Swiss education system
Knowledge and talent are Switzerland's most important resources. The country enjoys a high quality and permeable education system, which lies under the shared responsibility of the federal government and the 26 cantons. Together, the cantonal education ministers form the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK), which plays an important role in discussing and coordinating education policy with the federal level. The system is therefore at the same time flexible, i.e. cantonal specificities can be taken into account, and well-coordinated. Education in Switzerland has been harmonised for compulsory education e.g., the school starting age, compulsory school attendance, the duration and objectives of the levels of education and the transitions between the levels of education.
Upper-secondary education includes two main paths: general upper-secondary-education, leading to the baccalaureate, and Vocational Education and Training (VET). Around two-thirds of a cohort of Swiss pupils pursue the VET pathway, which is of high quality and enjoys a good reputation. The majority of Swiss VET programmes follow a dual approach that combines practice with theory, i.e. students share their time between a company where they are hired and vocational school. The Swiss VET system is based on cooperation between the confederation, i.e. the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), the cantons and the professional organisations. A strong asset of the Swiss education system is that there is no 'dead-end path', i.e. bridges between VET and higher education exist.
On average, 90% of young people in Switzerland complete upper secondary education at the age of eighteen or nineteen and either start working or continue their education at a higher education institution. Switzerland counts ten cantonal universities, two federal institutes of technology, nine universities of applied sciences and fourteen universities of teacher education. Also situated at tertiary-level, Professional Education and Training (PET) provides already qualified workers with further professional qualifications that enable them to handle challenging specialised or managerial tasks.
In 2012, The Swiss Confederation expressed its wish to get associated to the European Programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport (Erasmus+) from 2014 to 2020. Following the adoption of the initiative against mass immigration on 9 February 2014, the negotiations between the EU and Switzerland on the association of Switzerland to Erasmus+ were suspended. You will find the latest update on the status of Swiss institutions in these programmes here.