A study abroad is usually associated with costs that can be higher in some cases than in Switzerland. In addition to the tuition fees and travel costs, this also includes the sometimes higher cost of living. In addition, there may be costs for language certificates and admission tests or necessary visas. Fortunately, state or private subsidies offer a whole range of financing options for Swiss people to study abroad.
State funding for Swiss people to study abroad
In Switzerland there is no central state funding for training. The question of financing options for studying at home and abroad rests with the parents of the students and the home canton.
Cantonal grants and loans
In the home canton, i.e. the canton in which the student’s parents are resident under tax law, applications for training allowances can be made at the responsible cantonal scholarship office. The amount of the training allowance varies from canton to canton and is granted in the form of a grant or a loan.
Before deciding to study abroad, you should clarify at an early stage whether and to what extent you will receive funding through the training allowance. In this way, the budget for the stay abroad can be calculated.
There is a good chance of financing a full course abroad with the help of the training grant if students choose a course that is not offered in Switzerland. These include, for example, subjects such as oceanography or aerospace engineering.
The facts and figures published by the Swiss Conference of the Cantonal Education Directorate (EDK) show that it makes perfect sense to apply for state funding: last year around 18,000 students were supported by cantonal grants and 3000 students by cantonal loans.
Tip: You can find out which scholarships are currently available in your canton from the list of cantonal scholarship offices, which is continuously updated.
Foundations for the Swiss
Excellent students and graduates who are particularly in need of support can also apply for a scholarship from a foundation. In Switzerland there are a total of around 12,000 foundations, including a large number of small charitable foundations.
You can find more information in the list of all foundations in Switzerland on the homepage of the Federal Foundation Supervisory Authority ESA:
Mobility grants for research stays abroad
Prospective researchers from Switzerland can apply for support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) for research-related stays abroad.
Doctoral candidates who want to gain international research experience while doing their doctorate abroad can apply for the Doc.Mobility fellowship of the SNSF.
For Swiss people who want to go abroad as postdocs, other mobility grants from the SNSF are possible. There are two options: Postdocs can either go abroad immediately after completing their doctorate (Early Postdoc.Mobility) or at a later point in time with at least one year of postdoc experience. (Advanced Postdoc.Mobility).
Interested parties can find information on the various research programs on the homepage of the Swiss National Science Foundation, which is structured according to the respective research focus.
Foreign Government Scholarships
Bilateral or multilateral scholarship offers are also a good chance to finance study abroad. These government scholarships are usually sufficient to cover living costs and tuition fees.
The swissuniversities scholarship service is responsible for the administration of foreign government scholarships for Switzerland. Especially for a full degree abroad, it makes sense to get an overview of the various country-specific government grants, as there are only a few individual grants from foundations. The website of the scholarship service provides detailed information on government scholarships:
The swissuniversities scholarship service also provides information on other funding options, such as from foreign universities, research institutions and foundations:
Financing options for Swiss people: semester abroad and year abroad
Depending on the funding activities of the foundation, Swiss students can receive financial grants for short-term stays abroad. If the stay abroad does not last longer than two semesters and no study achievements are to be recognized, the student can indicate the status of “self-organized mobility” when registering for the semester.
At your home university in Switzerland, you can submit a reimbursement application for the semester fees paid to the Student Finance Department after your stay abroad. However, this only applies if tuition fees also had to be paid at the university of your choice.
Heyning Roell Foundation
Bachelor and master students who only have a low income but would like to spend a semester or two abroad can receive a financial grant from the Heyning Roelli Foundation. In order to receive this funding, the planned stay abroad must either take place in one of the EU’s Swiss Mobility Programs or at a foreign partner university that has a bilateral agreement with a Swiss university.