Apart from the qualities visible to the naked eye which Switzerland offers, their education system is the cherry on top of the pie. The Swiss higher education has a few hundred-year-old roots, now. But, the undeniable quality is not all there is to universities in Switzerland.
The Swiss believe that attending university shouldn’t mean one needs to break the bank. They believe higher education should be a choice people should make themselves, and if they do, to be able to afford it. This is why, it is estimated that by 2037, half of the population aged 25 to 65 will have a tertiary level qualification. And, this is achievable because almost all of the Swiss universities are funded by taxpayers’ money.
The low cost, paired with the fact that Swiss schools have an array of programs and a reputation of excellence, makes Switzerland a hot-spot for international students seeking education abroad. With all the academic values they have, Swiss universities, and Swiss people in general, are known to embrace diversity. This essentially means that they provide a taste of cultural variety, they also offer top-notch education.
Are There Tuition-Free Swiss Universities for International Students?
Well, technically, no, there aren’t any universities in Switzerland that are entirely free of cost. This is not only the case with international students, but there are also no free programs for nationals. This is not to say there isn’t a way of getting a free Swiss education; it’s just not handed out on a silver platter. What this means is, the way to a free Swiss degree is through a scholarship.
Although most of the universities in Switzerland are generally cheap, sometimes that alone isn’t enough. That’s why a lot of Swiss universities offer scholarships. These scholarships will usually cover all the tuition fees and most of the additional annual expenses of living and studying in Switzerland.
Universities aren’t the only place that students can turn to for scholarships, the government offers their own portion of them. However, governmental scholarships are usually given out to postgraduates and researchers.
In comparison to other countries with world-renowned universities, Switzerland offers exceptionally cheap tuition fees to their students. One of the prime examples is the difference between Swiss annual tuition fees and those of the US.
As we can see from the graph, the cheapest universities in Switzerland are public institutions, and they are far less costly than state colleges in the US.
Cheapest Universities in Switzerland
By now, we have established that Switzerland is a treasure-box of low-cost options for higher education. However, there are some that beat the rest in that area – by a mile. And while they offer cheaper programs, it is worth noting that this doesn’t affect their value in any way.
Also, keep in mind that some fields of study will be costly, no matter which institution you end up choosing. And, tuition costs differ depending on the department.
1. The University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland
The University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland is spread across seven cantons of western Switzerland—Bern, Freiburg, Geneva, Valais, Jura, Neuchâtel, and Vaud. This university was founded in 1998 and has since then become a place known for innovation, ideas, skills, knowledge, and creativity.
Tuition fee: CHF 500 for both Swiss and non-Swiss students (per semester)
2. University of Geneva
The University of Geneva was founded in 1559. To this day, it is a high-rated spot for researchers. In this Swiss university, you can pursue the fields of law, political science, economics, etc. University of Geneva offers low-cost but high quality.
Tuition fee: 500 CHF for both Swiss and non-Swiss students (per semester)
3. University of Lausanne
Apart from being a higher education institution made up of seven faculties, University of Lausanne is also a well-known research institute. Their main campus is located along the shore of Lake Geneva. In addition to the great view, they provide world-class education and research in three main subjects: life sciences and medicine, human and social sciences, and environmental sciences.
Tuition fee: CHF 580 for both Swiss and non-Swiss students (per semester)
4. University of Neuchâtel
University of Neuchâtel is located in the town it shares its name with. The university is made up of four faculties and it was created back in 1838 under the name Academy of Neuchatel. Their four faculties include the Faculty of Law, The Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Science, and the Faculty of Economics and Business.
Tuition fee: CHF 950 for Swiss students, CHF 1540 for non-Swiss students (per year)
5. ETH Zurich
Apart from being a research institute and open to both nationals and foreigners, ETH Zurich is also one of the oldest universities in Switzerland. They offer merit scholarships and even a scholarship calculator with which a student can see what kind of scholarship they would be eligible for. ETH Zurich is ranked as one of the top universities in the world.
Tuition fee: CHF 1,298 for both Swiss and non-Swiss students (per year)
6. University of Basel
University of Basel is the oldest university in Switzerland, as it was founded around 550 years ago. While offering a wide range of academic disciplines, the university is also regularly placed among the top 100 universities in the world.
Tuition fee: CHF 850 for both Swiss and non-Swiss students (per semester)
7. University of Bern
The University of Bern is a public institution, and it was established back in 1843. You can pick and choose your field from Theology to Veterinary. The University of Bern, along with the University of Zurich, is the first in Switzerland to offer a continuing study in gender-specific medicine. Also, it is continuously ranked among the top 200 universities in the world.
Tuition fee: CHF 750 for Swiss students, CHF 950 for non-Swiss students (per semester)
8. University of Fribourg
Whether you are interested in learning, research, or employment, University of Fribourg offers all three. The university was founded back in 1889 and prides itself on innovative ways of teaching and growing. This has made the university very influential in the region and brings in students both from Switzerland and different parts of the world.
Tuition fee: CHF 835 for Swiss students, CHF 985 for non-Swiss students (per semester)
9. Zurich University of the Arts
Zurich University of the Arts is one of the leading universities of art in Europe. They offer both studying and research programs that cover many art areas—film, design, fine arts, dance, theatre, music, transdisciplinary studies, and teaching of design and art.
Tuition fee: CHF 750 for Swiss students, 1,250 for non-Swiss students (per semester)
10. University of St. Gallen
University of St. Gallen is one of the leading business schools in Switzerland. They offer a variety of majors and are very open to international students. Although they don’t offer scholarships, they do have a number of exchange programs, and their degree holds up in both Swiss and international job markets.
Tuition fee: CHF 1,229 for Swiss students, CHF 3,126 for non-Swiss students (per semester)
11. The American Graduate School of Business
The American Graduate School of Business is an excellent choice for those seeking an English program in Switzerland. They offer business & management programs and can provide bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. This university does not grant full scholarships, as it is not funded by the government, but they do, however, grant partial scholarships for which you can apply through the financial aid program.
Tuition fee: 25,000 CHF for undergraduate, 17,500 CHF for graduate (in total)
12. Geneva Business School
Geneva Business School is a Swiss business school that offers great programs with great prices. They have campuses in Geneva, Barcelona, Madrid, Astana, and Yangon, making it possible for students to study outside of Switzerland, and still get a Swiss degree. They promise innovative ways of studying and integrating students in the job market. Plus, they are one of the best business schools in Switzerland.
Tuition fee: CHF 7,350 (per semester)
13. State Tourism and Hotel Management School
State Tourism And Hotel Management School is a Swiss hospitality school that falls on the cheaper spectrum. This university is located in Bellinzona which is a small gem in southern Switzerland with three UNESCO World Heritage castles in it. So, apart from education, there are many sight-seeing opportunities when studying there.
Tuition fee: under CHF 18,000
Beyond tuition fees, Switzerland can be quite a pricey country to live in. Their delicious food, great transportation system, and quality watches, all come at a price. They put a low price on education (and rightly so), but with everything else, it’s a different story.
As a student living in Switzerland, the monthly expenses are around CHF 2,500, and that is excluding all the recreational activities they might partake in and tuition fees. But, on the bright side, students can work and study at the same time, and students can apply for financial aid or scholarships. All in all, unlike popular belief, Switzerland does have a reputation for being the cheapest among developed countries in something—and what an amazing thing it is that that something is education.