About Switzerland


If you're looking to study abroad in a true higher education powerhouse, then you may well decide to study in Switzerland. Read our guide to find out everything you need to know about studying in this stunningly beautiful and impressively competitive European study destination…

Switzerland is home to one of Europe’s most prestigious higher education systems, including continental Europe’s two highest entries in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15 – ETH Zurich and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) are both placed among the world’s top 20.

Additional attractions to study in Switzerland come from the postcard-perfect beauty found throughout the nation, which is especially known for its magnificent Alpine mountains and dazzling lakes. With four official languages, it’s a true European melting pot, and consistently ranks among the world’s leaders on measures of quality of life. Sound good so far? Then maybe Switzerland is the study abroad destination for you.

Facts about Switzerland

  • Federal democratic republic with bicameral legislature
  • Divided into 26 cantons (equivalent of states)
  • Head of state/government is the seven-member Swiss Federal Council
  • Representative president is chosen from Federal Council, but doesn’t gain any additional powers (currently Didier Burkhalter)
  • Population: Approx. 8 million
  • Area: 15,940 square miles
  • Part of the Schengen Area, but not the European Union
  • Four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh
  • The nation has its origins in the late 13th century, though it only came into being in its current form in the mid-19th century
  • The “CH” often used in reference to Switzerland stands for Confoederatio Helvetica, the original Latin name for what is now Switzerland
  • Currency: Swiss franc (CHF)

Life in Switzerland

A relatively small and landlocked country in the centre of Europe, Switzerland is known for its modern cities, stunningly beautiful mountains and lakes, high quality of living, and delicious milk chocolate.  With four official national languages and population coming from outside the country, bilingualism and multiculturalism are at the core of daily life here.

Student visas for Switzerland

If you’re from outside of the EU/EFTA:

  • You will need to apply for a multiple entry long stay visa (Visa D) from your local Swiss embassy. You must allow at least three months for your visa to process, so make sure you apply in plenty of time.
  • The embassy will tell you specifically what you need to provide in order to obtain your visa, but it is likely to be similar to the above list for obtaining a residence permit. You will be allowed six months to find a job in Switzerland after completing your degree, and will be able to get a work visa if you succeed.
  • Within 14 days of your arrival you must apply for a residence permit. See above for what you’ll need to provide.

Fees and funding

Switzerland is not a cheap place to live. Living expenses for students are estimated between CHF18,000-28,000 per year (approx. US$19,000-30,000). However, this is counterbalanced by the country’s relatively low tuition fees. In most cases, international students pay no more than local students (some universities operate a slight mark-up). The exact sum varies, but at most leading Swiss universities, international fees are with the range of CHF1,266-2,200 per year (approx. US$1,300-2,275). Some scholarships are available, from the Swiss Government and from individual universities.