The «Brilliant» Named Switzerland. Part 5. Famous and Not So Well-known Elite Education

The education system in Switzerland is unique in its essence – it is a coexistence of educational methods of traditional Europe, American standards and local colorful specifics.

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Swiss education is distinguished by flexibility: the state in which there are four official languages can afford offering a wide variety of educational programs. The uniqueness of the Swiss education system is in the harmonious coexistence of educational methods of traditional Europe, American standards and local colorful specifics.

Trends of recent decades are as follows: more and more pupils and entrants who plan to study abroad choose Switzerland as the country for study. To date, the "customer base" has been already formed, represented by citizens of Russia and other CIS countries planning to send their children to get wise to this multilingual and multicultural country.

Reputation of Great Britain competing with Switzerland for the title of the "Boarding School of the Globe" has been "shaken" a bit - and this, despite the fact that the value of the Swiss secondary education is much higher than education in UK schools. For comparison, the study in prestigious Swiss boarding schools costs about $ 65,000 per year - the cost of study in a British boarding school rarely exceeds $ 55,000.

Swiss boarding schools are markedly different from British ones:  

  • In Switzerland, in fact, all schools are international, because they are oriented to foreigners - the percentage component of the local students is 'indecently' small

The British, on the other hand, limit the number of foreigners in their schools.  

  • One of the principles of the British education in schools is asceticism.  

Boarding schools in Switzerland resemble top ski resorts, with comfortably furnished rooms and thoughtful amenities.

  • Students of Swiss boarding schools spend a lot of time outdoors (often classes are held outdoors), go on hikes - many mountain trails pass right under the windows alma mater.

In the UK, of course, it is not easy to find hiking mountain trails - the British fill this gap with high-class sport-infrastructure, attracting clients with swimming pools and Olympic-level tennis courts, private stables, gyms and playgrounds.

  • Swiss teachers do not require from their students (especially elementary school students) to completely submit to the rigid discipline, being guided by the principle - potentials and abilities, if any, under any conditions have to show themselves for sure. As a result, Swiss primary school pupils are academically a little bit behind their school peers from other countries, but they easier learn languages and are in a better physical condition.
  • Everybody knows about the British "drill" in closed schools: academic performance in school, respect of strict regime and unconditional obedience - the three pillars serving as the basis of the whole system of the school education in the Kingdom.
  • The Swiss raise polyglots and cosmopolitans - the British want to turn all their wards into real "Anglo-Saxons"

Back in the mid-20th century, up to 20 national sections worked in Swiss schools and one could choose a program of any of the European states. Today, the Swiss education model can not boast such a variety, but the choices offered to a student, and the availability of several alternatives have remained a priority.

Today, the educational system of the Confederation is segmented and includes:

  • Swiss federal program MATURA;
  • Anglo-American program, the most popular among foreigners;
  • German, French and Italian programs, corresponding to the three official languages.

About two hundred and fifty private schools work in Switzerland, including:

  • about two hundred and fifty account for the French-language segment;
  • in German - less than a half;
  • Italian-speaking - almost 20 times less.

A Swiss boarding school among the Russian elite of all kinds is a fashion brand, a complex of ideas, associations, emotions and value characteristics uniquely including all the semantic elements related to the concept of "Swiss quality".

The "Land for the elite" – this is how landscaped and tranquil Switzerland is often called. In recent decades, the "Elite" has increased and Alpine republic is increasingly associated with the concept of "quality European education." To send a child to one of the famous Swiss boarding schools is today a measure of the parent’s consistency and a guarantor of the future child's success.

Swiss universities are not threatened by star fever yet. It so happened that it’s not known much about "big brothers" of Swiss boarding schools. That’s a paradox. The concept of "Swiss university" is known to all, just like cheese, chocolate and Rolex. And not just known. Mention of a University of Switzerland often "calls" a long series of semantic associations from the depths of the subconscious, but quite vague: one of those who loves "digging" in oneself will remember about famous psychoanalyst Freud, others will mention about Einstein, alleging, that the "father" of the theory of relativity had something to do with Switzerland, there are those who, will not say anything at all. Fortunately, there are not so many of the last ones. But the fact remains the fact, it is not much known about the Swiss universities, which walls released more than a dozen of Nobel laureates, than about the boarding schools already promoted by our "elite" of all kinds. And the paradox is that the popularity and prestige, despite what has been said, grows exponentially - both in the Confederation, and all over the world. Accordingly, the number of applicants increases: about 18% of Swiss university students are foreigners, and at the famous University of Geneva, this figure reaches 35. A diploma of graduation from a foreign university is a quality certificate with all the consequences; the diploma certifying that the "Temple of Science", "got lost" among the Alps, has been your second home for some time - it is a tangible proof of the “Swiss style” “SUPER quality”.

The Swiss are always glad to see foreign students in the walls of their universities. And that’s a given - it's the most multicultural and multilingual country in continental Europe. A tiny territory, and four national languages. Tolerance - more than enough!

Some restrictions for students from abroad are still there. Young fans of Aesculapius, of those who were not lucky to be born in this unique country, will have to forget about blue lakes, beautiful alpine scenery and purest Swiss air for a while. Doctors are at a premium here, and the art of "healing" brings such income that there are not enough vacancies at medical universities for their own students. For a foreigner to learn to be a doctor in Switzerland is something like pure fiction. Alas, foreigners can’t even hope to get such specialties as a dentist or veterinary doctor, any others are welcome!  

University education in Switzerland is represented by 10 cantonal universities (Basel, Bern and Zurich Universities, the Universities of Geneva, Lugano, Lausanne, Lucerne, Neuchatel, St. Gallen, Fribourg) and 2 Federal Technological Institutes (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and Eidgnoessiche Technische Hochschule, Zurich). And also: university-level institutes (the most famous one is the Geneva University of International Relations), universities of applied sciences, music and arts universities, teacher training institutes. The list includes all educational institutions accredited by the Swiss University Conference (SUC) - a joint organization of the cantons and the Swiss Confederation, coordinating universities and controlling the quality of education.

In the early 90's, the "Swiss Education" was extremely popular among "new Russians", who wanted to get "all and all" for themselves and their descendants. The main thing – it must be elite and expensive. Always extremely tolerant Swiss, having experienced "cultural shock", tightened the rules of selection of students to educational institutions.

Today, the picture has changed. Now students of elite schools of Switzerland are children and grandchildren of the people who, regardless of the kind of their business, managed to fit into the system of European standards and values successfully and long before.

Previous articles:

The «Brilliant» Named Switzerland. Part 1. On Oligarchs, Taxes and Banks ->

The «Brilliant» Named Switzerland. Part 2. A Perfect place for a SecureLlife ->

The «Brilliant» Named Switzerland. Part 3. Tourism and Hospitality ->

The «Brilliant» Named Switzerland. Part 4. Swiss Healthcare and Medical Tourism ->