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Switzerland:Higher Education

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Overview Switzerland

Contents

Switzerland:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Switzerland:Historical Development

Switzerland:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Switzerland:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Switzerland:Political and Economic Situation

Switzerland:Organisation and Governance

Switzerland:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Switzerland:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Switzerland:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Switzerland:Organisation of Private Education

Switzerland:National Qualifications Framework

Switzerland:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Switzerland:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Switzerland:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Switzerland:Funding in Education

Switzerland:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Switzerland:Higher Education Funding

Switzerland:Adult Education and Training Funding

Switzerland:Early Childhood Education and Care

Switzerland:Organisation of Programmes for Children under 4 years

Switzerland:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children under 4 years

Switzerland:Assessment in Programmes for Children under 4 years

Switzerland:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 4 years

Switzerland:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 4 years

Switzerland:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 4 years

Switzerland:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Switzerland:Primary Education

Switzerland:Organisation of Primary Education

Switzerland:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Switzerland:Assessment in Primary Education

Switzerland:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Switzerland:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Switzerland:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Switzerland:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Switzerland:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Switzerland:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Switzerland:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Switzerland:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Switzerland:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Switzerland:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Switzerland:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Switzerland:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Switzerland:Higher Education

Switzerland:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Switzerland:First Cycle Programmes

Switzerland:Bachelor

Switzerland:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Switzerland:Second Cycle Programmes

Switzerland:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Switzerland:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Switzerland:Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Institutions Providing Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Main Programmes and Provision in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Teachers and Education Staff

Switzerland:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Switzerland:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Switzerland:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Switzerland:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Management and Other Education Staff

Switzerland:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Switzerland:Management Staff for Higher Education

Switzerland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Switzerland:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Quality Assurance

Switzerland:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Switzerland:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Educational Support and Guidance

Switzerland:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Switzerland:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Switzerland:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Switzerland:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Switzerland:Mobility and Internationalisation

Switzerland:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Mobility in Higher Education

Switzerland:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Switzerland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Switzerland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Switzerland:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Switzerland:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Switzerland:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Switzerland:National Reforms in School Education

Switzerland:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Switzerland:National Reforms in Higher Education

Switzerland:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Switzerland:European Perspective

Switzerland:Legislation

Switzerland:Institutions

Switzerland:Glossary

The tertiary level covers university courses and tertiary level B professional education and training.

In the higher education sector courses may be completed at universities (10 cantonal universities, two Federal Institutes of Technology), at seven state-run and two private universities of applied sciences, and at universities of teacher education, which count as universities of applied sciences. The universities are active particularly in basic research. The universities of applied sciences are focused more towards professional practice and carry out applied research and development.

Tertiary level B professional education and training is carried out in the non-university sector. It offers training courses for demanding professional activities and management functions and serves management training and specialisation. Tertiary level B professional education and training includes training courses at colleges of professional education and training (PET colleges) as well as Federal and Advanced Federal PET Diploma Examinations.


Higher education institutions

Universities


The cantons are responsible for regulating the universities. They are the maintaining bodies for the universities, which they supervise. Under the legal framework the universities have broad academic, financial and organisational autonomy. They regulate and administer their own affairs and have academic freedom and freedom of research.

The cantons receive financial support from the Confederation under the Federal Act on Aid to Universities and Cooperation in Higher Education (UFG).

The two Federal Institutes of Technology come entirely within the competence of the Confederation. The Federal Act on the Federal Institutes of Technology (FIT Act) is the legal basis.


The cantons regulate mutual cooperation and cooperation with the Confederation in the Intercantonal Agreement on University Coordination and in the Agreement between the Confederation and the University Cantons on Cooperation in the Field of University Education.

The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) in the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) is the federal agency for national and international issues pertaining to university education and to scientific and applied research. The Swiss University Conference (SUC) is the joint organisation of the Confederation and the cantons for university politics. The SUC works in close cooperation with the Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities (RCSU).

Universities of Applied Sciences


The Confederation and the cantons together regulate the universities of applied sciences in their sphere of competence. The Confederation has regulatory powers, while the cantons are responsible for implementation and supervision and bear most of the costs. Each state university of applied sciences is maintained by one or more cantons. The Federal Council grants the authorisation to operate a state-run or private university of applied sciences.

Within the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) is responsible for the universities of applied sciences. The Federal Commission for Universities of Applied Sciences (FCUAS) acts as an advisory body to the Federal Council and the EAER. SERI cooperates closely with the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK)’s Swiss Council for Universities of Applied Sciences. The Swiss Council for Universities of Applied Sciences is the strategic political body for intercantonal cooperation at all universities of applied sciences and at the same time the steering body for the universities of teacher education. The universities of applied sciences are brought together in the Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences (KFH).

For the universities of applied sciences the Confederation has adopted the Federal Act on Universities of Applied Sciences (FHSG). The Confederation pays around one-third of the operating expenses of the universities of applied sciences.

Higher education landscape


With the new articles on education in the Federal Constitution (Art. 61a ff.) the Confederation and the cantons are obliged, within the scope of their responsibilities, to jointly ensure the high quality and permeability of the Swiss Education Area. Based on the new Article on higher education institutions (Art. 63a), under the Federal Act on Funding and Coordination of the Higher Education Sector (HFKG) the entire higher education sector (universities, universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education) will in future be jointly managed by the Confederation and the cantons on the basis of standard principles. An intercantonal agreement between the cantons is required in order to create the new steering bodies; for the cantons this agreement forms the basis of cooperation with the Confederation. The Intercantonal Agreement on Higher Education (Higher Education Agreement) is currently undergoing the cantonal accession process (as at: 1 January 2014) and will potentially enter into force in 2015.


Tertiary level B professional education and training

Tertiary level B professional education and training covers the vocational and professional non-university sector of the tertiary level (tertiary level B).

It awards the qualifications needed for a demanding professional activity with specialist or management responsibility. The courses of education and training are varied as regards content, requirements and maintaining bodies, and are marked by their consistent orientation to the needs of the labour market.

Tertiary level B professional education and training is managed federally in partnership between the Confederation, the cantons and the professional organisations (OdA). The legal bases are anchored in the national legislation on vocational and professional education and training and in the EAER Ordinance on the Minimum Requirements for the Recognition of Courses of Study and Post-Graduate Programmes at Professional Colleges.

Tertiary level B professional education and training is a feature specific to Switzerland. In many other countries corresponding types of training are carried out at university.

Tertiary level B professional education and training is divided into the following two areas:

  • Federal and Advanced Federal PET Diploma Examinations
  • colleges of professional education and training (PET colleges).

Academic year


The academic year at higher education institutions is divided into two semesters. Each semester lasts 14 weeks at universities and 14 to 16 weeks at universities of applied sciences.

In the autumn semester lectures begin in calendar week 38 and end in calendar week 51, while in the spring semester courses begin in calendar week 8 and end in week 22 (with one week off).


Legislative References

Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft
[Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation]

Bundesgesetz über die Eidgenössischen Technischen Hochschulen (ETH-Gesetz)
[Federal Act of 4 October 1991 on the Federal Institutes of Technology]

Bundesgesetz über die Förderung der Universitäten und über die Zusammenarbeit im Hochschulbereich (Universitätsförderungsgesetz, UFG)
[Federal Act of 8 October 1999 on Aid to Universities and Cooperation in Higher Education]

Bundesgesetz über die Fachhochschulen (Fachhochschulgesetz, FHSG)
[Federal Act on Universities of Applied Sciences]

Bundesgesetz über die Berufsbildung (Berufsbildungsgesetz, BBG)
[Federal Act of 13 December 2002 on Vocational and Professional Education and Training]

Verordnung über die Berufsbildung (Berufsbildungsverordnung, BBV)
[Federal Act of 13 December 2002 on Vocational and Professional Education and Training]

Verordnung des WBF über Mindestvorschriften für die Anerkennung von Bildungsgängen und Nachdiplomstudien der höheren Fachschulen [EAER Ordinance on the Minimum Requirements for the Recognition of Courses of Study and Post-Graduate Programmes at Professional Colleges]

Vereinbarung zwischen dem Bund und den Universitätskantonen über die Zusammenarbeit im universitären Hochschulbereich 
[Agreement of 14 December 2000 between the Confederation and the University Cantons on Cooperation in the Field of University Education]

Interkantonales Konkordat über universitäre Koordination 
[Intercantonal Agreement of 9 December 1999 on University Coordination]