The country is situated in Western and Central Europe, where it is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is made up of 26 cantons and has its capital in Bern. Zurich is the largest city in the country. Switzerland is also known as Confoederatio Helvetica, abbreviated by CH. The three main governing bodies are: the Federal Court, the federal Council and the Federal Assembly. Switzerland doesn't have a President or a Prime Minister. Switzerland is not part of the European Union and has its own currency, the Swiss Frank (CHF).
Switzerland has four national languages: German is the most widely spoken (63%), followed by French, Italian and Rumantsch, spoken by just 0.5% of the total Swiss population.
Switzerland has a population of 8.04 million and population density is high. 23% of the population is made up of foreigners. About one quarter of the Swiss population is involved in volunteer work.
60% of the country is covered by mountains. The country has numerous lakes, including small mountain lakes. The most famous are Lake Geneva and Lake Constance and many smaller mountain lakes. Switzerland's climate is ideal, with no excessive heat, cold or humidity, and varies according to region.
Switzerland is ranked second in the world for quality of life. The Swiss economy has been very stable over the years. Its GDP per inhabitant is higher than in most industrialised countries. The Swiss population enjoys a high level of living.
Switzerland is a cultural meeting point in the heart of Europe where many different people, languages and religious beliefs co-exist. Its creative and cultural contributions reflect the diversity of this multilingual and cosmopolitan environment.
Knowledgeable minds and continuous research are the main and most valued resources in the country, supported by a great emphasis on high quality international education. Switzerland has more than 100 Nobel Prize winners.
Due to its favourable business and living environments, Switzerland is also home to an increasingly large number of European company headquarters.
Undergraduate studies result in a Bachelor's degree, advancing to a Master's degree. About 135,000 students attend Switzerland's Bachelor's, Master's and Ph.D. programmes, most of which are focused on quality research work.
The Swiss higher education system includes:
The first university in Switzerland was founded in 1460 in Basel and has a tradition of chemical and medical research.
Find more information about enrollment and admission in Swiss universities.
Students who do not hold fully recognized foreign certificates must pass a university entrance exam. All persons living in Switzerland for more than three months, including international students, must have basic health insurance coverage. Some universities may require additional application requirements, so make sure and ask for detailed information.
The application must include proof of admission in the higher education institution, proof of payment of fees and means of support during studies, a written commitment that the student will leave Switzerland after programme graduation, as well as curriculum vitae. Swiss authorities may also organise a test to assess language proficiency.
Find more information about permits and study visa for Switzerland.
Universities in Switzerland hold partnerships with universities from other countries and encourage international student mobility. Many student exchange programs allow students to travel all over Europe. 27.6% of students in Switzerland are foreigners, while 50% of PhD graduates are also international students. Some universities offer international students the possibility to be guest students for a limited amount of time.
Universities receive generous public funding in order to maintain quality facilities and teaching. Swiss teachers provide access to multi-lingual and multi-cultural study resources.
In Switzerland, English is the fourth language of instruction used in academic settings. Most undergraduate programmes are taught in one of the country's official languages: German, French or Italian. However, the number English-taught Bachelors is slowly growing in Switzerland, particularly at universities of applied sciences.
English-language courses are more common at the Master’s level, with over 200 Swiss programmes available in English, creating great opportunities to study abroad in Switzerland. English is often the language of instruction and an application requirement for students who plan to study in a research- oriented environment.
Studies may be delivered in German, French, Italian or a mix of German and French, depending on the region or university students wish to attend. The German-speaking part of Switzerland is larger, comprising about 65% of the country. It includes cities like Basel, Bern and Zurich. Cities such as Fribourg, Geneva and Lausanne are located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, in the west of the country. Although the proportion of Italian-speaking Swiss has been decreasing, Italian is the teaching language in the southern parts of the country, comprising of cities like Lugano and the canton of Ticino.
Switzerland ranks among the top ten countries worldwide in terms of research and development investments. Discoveries developed in Swiss research centres include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and the scanning tunnelling microscope, as well as various space technologies and programs. Particle physics is also one of the main fields of research in Switzerland. Private companies, particularly in the pharmaceutical, chemical, and engineering industries, fund three quarters of all Swiss research.
Swiss universities offer young students a great number of employment opportunities in teaching and research. They also assist researchers looking for funding.
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