If you’re thinking of getting a Swiss education, then you are probably looking for an answer to the question - what is the education system in Switzerland?
The Swiss education system is globally recognized because of its high academic standards, excellent research outputs, and teaching methodologies. When you talk about schools in Switzerland, not only does the country have some of the best private schools as well as international schools, but it is also well known for its educational quality - from primary education and secondary schools to higher education and universities in Switzerland.
To understand their education system, it’s important to know that Switzerland is divided into 26 cantons (administrative regions). The cantons are largely responsible for their own school systems. However, while these cantons set their own standards, there are certain educational basics that need to be followed throughout the country, which are set by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). For instance, primary school is compulsory for all children, and state-run public schools provide free education.
How the education system works
Like most countries, in Switzerland too primary education is the first step in the learning journey for Swiss children. This is followed by lower secondary education, upper secondary education and then tertiary schools.
For primary schools, the minimum age is 6 years, and the Swiss students are separated according to the language they speak – German, Italian or French. They then go on to lower secondary school at the age of about 11, and this lasts three years (four years in some cantons). There is no examination at this level, and this marks the end of compulsory education.
Lower secondary school is followed by upper secondary level. This includes Baccalaureate schools, upper secondary specialized schools and vocational education schools.
When it comes to tertiary education, Switzerland education has a lot to offer. Swiss universities are a great option and offer a wide range to choose from. There are twelve state-run universities in Switzerland. Of the twelve, ten are managed by different cantons, and two are federal institutes of technology, managed directly by the government. The difference between them is not much, except that the latter are more in tune with American universities and make it easier for international students to transfer there. Then there are quite a few other universities of applied sciences and research.
Education in Switzerland is of a high standard, at all levels. In a survey conducted by OECD/PISA Switzerland ranked 9 out of 65 nations in educational standard for 15-year olds.