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An Overview of the Switzerland Education System

The education in Switzerland is the responsibility of the cantons. Funding in the Switzerland education system is structured differently at each level of education. The educational institutions are mostly publicly maintained and are therefore mainly funded by the public sector. While the childcare and continuing education and training institutions are privately maintained.

Pre-School

Pre-School includes Kindergarten.  Pre-school promotes individual growth and societal learning and prepares kids for starting school. The cantons regulate pre-school in the cantonal education acts. 

Primary Education

Primary education includes primary schools. It begins at the age of six and is compulsory and free. Cantons and municipalities are in charge of coordinating and financing primary schools. Primary education develops and enhances the intellectual and creative skills of the children. Primary level education develops basic skills and a sense of responsibility in children towards themselves, the environment, their fellow human beings and society, and thus prepares them for further and lifelong learning.

Secondary and Post-Secondary Education

Lower secondary level is part of compulsory education and lasts for three to five years. It prepares students for vocational education and training (VET) or an upper secondary level general education school. Lower Secondary level provides basic general education.
Upper secondary level is part of the post-compulsory sector. It consists of both vocational education and training courses and general education programs
  • General Education Programs include courses at baccalaureate schools and upper secondary specialized schools). They prepare students for tertiary-level course of studies.
  • Vocational Education and Training courses include VET offered in the dual system or at full-time vocational schools. The training courses lead directly to professional activity and prepare for tertiary-level training courses.

There are four kinds of education open to the students at Upper Secondary Level (Secondary level II):

  • Apprenticeship: Students after completing compulsory education can go for apprenticeship. There are many recognized trades open to students.
  • Professional Baccalaureate: Students can opt for further courses of study to be eligible for Professional Baccalaureate.
  • Matura Schools: Also called as cantonal schools, grammar schools etc. The name varies depending on the cantons. It prepares students for Higher Education, i.e. University and develops broad general education in basic subjects.
  • Specialised Middle Schools: Includes both the general and specific subjects required for a particular profession.

Higher Education

The Higher Education or the tertiary level covers university courses and tertiary level B professional education and training. Higher Education consists of 10 cantonal universities, two federal institutes of technology. In the higher education sector, courses are completed at universities- seven state-run and two private universities of applied sciences, and at universities of teacher education. The universities are active primarily in basic research. The universities of applied sciences emphasize more on the professional activities and carry out applied research and development.

Tertiary level B professional education and training is carried out in the non-university sector. It provides training courses for demanding professional activities and management functions and serves management training and specialisation. Tertiary level B professional education and training includes training courses at colleges of professional education and training (PET colleges) as well as Federal and Advanced Federal PET Diploma Examinations.

Entry Requirements

Each level of education in Switzerland has varying requirements which must be met in order to gain entry at that level.
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