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Swiss higher education: Getting closer to the EU?

On May 21st the Swiss population voted in favour of a constitutional amendment which gives the confederation the right to take decisions, in case the cantons do not achieve sufficient coordination, in some areas of higher education, namely recognition of achievements and diplomas, quality assurance, recognition and accreditation of higher education institutions.

According to ACA's Swiss member, the Rectors’ Conference of Swiss Universities (CRUS), the recent common initiative in creating bridges and open doors in the federalistic diversity of Switzerlands’ higher education system parallels the ongoing commitment in contributing to the development of the European Higher Education Area. CRUS states that the Swiss public is becoming increasingly aware of how much Switzerland needs to be entirely integrated into the European Research Framework and into the ongoing educational and mobility programmes.

Since Switzerland still is an “indirect partner” in the actual EU programmes, Swiss (so called non-EU) students sometimes face more problems within exchange agreements with European partners than EU citizens. Political support is not easy to obtain, since the Swiss government will have to co-finance the increase of research and education budgets of the EU. With respect to the Research Frame Programmes the Swiss parliament will have to decide on a financial participation corresponding to the new European budget in the winter 2006/07. 

The actual schedule for participation in the new generation of EU education programmes (LLL) is as follows (depending on the EU's decision on the budget for the new programme 2007-2013 in November 2006):

  • End 2006: Developing a mandate for negotiations between EU and Switzerland
  • Start 2007: Beginning of negotiations EU – Switzerland
  • Summer 2007: Message (“Botschaft”) and request of budget to the Swiss parliament - preparation of a Swiss agency for EU education programmes

A full participation of Switzerland might be possible at the beginning of 2008 (in the academic year 2008/09).

Rectors’ Conference of Swiss Universities (CRUS)