Swiss universities popular with international students despite COVID-19

Swiss universities popular with international students despite COVID-19

Universities in Switzerland have proven popular with international students once again, despite the COVID-19 pandemic hampering global travel and domestic public health measures restricting classes in Switzerland. 

Thousands of international students came to study in Switzerland

Data from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) shows that in 2020, around 12.300 new international students enrolled in degree programmes at Swiss universities. The data shows a 4 percent increase on the previous year, in spite of international COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

According to the statistics, the number of international students coming to study in Switzerland between 2017 and 2020 rose by approximately 13 percent. The pandemic, though widely impactful in terms of international travel, has only had a slight effect on the number of students arriving from outside Europe. 

“Their number has slightly decreased in certain universities, but this decrease has often been offset by an increase in the number of students from neighbouring countries,” the FSO wrote.

Most international students in Switzerland come to study at PhD level

The majority of students coming to Switzerland do so in order to pursue a PhD, with around 50 percent of international students in the country currently enrolled in PhD programmes. As for the rest of the student population, 15 percent are enrolled in Bachelor programmes, and another 20 percent are pursuing a Master’s degree or MBA qualification.

Two-thirds of international students came to Switzerland for the sole purpose of studying, but a further 16 percent of international students had not intended to study in Switzerland when they first arrived in the country. This was found to be more often the case for women, who moved to join family who are residents of Switzerland - approximately 10 percent of women, compared to just 3 percent of men. 

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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