EPFL moves to cap the number of international student applicants

EPFL moves to cap the number of international student applicants

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) has announced its intention to curb the number of international students able to apply to attend the university. The institution said that it has to cut back on admissions due to strains on its workers and facilities.

EPFL reports being a victim of its own success

In the statement, the EPFL said that it had been a “victim of its own success.” In the last 12 years, the number of students attending the university has more than doubled from 5.283 in 2010 to 10.894 in 2023. Indeed, the university predicted that it would have to expand its student body by 30 percent a year if it wanted to fill the demand.

As a result of the rapid growth, EPFL said that excessive strain had been put on both its faculty and facilities. “Our lecture halls are saturated, the student-faculty ratio is on the rise and the workload for our support services has expanded considerably.” They added that the large number of students has also made it difficult to maintain standards - in the latest Times University ranking, EPFL was rated as the second-best university in Switzerland and the 33rd-best in the world.

International bachelor’s degree applicants to be limited in Lausanne

Therefore, the EPFL has submitted a proposal, calling for a limit on the number of international students able to start a bachelor’s degree. This would be set at 3.000 per year from 2025, for an initial period of four years. By law, those with qualifications given by the Swiss school system, whether earned by a Swiss citizen or holder of a residence permit, would not be impacted by the limit.

The EPFL said it hoped that rule would help “preserve the quality of the diploma that our students receive.” Pierre Dillenbourg, EPFL’s associate vice president for education, added they wanted to stabilise the situation and ensure that every person admitted is given the “best possible conditions for study.”

The consultation on the proposal is due to end on March 18, with the plan then set to be brought to the Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology - a body entirely controlled by the Swiss government. They are expected to make their decision on the proposal in the second half of 2024.

Thumb image credit: Peeradontax /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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