Swiss students with migration backgrounds underperforming in school, study shows

Swiss students with migration backgrounds underperforming in school, study shows

A new report from the Cantonal Public Education Authorities (CDIP) has found that those born in Switzerland to Swiss families tend to perform better at school than expats and Swiss citizens with a migration background. Experts have pointed to socio-economic disadvantages and language competence as the main reasons for the difference.

Secondary school pass rate in Switzerland is below target

In the report, the CDIP announced that some improvements still need to be addressed within the Swiss school system. Specifically, the report noted that the secondary school graduate rate in Switzerland remains at 91,4 percent, below the government’s target of 95 percent.

The authorities explained that pass rates vary significantly depending on the type of training course chosen, the educational path taken by students and the Swiss canton that controls the scheme. However, in the same statement, officials admitted that one of the largest disparities in pass rates was by nationality.

Non-Swiss and naturalised students suffer from lower pass rates

They noted that “migration status” was one of the main factors in varying graduation rates, with Swiss citizens born in the country more likely to pass than naturalised citizens and those who hold residence permits. They found that the longer a student has lived in Switzerland before the exam, the more likely they are to pass.

While the CDIP itself did not give a reason for the disparity, 20 Minuten pointed to an OECD study from 2018, which noted that students of foreign origin have more difficulty at schools in Switzerland than Swiss-born pupils. For example, children who arrive in Switzerland later on in their education aren't given adequate support to study or take exams in German, French or Italian

Socioeconomic disadvantages were also noted as a key reason for the disparity - a study from the Federal Statistical Office in 2017 found that the poverty rate among non-European residents was 11,7 percent, significantly higher than the rate among locals (7 percent). This can have knock-on effects on the readiness of students and the resources afforded to them at home, which can lead to lower attendance rates and lower grades.

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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