Education System in Switzerland

Primary Education

Switzerland is a confederation of cantons with a surprising degree of administrative independence. The central government has established the principle that all children must attend school for a total of 9 years and that primary school is free. Hence what follows is just a generic summary.  

Primary school lasts for between 4 to 6 years most likely following 2 to 3 years in kindergarten. Here is the intention is to provide a basic academic education, while assessing the future path of each child individually.

Secondary Education

There is no clearly defined middle school phase although some flavors do exist. Students with an eye on tertiary education enter gymnasiums for 6 years. Those more interested in a practical career spend just 3 years at secondary school before splitting away for vocational training. During this initial phase they may be subdivided into separate school types according to performance levels, although this is not always the case.

Vocational Education

Vocational education is regulated by federal law and based on a partnership between business and public schools. The former provide the educational job positions while the latter offer mandatory job-related lessons. If successfully completed, students may proceed to fachhochschulen which provide a third level of practical education

Tertiary Education

Switzerland EducationThere are 12 public and generic universities, 10 of which are maintained by cantons and provide non-technical training. The other two are institutes of technology.

The original tertiary institution is the University of Basel founded in 1460. This has a proud history of chemical and medical research, and has contributed a number of the nation’s 113 Nobel Prize winners.

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