student Satisfaction Awards. Six universities in Switzerland received awards of international student satisfaction. The first three had average ratings of at least 9 out of 10 and were awarded the Certificate for Excellent International Student Satisfaction. EcolePolytechniqueFédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) placed first, followed by the University of Bern and ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Three more universities in Switzerland were rated “very good”, including ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the University of Lausanne and the University of Zurich.

2. Diverse country offering plenty opportunities:

  • With 4 native languages including French, German, Italian and Romansh, Switzerland offers multilingualism like no other does. Students have the opportunity to hone current language skills or learn something completely new.
  • Switzerland’s geography is postcard perfect. The iconic Swiss Alps, cow-dotted pastures and serene blue lakes offer a breathtaking scenic backdrop for academic life. Many higher education institutions are tucked into or near the Alps themselves for easy access to a wondrous view.
  • If you love to ski and snowboard, there’s no place better than Switzerland. And if you don’t love to ski and snowboard, there’s no better place to learn. Students are eligible for an inexpensive year-long ski pass to some of the world’s best slopes. From Zermatt to St. Moritz, Switzerland is a mecca for winter sports enthusiasts. The summer, meanwhile, brings stunning views and clear lake swimming.
  • Switzerland balances rural charm with urbane sophistication, with it fine architecture of historic castles to major cities with advanced facilities and cutting-edge technology.
  • Students come from all over the world to study in Switzerland, promoting the development of a rare international perspective. The International Olympic Committee, the Red Cross and the World Economic Forum are just a few of the global organizations located in Switzerland.

3. Home to world’s best institutes

Zurich’s Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) holds the 7th place spot in Engineering, Science and Technology and has hosted a whopping 31 Nobel Laureates. Three other Swiss institutions join ETH Zurich in the 2013-14 QS World University Rankings’ Top 100, including the ÉcolePolytechniqueFédérale de Lausanne, the University of Geneva and the University of Zurich.While English is not one of Switzerland’s four national languages, most locals speak great English, and are committed to global culture. Some schools — particularly business programs — offer complete courses of study in English.

Switzerland is situated in Western-Central Europe, and is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein

to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked countrygeographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura. Located in the heart of Europe, Switzerland has Paris, London, Amsterdam, Rome and Madrid at its doorstep, as all are within an hour’s flight. Switzerland offers not only the finest landscapes, but also the cultural heritage of a multilingual population, where people have learned from childhood to live peacefully with their countrymen and women, who often speak a language different from their own. In such a country and environment everybody can feel safe.

Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately eight million people is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are to be found: among them are the two global cities and economic centres Zürich and Geneva. It consists of 26 cantons,the cantons have a permanent constitutional status and, in comparison with the situation in other countries, a high degree of independence. Under the Federal Constitution, all 26 cantons are equal in status. Each canton has its own constitution, and its own parliament, government and courts.The city of Bern is the seat of the federal authorities.

The Swiss climate is generally temperate, but can vary greatly between the localities,from glacial conditions on the mountaintops to the often pleasant near Mediterranean climate at Switzerland’s southern tip. There are some valley areas in the southern part of Switzerland where some cold-hardy palm trees are found. Summers tend to be warm and humid at times with periodic rainfall so they are ideal for pastures and grazing. The less humid winters in the mountains may see long intervals of stable conditions for weeks, while the lower lands tend to suffer from inversion, during these periods, thus seeing no sun for weeks.

Education in Switzerland is very diverse because the constitution of Switzerland delegates the authority for the school system to the cantons.There are both public and private schools, including many private international schools. The minimum age for primary school is about six years in all cantons, but most cantons provide a free “children’s school” starting at four or five years old.[Primary school continues until grade four, five or six, depending on the school. Traditionally, the first foreign language in school was always one of the other national languages, although around 2000 English was introduced first in a few cantons.

At the end of primary school (or at the beginning of secondary school), students are separated according to their capacities in often three sections. The fastest learners are taught advanced classes to be prepared for further studies and the matura,while students who assimilate a little more slowly receive an education more adapted to their needs.

a) Sekundarschule – is the highest level. Some apprenticeships require this level of education. It is particularly required if a student wants to attend a Gymnasium (“secondary school”) afterwards. Sekundarschule includes math, geometry, native language (German in case of Zürich), first foreign language (french in Zürich), geography, history and more. In addition, students may attend other subjects like a second foreign language, usually English or Italian.

b) Realschulebasically teaches the same subjects but not to the same extend.

c) Oberschule takes care of students who have difficulties in learning.

After Primarschule, students can also choose to go to Gymnasium (“secondary school”) directly without going to the Oberstufenschule; in this case, the Gymnasium takes 6½ years instead of 4½ years.

Berufslehre (“Apprenticeship”):

In Switzerland, most kids start a Berufslehre (“apprenticeship”) after elementary school. Depending on the profession, an apprenticeship takes two to four years. Apprenticeships include all kinds of professions, from handicraft (mechanician, carpenter, baker, hairdresser etc.) to office worker (secretary, bookkeeper, IT specialist etc.). Apprentice will get trained at a company or organization, but also attend school for one or two days a week. Some companies also provide additional classes on their own.

After apprenticeship and depending on their education, young people can either start a job or join other schools for further education, including so called Fachhochschulen (previously known as HöhereTechnischeLehranstalt, “technical colleges”).

Gymnasium (“Secondary school”):

There are various types of Gymnasia (“secondary schools”) with different emphasis and major subjects.

Universität (“University”):

There are eleven Universitäten (“universities”) in Switzerland, nine of them are run by a canton, two are run by the confederation. In general, the universities run by the cantons provide non-technical subjects, whereas the universities run by the confederation provide technical subjects and are also called as “Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology”.

To be able to attend an university, a student must have finished a Gymnasium and own a graduation diploma. The study at any university usually lasts four and a half years.

One of the technical universities run by the confederation is located in the German speaking part of Switzerland, the other in the French speaking part.

The two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology are currently adapting their education process to the so called “Bologna declaration”, an attempt of the European universities to align their educational program to make it not only easier, but also possible for a student to change from one university in one country to another university in another country during his or her study.

The education is now broken up into two parts similar to the education in the USA:

  • a bachelor study (three years)
  • a masters study (one and a half or two years)

After a successful completion of the masters study, one can start working on a thesis in order to get a doctor title. This takes usually three to four years.

Fachhochschulen (“Technical college”):

After an apprenticeship, a young person can still start an academic career. Depending on the profession, she or he may attend a Fachhochschule (“technical college”). A technical college provides a similar education as the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology but not to the same extend. While an engineer ETH (graduate of one of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology) has a stronger theoretical background, an engineer FH (graduate of one of the technical colleges) usually has more practical experience because she or he had finished an apprenticeship which lasted four years. The study lasts three and a half years.

Education curriculum

There are many different opportunities for a child to get an education. The curriculum below shows some of the most common pathways through the educational system. Of course, there are many other ways to get an education and there are other schools and possibilities especially in the area of continuing education.

Popular Courses

At Undergraduate level: 
Tourism, Business administration, Tourism Marketing Management, Banking, Communication design, Human resources, Accounting, Sports management, Media Science, Systems Engineering, Civil Engineering, Multimedia Production.

At Postgraduate level:
Hospitality Management, Tourism, Business Administration, Entrepreneurship management, information science, Engineering.

Many Nobel Prize laureates have been Swiss scientists. They include the world-famous physicist Albert Einstein, Vladimir Prelog, Heinrich Rohrer, Richard Ernst, Edmond Fischer, Rolf Zinkernagel, Kurt Wüthrich and Jacques Dubochet and many more. In total, 114 Nobel Prize winners in all fields stand in relation to Switzerland and the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded nine times to organisations residing in Switzerland.

The cost of a Swiss education is significantly lower than many of the country’s European counterparts. While the low tuition fees alone are enough to entice potential students, throw in generous government- and university-sponsored scholarships, and Switzerland becomes an increasingly irresistible destination.

Government Scholarships:

  • Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars and Artists: Available through the Swiss Government’s Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students, these scholarships provide postgraduate funding to scholars and researchers in all fields studying at publicly funded Swiss universities, federal institutes of technology, applied sciences institutions and schools of music and fine arts. Depending on country of origin, scholarship opportunities and eligibility criteria may vary.
  • The Erasmus Mundus Scholarships: Sponsored by the European Commission, this program fosters cooperation between European higher education institutions and third world countries to promote highly trained human resources. Higher education students from across the globe are eligible for for funding, allowing them to participate in the Erasmus Mundus study program tuition-free.

University Scholarships:

  • ETH Excellence Scholarships: International students pursuing Master’s degrees at ETH Zurich are eligible for two scholarship programs: the Excellence Scholarship & Opportunity Programme (ESOP) awards a special scholarship — covering full study and living costs –and supervision for the entire course of study; the Master Scholarship Program (MSP) provides a partial stipend along with an assistantship. This program is open to both national and national students with excellent undergraduate records. Read more about programs in ETH here.
  • UNIL Master’s Grants: Ten annual Master’s grants are awarded to distinguished international students on a competitive basis in most fields. Recipients at the University of Lausanne are granted a monthly stipend. Read more about the University of Lausanne’s Business & Economics and Law programs.
  • EPFL Excellence Fellowships: A limited number of fellowships are awarded to outstanding Master’s level students by the EcolePolytechniqueFédérale de Lausanne. The academic achievement-based award consists of a pre-set financial package per academic year. Read more about the EcolePolythecniqueFédérale de Lausanne here.
  • The Graduate Institute Scholarships: Geneva’s Graduate Institute awards a significant number of scholarships annual to Master’s and Ph.D. students. As many as 32 percent of enrolled students have benefited from this financial support, which can range from full scholarships to tuition scholarships in specified fields for candidates from predetermined regions. Read more about the Graduate Institute here.
  • IMD MBA Scholarships: Top-ranked business school IMD offers a variety of scholarship assistance to full-time students. Depending on country of origin, students are eligible for scholarships ranging from CHF 25,000-50,000. Read more about IMD MBA programs here.
  • University of Geneva Excellence Master Fellowships: The premiere institution’s Faculty of Science established this scholarship program to support outstanding Master of Science candidates in any discipline. Applicants must be in the top 10 percent of their undergraduate programs. Funding ranges from CHF 10,000-15,000 for one year and may be extended for the full duration of the program pending academic success. Read more about the Université de Genève here.

There are 12 universities in Switzerland, ten of which are maintained at cantonal level and usually offer a range of non-technical subjects. The first university in Switzerland was founded in 1460 in Basel (with a faculty of medicine) and has a tradition of chemical and medical research in Switzerland. The largest university in Switzerland is the University of Zurich with nearly 25,000 students. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) and the University of Zurich are listed 10th and 73rd respectively, on the 2018 QS World Universities Ranking.
The two institutes sponsored by the federal government are the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) in Zürich, founded 1855 and the EPFL in Lausanne, founded 1969 as such, which was formerly an institute associated with the University of Lausanne.In addition, there are various Universities of Applied Sciences. In business and management studies, the University of St. Gallen, (HSG) is ranked 372th in the world according to QS World University Rankings 2018 and the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), was ranked first in open programmes worldwide by the Financial Times.