Higher Education in Switzerland

Tertiary education depends on the education chosen in secondary education. For students with a matura, university is the most common one. Apprentices who attended a vocational high school will often add a Fachhochschule or a Höhere Fachschule to their curriculum.

There are 14 public and generic universities in Switzerland, 10 of which are maintained at cantonal level and usually offer a range of non-technical subjects. Of the remaining 4 institutions, 2 are run by the Swiss Confederation and are known as "Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology".

Switzerland is well known for its advanced business education system. A number of world-class universities and MBA programmes, such as the International Institute for Management Development, HEC Lausanne, St. Gallen, Kalaidos FH and University of Zurich belong to that category. All of them are also registered in the Financial Times ranking. See also the list of universities in Switzerland.

Switzerland has a high rate of international students. In 2013, 16.9% of the total tertiary enrollment in Switzerland came from outside the country, a rate that is the 10th highest of the 291 countries included in the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. This rate was just higher than Austria (16.8) and just lower than the United Kingdom (17.5). However, due to the much smaller tertiary system in Switzerland their 47,000 foreign tertiary enrollments are dwarfed by much larger countries such as the United States (740,000), the United Kingdom (416,000), France (228,000) and Germany (196,000). Many international students attend Swiss universities for advanced degrees. In 2013 masters programs enrolled about 27% foreign students (fourth highest rate) and doctoral programs were 52% foreign (second behind Luxembourg).

Switzerland also has a high rate of PhD students and inhabitants with doctoral degrees. In 2014 Switzerland had the highest rate of inhabitants (2.98%) with doctoral degrees in the world. In 2010, with 2.5%, Switzerland had the second-highest rate of inhabitants with doctoral degrees in Europe. In 2008, the number of students graduating with a PhD was 3209 (up from 2822 in 2000) of which 45% were foreigners (up from 31% in 2000).