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Studying in Switzerland

Why study in Switzerland?

For those looking to expand their cultural horizons, Switzerland could be the perfect choice as a study abroad destination. It has four national languages — Swiss German, French, Italian and Romansch — and is equally rich in cultural diversity.

  • There are 12 general universities in Switzerland and a number of other universities of applied sciences and research universities. Swiss universities are generously supported by the government and fees for nationals are low. At many institutions, fees are the same for foreign students or there is only a small premium, reflecting the country’s desire to attract overseas students. Of those studying at university in Switzerland, 21% are international students.
  • English-language courses are more common at Master’s level and most undergraduate programmes are taught in German, Italian or French. The number of courses available at an undergraduate level in English is slowly growing, however, particularly at universities of applied sciences.

Entry and visa regulations

UK citizens do not require a visa to study in Switzerland.

  • Students must register with their local Residents’ Registration Office within 14 days of arrival. To register, students need proof of identity and address, along with evidence of sufficient funds and enrolment at university.
  • Applicants wishing to study at a Swiss university should apply directly to the institution of their choice. Deadlines for entry vary between institutions, but as a general rule you’ll need to apply in the spring for courses beginning in the autumn. 

Funding your study

  • At most of the general universities, the annual tuition fee for international students is between £650 and £1,000, with some exceptions — the University of Italian Switzerland, for example, charges a much higher fee of about £2,600 per year.
  • UK students are allowed to work up to 15 hours per week alongside their studies without acquiring a work permit.
  • There are some scholarships available for foreign students – check with your local Swiss embassy in the first instance.

Some subsidised on-campus student accommodation is available in Switzerland, but it is also common for students to rent private rooms or flats.

  • To start with, contact the housing office at your institution to find out what assistance and/or recommendations they can offer.
  • Budget on paying around €545 per month for a room in a shared apartment.

The cost of living is high in Switzerland. In this year’s Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Zurich was named as the most expensive city in the world, with Geneva in third place.

Prices vary depending on location, but typical prices (GBP, March 2015) are:

  • Apartment rent, 1 bedroom: £755 - £946 per month
  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant: £13.47
  • Meal at McDonalds: £8.76
  • Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught): £4.04
  • Imported beer (0.33 litre bottle): £3.54
  • Cappuccino: £2.91
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): £2.66
  • Water (0.33 litre bottle): £2.24
  • Loaf of bread: £1.68
  • Cigarettes: £5.39
  • One-way ticket local transport: £2.02
  • Cinema ticket: £12.12

Health and safety

  • Health insurance is compulsory for all students intending to stay in Switzerland for more than three months, but for EU students basic medical care is available using the European Health Insurance Card.
  • Switzerland is considered a very safe country to live in and violent crime is rare. Although gun crimes are low, Switzerland has one of the highest per capita gun ownership rates in the world.

Helpful links

International Rankings

University Rankings 2017–18

University QS
QS World University Rankings 2017–18

Global university rankings compiled annually by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). QS ranks institutions by the following key indicators; academic peer review, faculty student ratio, citations per faculty, recruiter review, international orientation.

See the QS World University Rankings here, and more on making sense of international rankings here.

THE
THE World University Rankings 2017–18

Global university rankings compiled annually by the Times Higher Education (THE). THE ranks institutions by performance in the following categories; Industry Income, Teaching, Research and Citations.

See THE World University Rankings here, and more on making sense of international rankings here.

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne 12 38
ETH Zurich 10 10
University of Basel 139 95
University of Bern 166 105
University of Geneva 98 131
University of Lausanne 146 144
University of Zurich 73 104

Business School Rankings 2017

Business School Financial Times
Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2017

Global MBA rankings compiled annually by the Financial Times. MBA programmes are ranked by a number of key indicators including salary increase, value for money, career progression. Note this ranking only applies to each business school’s full-time MBA programme.

The Economist
The Economist Which MBA? Ranking 2017

Global MBA rankings compiled annually by The Economist. MBA programmes are ranked by the following categories; career opportunities, personal development, salary increase and potential to network. Note this ranking only applies to each business school’s full-time MBA programme.

Forbes International
Forbes Best International Business Schools 2017

Ranking of business schools outside of the US compiled by Forbes magazine. MBA programmes are ranked solely by return on investment. Note this ranking only applies to each business school’s full-time MBA programme.

Accreditation
AACBS
Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

More about the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation here.

AMBA
Association of MBA

More about the Association of MBA (AMBA) accreditation here.

EQUIS
European Quality Improvement System

More about the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) accreditation here.

IMD International Institute of Management Development 21 23 1 Y Y Y