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Switzerland: The education options?

A general overview.

A Guide to Education Opportunities and Institutes in Switzerland

When it comes to living in a country apart from your own, there aren’t many countries that set the attraction bar as high as Switzerland does. With the most advanced living standards in the whole world, the country is able to attract throngs of visitors every year. While many of these visitors are tourists, there are some who are looking for a place to stay and work, preferably for the rest of their lives. It is certainly true that there isn’t a better option for retirement that one can find when comparing with Switzerland. However, while the move from one place to another may be easy for the adults themselves, it is their children who have to take on the major impact of a sudden change that is brought to their lives. The very first thing that gets affected is the child’s education and every parent wants to ensure that they continue to get the best possible education even after moving to another country. Fortunately for them, Switzerland has an extensive and well developed education system and below is a comprehensive overview.

General information

The education system in Switzerland is quite diverse. Given the multi-cultural society, the education system caters to all their needs by providing several options to choose from. You can find public, private, international and bilingual schools where you can apply wherever you feel your child can fit in and learn easily. As far as the standard of education is concerned, Switzerland is one of the top ranking countries in the world in terms of quality of education. No matter if it is primary, secondary or even university/further education, the level of education being imparted to students is kept up to date with the global requirements.

There are six basic levels of education that include Kindergarten, Secondary School, Apprenticeship, University/Further Education. After kindergarten, each level has its own specialized sub-divisions that cater to different career paths.

Difference between local and international schools

While the education that is provided to children in the different types of schools is pretty much the same, there are a couple of differences that stand out prominently. A major difference is that the education in almost all public schools is free for all students. However, bilingual, private and international schools tend to charge schooling fees for students against providing an environment that helps the students in transitioning into the Swiss education system. Teaching the child initially in a language and curriculum that is familiar to them is a major helping factor in helping them adjust.


While there may be a trend in several countries for the federal government to manage the education system centrally, that is not really the case for Switzerland. Switzerland has an overseeing body called the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) which is responsible for overseeing the education system in the country. However, the real power is held by each of the 26 cantons individually. They all make their own decisions regarding the education system in their region and have almost complete autonomy on all the decisions being made.

Since there are separate education departments operating on each canton, there is a visible difference in the teaching methods and curricula in each canton. However, there are some agreements between the different cantons regarding the curriculum to ensure a certain level of uniformity among them.

International schools

As far as expats are concerned, the most obvious choice for Education in Switzerland are international schools. These are institutions that allow your children to continue their education as they would in their homeland. The language and curriculum is the same as their own country and this is ideal for people who intend to take their children back to their own country for further education. The purpose is to not miss out on anything while being away from their own country. These schools however offer limited international courses and you need to check if the curriculum being followed in your country is taught or not. Furthermore, the seats are also limited so there is a lot of competition involved as well. One thing that must be noted is that international schools are just like private schools in Switzerland and the only distinction is that they offer either International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum or other foreign courses.

Private and bilingual schools

Private schools in Switzerland have a very high standard of education and several are renowned for their education globally as well. However, learning in a state of the art environment and in classes with a lower teacher to student ratio means you are gaining special privileges. This automatically translates into heavy schooling fees but for most people this is completely acceptable for the quality of education their kids receive.

Bilingual schools on the other hand are simply schools that teach the Swiss curriculum but in two different languages simultaneously. It can either be French & English or German & English, and in some cases it will be German & French. The type of bilingual structure varies from location to location and you can easily find the one that suits you best by doing a little research.

Your decision

The number of choices that you can look at when looking for education opportunities for your children in Switzerland are simply endless. All you need to do is look at the institutions operating in the area that you are going to move to. And then, depending on your budget and your choice of local or international education systems, you can easily find where your child will find the ultimate nourishment. If required there are professional Education consultants in most major population areas whom can assist in finding the right path.

If you have any questions or comments please do reach out to me.