Switzerland is more than chocolates, cheese and watches. Education, cutting-edge research and innovation are driving the country. Here are five top reasons why Switzerland is the place to take your academic career to the next level:
1. High quality education…
All Swiss universities share a drive for quality in teaching and research, resulting in their consistent ranking among the best universities in the world. In fact, so many Swiss universities are ranked amongst the top 200 universities worldwide that around 50% of all students in Switzerland can claim to attend one of those top institutes.
The Swiss higher education landscape comprises academic studies at the ten Cantonal Universities and the two Federal Institutes of Technology. In addition, there are seven public and two private Universities of Applied Sciences that take a more professionally-oriented focus.
2. … at affordable costs
Switzerland prides itself on its high standard of a publicly funded education system that is affordable for both Swiss and non-Swiss students. In fact, the average cost for a year’s tuition is approximately CAD1,300 for Swiss, and CAD1,500 for international students.
3. World champion in innovation
Switzerland is consistently ranked as one of the most innovative and competitive economies in the world; this is made possible thanks to the universities’ cutting-edge research and considerable investments by the public and private sectors.
Did you know that in terms of Nobel Prizes per capita, since 1950, Switzerland scores at the top of the international table? Swiss researchers continue to produce a high number of scientific papers with considerable impact in their respective disciplines. This is supported by excellent infrastructures, such as the world-renowned CERN in Geneva. In addition, the private sector invests heavily in research, particularly in the pharmaceutical, chemical and engineering sectors.
4. At the crossroads of cultures and languages
Switzerland is in the heart of Europe and at the crossroads of several languages and cultures, attracting people from all over the world. Many UN organizations and international NGOs are located in Geneva, and over 10,000 multinational companies are headquartered in Switzerland. Similarly, Swiss universities are very international. Over half of the PhD students and post-docs, and 45% of the faculty members at Swiss universities, come from another country.
At the same time, Switzerland is an excellent starting point to discover Europe. Thanks to international airports in Basel, Geneva and Zurich, and train stations in almost every town, cities such as Paris, Rome, Vienna or Berlin are only a few hours away.
5. High living standard
On a worldwide scale, the cost of living in Swiss cities is not cheap; however, the quality of life is correspondingly high. In an international quality-of-living comparison of 350 cities, Zurich and Geneva ranked second and third, while Bern, Switzerland’s capital, ranked ninth.
Next steps: Immigration, scholarships and internships
You have chosen your Swiss university… What are the next steps?
Canadian citizens need to apply for a student visa at the Swiss Consulate in Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver. Be aware that an application takes several months to process, and careful preparation of the documents is required.
Regarding scholarships, contact your host university and they will be able to provide you with a list of opportunities. Furthermore, the website of the Canadian Bureau for International Education (www.cbie-bcei.ca) offers a database with grants and scholarships available to Canadians.
If you would rather like to gain work experience during or after your studies, consider applying for the Swiss-Canadian Mobility Program. Though applicants are required to find a job themselves, the program facilitates the work permit application process and allows Canadians to improve their language and professional skills abroad.
Sebastien Hug, Swissnex Boston and
Astrid Kotlinski-de Gaudemar
Embassy of Switzerland in Canada
Weblinks: Visit the following websites for more information: