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Everything you need to know about the higher education in Switzerland

Foreigners, as well as Swiss citizens have access to higher education in Switzerland. Though there are some nuances. For instance, it is hardly possible to enter the medical faculty in Switzerland for a foreigner. This profession is so popular that there are not enough places for locals. Dental and veterinary schools are also closed for international students. They do accept a limited number of international students on Pharmacology and Physiology specializations.

The rest of the study programmes are open. The number of international students is relatively high: 18% average and up to 33% in Geneva University.

The overall number of international students increased significantly in the recent years: the prestige of Swiss Universities raised all over the world. The tuition fees remain relatively low: 500 to 750 Swiss francs/semester for international students (Universita della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano is an exception – 4,000/semester). A cost of living is 1850-2000 francs a month. The Numerous Clausus – official quotas for international students in most of the European countries - were not introduced in Switzerland. Universities deal with the problem of “overcrowding” in a different way: after the first year of education there is a special exam that filters out half of the students.

The admission requirements for Ukrainian students are high. To enter the first year of Swiss university they are required to complete minimum two years at the national university (full-time programme in a highly reputed state university), and possibly, to pass entering exam (this is to be determined by the university you choose).

In picking the university it might be useful to take the ratings into account: St-Gallen is famous for its economic school, the best law schools are in Fribourg, Lausanne and Neuch?tel, Geneva is for philology. Mathematics and hard sciences, engineering and architecture are best taught in two Swiss polytechnic schools: EPF Lausanne and ETH  Zurich. Both schools are highly rated around the world: according to “Times Higher”, in 2004 ETH Zurich was in the first ten best universities of the world and in the first three best universities of Europe (after Oxford and Cambridge); ?cole Polytechnique F?d?rale de Lausanne (EFP) became number ten of best universities in Europe. Both polytechnic schools conduct their own entrance exam, as opposed to many other Swiss universities. The prospective students, fluent in French, have benefits: to enter EPF the language certificate is enough, while for ETH four study semesters in foreign university are required.

The list of documents required for application:

  • Application form,
  • Detailed CV,
  • Personal characteristic letter,
  • Secondary school diploma (copy),
  • Language certificate (copy),
  • Academic transcripts (optional).

The deadline for submitting the applications is January: the correspondence with university takes up to three months, and it is good to have some extra time before the start of the study year, which is in October. It might be useful to send your application to a “back-up” university – in case you are not admitted to the first one. This can happen even if your application is in order. It is the discretion of Swiss universities to decide how many students to accept. They also decide as to the “readiness” of a prospective student to start education in Switzerland. This restricted approach can be another stimulation for preparation in entering the university. It totally worth it. 

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