Swiss students do not do enough internships abroad

Not all Swiss students have the same chance to go abroad. In French-speaking Switzerland, EPFL students travel more than at the Universities of Friborg or Neuchâtel. Few universities achieve their mobility goals. According to the national strategy of the confederation and the cantons and the objectives of the Bologna process, 20% of the graduates must have studied or practiced abroad. However, according to the first internationalization index of Swiss universities published on Thursday by the national agency Movetia, the average of Swiss universities is 15.7%.

Of the 36 institutions studied, only the University of St-Gall (53%), the EPF Lausanne (32%), the University of Teacher Education St-Gall (28%) and the Italo-Swiss University (26%) It exceeds the 20% mark, that is, more than nine universities. It is followed by the University of Applied Sciences in Western Switzerland, ETH Zurich and the University of Geneva with 18%. 16% in Lausanne, 10% in Friborg and Bern and 9% in Neuchâtel.

“It’s like Erasmus+ AG”

Movetia notes that the ranking is independent of the type of higher education institution (university, specialist or teacher training college) and does not depend on the size, age or language region of the institution. And it should be emphasized that this shows that all types of institutions in all linguistic regions can achieve high mobility indicators.

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The European Erasmus+ program enables international cooperation in education, but Switzerland has not been associated with it since 2014. The impact of this non-association is difficult to measure scientifically, but “if Switzerland were still part of the organization, the rates would be undeniably higher. Olivier Tschopp, director of Movetia, told Keystone-ATS about the program. An alternative program has been developed, but it is more restrictive. “Erasmus+ is like a general subscription that Switzerland is no longer entitled to. He has to be content with course subscriptions”, – description of Olivier Tschopp.

Specifically, instead of being part of a multilateral program, Swiss enterprises should enter into bilateral partnerships with their European counterparts by setting exchange quotas. This system is not profitable, because it is necessary to establish specific financing and parallel management.

Degree of internationalization

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is also not included in the index, as the latter is based on 53,000 students (bachelor and master) who graduated in 2020, using data from the Federal Statistical Office, Swiss universities and various institutions.

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Institutional framework conditions, such as the management of higher education institutions, their strategic goals or the design of study programs, play a role in student mobility. The degree of internationalization of higher education institutions is also important, i.e. international cooperation in teaching and research or the nationality of students and professors. These criteria Italian Swiss University, St. It includes the University of Gallen, ETH Zurich, EPFL and the University of Lausanne among the most international Swiss institutions.

“Cessical added value”

The degree of mobility of the university and its degree of internationalization are linked. Students are more likely to stay abroad if courses in Switzerland include an intercultural dimension or offer courses in English, or if they have contact with foreign students and professors, Movetia shows. On the other hand, to attract foreign students, the agency mentions several strategic factors: available housing, the possibility of receiving scholarships, or the creation of associations or targeted events.

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Movetia points out that a high degree of mobility is important for Switzerland as a country of innovation and for the economy. Going abroad “provides crucial added value” for students who acquire intercultural, professional and personal skills. Skills that will serve them well in their future job search.

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