From Researching Virtual Initiatives in Education
For entities in Switzerland see Category:Switzerland
Partners in Switzerland
Switzerland in a nutshell
It is bordered by Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein. Switzerland has a long history of neutrality — it has not been at war since 1815 — and hosts many international organizations, including the Red Cross, the World Trade Organization and one of the U.N.'s two European offices. Switzerland is multilingual and has four national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. The country's formal name is Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft in German, Confédération suisse in French, Confederazione Svizzera in Italian and Confederaziun svizra in Romansh. The establishment of Switzerland is traditionally dated to August 1, 1291; the first of August is the national holiday.
The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the states of the federal state of Switzerland. Each canton has its own constitution, legislature, government and courts. Most of the cantons' legislatures are unicameral parliaments, their size varying between fifty-eight and two hundred seats. A few legislatures are general assemblies known as Landsgemeinden. The cantonal governments consist of either five or seven members, depending on the canton. For the names of the institutions, see List of legislative and executive councils of the Cantons of Switzerland.
The Swiss Federal Constitution declares the cantons to be sovereign to the extent their sovereignty is not limited by federal law. The cantons also retain all powers and competencies not delegated to the Confederation by the Constitution. Most significantly, the cantons are responsible for healthcare, welfare, law enforcement and public education; they also retain the power of taxation. The cantonal constitutions determine the degree of autonomy accorded to the municipalities, which varies but almost always includes the power to levy taxes and pass municipal laws. The sizes of the cantons vary from 37 km² to 7,105 km²; the populations vary from 14,900 to 1,244,400.
As on the federal level, all cantons provide for direct democracy. Citizens may demand a popular vote to amend the cantonal constitution or laws, or to veto laws or spending bills passed by the parliament. General popular assemblies (Landsgemeinde) are now limited to the cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden and Glarus. In all other cantons democratic rights are exercised by secret ballot.
Swiss education policy
The competences in the educational system are distributed between the Confederation, cantons and the municipalities. The responsibility for the legal implementation, financing and execution vary depending on the type of educational level and the respective educational facility. The primary responsibility for education lies within the cantons. A goal of the Federal constitution is that "children and adolescents as well as those who have reached an employable age can receive education, vocational education and further education according to their capabilities", and that "children and adolescents shall be encouraged in their development into independent and socially responsible individuals and shall be supported in their social, cultural and political integration" (Federal Constitution Article 41, Paragraph 1 Letters f and g).
Responsibilities of the cantons and the municipalities
The cantonal school law is implemented largely via the educational department in the cantons. The educational departments determine the curricula, official teaching material and the sizes of the classes. Amongst other institutions, the municipalities manage the kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools, and are supported in this by the school commission and the Schulpflege (school council). These represent the local school authorities and have the responsibility for the premises and the acquisition of teaching aids. In some cases they also select the teachers or possess control functions. Parents may also be represented in the school commission and school council.
Cooperation between the cantons and the school concordat
The inter-cantonal cooperation and school coordination is one of the tasks of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK). All cantonal government members responsible for education, literacy, culture and sport are represented in the EDK. The EDK encourages and obligates the cantons to cooperation and harmonisation (e.g. with regard to reforms, cooperation in the area of planning, research, school statistics). Basic instruments of the EDK are the intern-cantonal agreements and the concordat supported recommendation. Inter-cantonal agreements are government contracts between the cantons (qualification agreements and the terms of their implementation, e.g. the recognition regulation for the professional training of teachers, financing and freedom of movement agreements such as the inter-cantonal university agreement). Furthermore, the EDK releases curricula for certain vocational studies. The school concordat of 1970 is the legal basis of the EDK. This generally obliges the cantons to cooperative measures in the field of education. The school concordat regulates the beginning and duration of the school year, the age of enrolment at school and the length of the compulsory schooling. An enhancement of the school concordat from 1970 is being planned. The new intern-cantonal agreement for the harmonisation of the compulsory school of the EDK will regulate important new benchmarking figures of the compulsory school (enrolment age, earlier and more flexible school enrolment, length of compulsory schooling period) and provides the educational standards that must be accomplished.
Responsibility of the Confederation
The Confederation issues regulations for the professional education system at the upper secondary level as well as the tertiary level and is responsible for the Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH) (including research promotion). The Confederation is also responsible for the universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen - FH). The Confederation and the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) regulate the Matura recognition jointly. On a federal level, the Federal Department for Home Affairs (EDI) - and in particular the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) - are responsible for the following areas: Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH), university aid, scholarships, science and research as well as the reorganisation of the Swiss university system, in collaboration with the cantons and the universities. The Federal Department for Economics (EDV) or the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology (BBT) regulates vocational education and manages the universities of applied sciences. The Federal Department for Defence, Civil Protection and Sports (VBS) or the Federal Office of Sports (BASPO) is responsible for sport.
Description of the Educational System in Switzerland
The education system in Switzerland is very diverse, because the constitution of Switzerland delegates the authority for the school system to the cantons (Federal Constitution Article 62). The Swiss constitution sets the foundations, namely that primary school is obligatory for every child and is free in public schools and that the confederation can run or support universities. Swiss people have voted on May 21, 2006 to reform the education system in one common program for all the cantons. Because of its diversity, there are many private international schools in Switzerland that encourage respect for all cultures.
The minimum age for primary school is about six years in all cantons but Obwalden, where it is five years and three months. Any boy or girl can take part in school if they choose to, but kids are separated depending on whether they speak French, German or Italian. Primary school continues until grade four or five, depending on the school.
At the end of primary school (or at the beginning of secondary school), pupils are separated according to their capacities in several (often three) sections. The best students are taught advanced classes to be prepared for further studies and the matura, while students who assimilate a little bit more slowly receive an education more adapted to their needs. In PISA science literacy assessment, 15-year-old students in Switzerland had the 16th highest average score of 57 countries.
The first university in Switzerland was founded in 1460 in Basel, with a faculty of medicine. This place has a long tradition of chemical and medical research in Switzerland. Other large universities are the ETHZ in Zürich and the EPFL in Lausanne. There are 14 Universities in Switzerland, 10 of which are maintained at cantonal level and usually offer a range of non-technical subjects. Switzerland has the second highest rate of foreign students in tertiary education, after Australia.
Many Nobel prizes were awarded to Swiss scientists, for example to the world-famous physicist Albert Einstein or more recently to Heinrich Rohrer also in the field of physics. Geneva host the world's largest particle physics laboratory, the CERN. An other important research center is the Paul Scherrer Institute which is under the responsibility of the Board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology.
After visiting Kindergarten children in Switzerland enter primary school at minimum age of six. The school attendance is obligatory and free of charge and lasts six years in 20 of the cantons and in the other cantons four or five years. The organization and financing of the primary schools is incumbent on responsibility of cantons and municipalities. The children attend principally schools in their place of residence. At the primary level is no classification concerning types of schools with achievement groups.
Lower secondary level
The obligatory school system includes in addition to primary education also a lower secondary level (secondary education I). The lower secondary level provides a basic general education free of charge. There gained knowledge shall prepare for apprenticeship or attendance of secondary schools (“Maturitätsschulen“, “Fachmittelschulen”). Analogue to primary level the cantons and municipalities support the schools of the lower secondary level. In addition the cantons determine the learning targets and regulate the curricula. In 20 cantons the lower secondary level begins with the seventh class, in six cantons with the fifth or sixth class. At the lower secondary level the pupils are usually between 12 and 16 years of age. The majority of cantons sub-divide the lower secondary level into two to three different types of schools as follows:
This school type provides the practical abilities and the general education of the pupils and prepare for apprenticeship.
This school type improves the general education and prepare for secondary schools and vocational basic education.
This school type with higher courses exhibits highest level and usually prepares pupils for Matura schools, intermediate diploma schools, for vocational full-time schools, or for more demanding apprenticeship.
This dividing model offers low opportunities of permeability so in the different cantons tests are being made with different models without different types of schools on the lower secondary level.
Upper secondary level
After nine years of compulsory education, adolescents can pass over to the upper secondary level. The secondary education level II can be split up into general education and vocational education offers. Students can visit “Matura” schools or specialized middle schools depending on whether they prepare for academic studies or higher vocational education. The different education offers at upper secondary level lasts from two to four years. Approx. 90% of the adolescents in Switzerland graduate with a certificate.
Tertiary education depends on the education chosen in secondary education. For students with a matura, university is the most common one. Apprentices who did a vocational high school will often add a Fachhochschule (university of applied sciences) or a Höhere Fachschule (higher university of applied sciences) to their curriculum. Switzerland has the second highest rate of foreign students in tertiary education, after Australia.
The Swiss higher education system is currently facing a tremdeous change. With the foundation of Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Scienes) and Pädagogische Hochschulen (teacher training colleagues) higher education has been diversified, thus expanding the existing offer. The declaration of Bologna includes a drastic change in the landscape of higher education in Switzerland in order to meet the common goals by the year 2010.
At the moment 10 cantonal universities take part of the higher education system of Switzerland (Neuchâtel, Freiburg, Lausanne, Geneva, Bern, Zürich, St. Gallen, Basel, Luzern, Svizzera italiana), two technichal universities (Lausanne und Zürich), the Pädagogische Hochschule St. Gallen and eight federally accredited Fachhochschulen (Bern, Suisse occidentale, Nordwestschweiz, Zentralschweiz, Ostschweiz, Zürich, Université professionnelle de la Suisse italienne und Kalaïdos). Moreover, some integrated Fachhochschule and a few non-integrated Pädagogische Fachhochschule also belong to the higher education system. Private Institutions are:
Here you can find the Educational Statistics of 2006 of the swiss Federal Statistical Office (in English language).
Universities and institutes
Universities of applied sciences
Since 1997 the Swiss higher education landscape has received a second university type in addition to the traditional universities. These are the universities of applied sciences (FH), originating from a concentration of around 70 specialist schools (technical schools, higher commercial schools, etc). The brief of the universities of applied sciences (FH) is to offer practical and application-orientated university-level studies for graduates of vocational education.
Universities of teacher education (PH) also belong to the universities of applied sciences (FH). They are responsible for the training of the teachers.
Main task and general conditions:
The cantonal universities offer courses in theology, humanities and social science, mathematics and natural science, law, economics, medicine and pharmaceuticals, the Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH) offer courses in natural and engineering science, architecture, mathematics, pharmaceutical science as well as sport and military science. 9251 university diplomas / degrees are expected were achieved in 2005.
7889 university diplomas were issued in 2005.
In 2006 a total of 166,449 students attended a Swiss university facility, approx. two thirds of these attended a university and almost one third a university of applied sciences (FH).
The oldest university in Switzerland was founded in 1460 in Basel. Five of the ten cantonal universities are situated in the German-speaking part of Switzerland: the Universities of Basel, Bern, Lucerne, St. Gallen and Zurich. The University of Freiburg is located in the bilingual canton Freiburg (French and German). The Universities of Geneva, Lausanne and Neuchâtel are located in French-speaking Switzerland and the Università della Svizzera Italiana is situated in Ticino in the Italian-speaking part of the country. In addition there are the two Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH) in Lausanne and Zurich as well as the four research institutes belonging to the ETH domain: Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Federal Institute for Material Testing and Research (EMPA) and the Federal Research Institute for Water Supply, Wastewater Treatment and Water Pollution Control (EAWAG).
Also available: Situation and size of the "Universitäre Hochschulen" in Switzerland in 2007 (PDF), 1 page
The "Foundation Fernstudien Schweiz" and other Confederation-recognised universities
In addition to the higher education institutions mentioned above, there is also a private foundation for distance learning, "The Foundation Fernstudien Schweiz" which was recognised by the Confederation in 2004.
The following universities have also been recognised by the Confederation.
Core mandates and general requirements
The Bologna Process
The coordination of implementation of the Bologna-Declaration at institutions of higher education in Switzerland lies since 1999 with CRUS (Rectors' Conference of Swiss Universities)while the Rector' Conference of the Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences (KFH) has overall responsibility for this project organisation at universities of applied sciences.
In December 2002 guidelines of implementation standards for universities of applied sciences and universities of education were decreed by the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK).Thus, the entering of two-staged system of study was passed.
The implementation at universities of applied sciences was started in autumn 2005 with enactment of partly revised universities of applied sciences act. Center stage takes the two-staged system of study: Bachelor and Master. Furthermore the course achievement shall taken in account according to the pan-European effective system of credit points (ECTS). In order to insure the quality of offerings for education the Bologna Process is guided tightly by the Confederate Commission of Universities of Applied Sciences. For this purpose an evalutation of bachelor courses was commissioned to review the capability concepts and requirements.
Administration and finance
Virtual learning Initiatives in Switzerland
Since 1992 the Canton Valais – situated in the Southwest of Switzerland – pursues as a non-university Canton an active university policy. One of the priorities is the promotion of distance teaching. For this purpose three institutions have been established in the last years:
Since Switzerland as a small country will not build up a distance university of its own, a co-operation model was chosen.
The Foundation Fernstudien Schweiz has close co-operations with the FernUniversität in Hagen, the French universities of Besançon, Grenoble, Dijon and the Centre National d’Enseignement à Distance, the Canadian Télé-Université, and the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities.
In the area of the university of applied science exist co-operations with different distance teaching networks. As most important partners the following are to be called: The Institut für Verbundstudien der Fachhochschulen (institute for network studies of the universities of applied science) Northrhine-Westphalia Iserlohn, the Zentralstelle für Fernstudien an Fachhochschulen ZFH Koblenz (central office for distance teaching at the university of applied science) and the Fernstudienagentur FHTW, Berlin (distance teaching agency).
By these activities both institutions form a national competence centre within the area of distance study and distance teaching, which includes all educational sectors.
Important virtual learning opportunities in Switzerland
Since 2004 the Fernfachhochschule Schweiz is a part of the Scuola Universitaria profession ale della Svizzera Italiana (SUPSI) approved by the Bundesrat. So it is integrated into the whole strategy of the SUPSI. The offer of the SUPSI is aimed traditionally on the Italian language area of Switzerland. Now with her partial school the SUPSI has got a foot in the door of German-speaking Switzerland. Besides it profits from the correspondence course competence of the FFHS.
Approximately 600 students are enrolled at the FFHS. The number of students is rising. In May 2008 201 people had registred newly for bachelor- or master-degrees.
On average two saturdays a months students (depending on there home-region) meet in regional centres Zürich, Bern, Basel or Brig for attendance-courses. For this two-week-model it comes to a dilatation of the academic year: A "Semester" (term) starts around one month before a Semester in a typical full-time-Fachhochschule and takes 18 weeks instead of 15. Students of the FFHS start their studies with 29 years of age in average, 40 per cent of them are married, and only 27 per cent are female. Most are living close to Zürich.
2) 1318 students (1571 including continuing education) were studying with the Foundation Fernstudien Schweiz in 2007; 955 in German language, 363 in French. The Foundation has got close cooperations with other Swiss and European universities (see above). It runs own bachelor-programs in Swiss Law, psychology and economics and many more in cooperation with German an French universities, especially with the FernUniversität in Hagen. There are study-centres in Brig, Pfäffikon and Sierre.
3) The “virtual” network of universities of applied sciences "Hochschulverbund Virtuelle Fachhochschule" (VFH) offers two online-study-programs since winter-term 2001/2002: „Medieninformatik“ (media informatics) and "Wirtschaftsingenieurwesen" (industrial engineering and management).
At the moment seven German universities of applied sciences (from different “Länder”) make part of the alliance as well as two associated institutions – one of them is the Fernfachhochschule Brig (see above).
4) The Federal Program Swiss Virtual Campus (SVC) promotes Communication Technology (ICT) based eLearning at Swiss Universities. While boosting e-learning resource production and application efficiency in general the awarding of European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) recognition for successful course completion is targeted. Thus the strategies of the Swiss Virtual Campus go hand in hand with the implementation of the Bologna resolution.
http://www.edk.ch/dyn/11586.phpThe Swiss education system
http://www.educa.ch/dyn/129983.aspDetailed overview of the Swiss education system
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Switzerland Education in Switzerland from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/de/index/themen/15.html Information by the Federal Office of Statistics
http://www.educa.ch/dyn/152941.aspOverview Swiss Universities
http://www.crus.ch/homenavigation/home.html?L=2 Information by the Rectors´Conference of the Swiss Universities
See also links in the text.