Switzerland’s hopes of rejoining Erasmus+ are fading fast
As the country faces a crisis over its relationship with the European Union, there are fresh questions arising about Swiss student mobility across the bloc, despite having been excluded from the EU’s Erasmus+ programme since 2014.
What’s next for international students in Switzerland?
Since the Erasmus+ programme was terminated for Switzerland in 2014, there were many hopes that the initiative would be reintroduced, with new agreements made between the trade bloc and Switzerland. The pair have however recently suffered a setback in negotiations and a decline in friendly relations after Switzerland voted not to implement a wide-scope agreement to bring the two into closer cooperation.
The Erasmus+ programme has provided the opportunity for more than three million students to study or take on a placement abroad since its introduction in 1987, and has therefore provided Switzerland's students with opportunities to travel abroad. The programme has also brought many international students to Swiss universities from EU countries.
Switzerland's replacement system for scholarships, the Swiss-European Mobility Programme (SEMP) has been criticised as not comprehensive or compatible with the old scheme, with funding restricted to only a few hundred students a year.
With around 25.000 international students in Switzerland, and many Swiss students taking part on student exchanges across the EU and beyond, it looks as though student mobility agreements will become more difficult to find.
The nation’s relationship with the EU was pushed into the spotlight earlier in 2021
Switzerland’s relationship with the EU has come under increased security across the globe since May 2021, after the Swiss government decided not to proceed with the creation of an Institutional Framework Agreement (IFA) with the EU.
The IFA would essentially have united over 120 sector-specific agreements into one and paved the way for future agreements between the EU and Switzerland. The agreement would have covered five key themes: free movement of persons, mutual recognition of industrial standards, agricultural products, air transport and land transport.
As Swiss voters continue to debate the merits of further EU integration and politicians stall on the issue, it is unclear whether the EU will continue to collaborate with Switzerland in the close way that the pair have worked before.