Switzerland’s university system is based on three pillars: (1) fundamental research, (2) applied sciences and arts, and (3) teacher education. Each university type serves a specific purpose in the Swiss education, research and innovation sector.
From Fundamental Research to Practice Orientation
1. Universities (UNIs)
The educational remit of Switzerland’s universities is to offer degree programmes at a high scientific and theory-based level and to undertake basic research. Many degree programmes are offered only at these traditional universities, such as all humanities degrees, many science degrees, and some engineering degrees. These 12 institutions have around 150,000 students enrolled.
2. Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts (UASAs)
The remit of the universities of applied sciences and arts is to provide scientific and professional education, to conduct applied research, and to promote cooperation with practice and industry. Some degree programmes, such as landscape architecture and various health sciences, are available only at universities of applied sciences and arts. The same applies to degrees in music, theatre, film, art, and design. The 8 universities of applied sciences and arts account for around 95,000 students.
3. Universities of Teacher Education (UTEs)
Universities of teacher education offer practice-oriented training such as pre-primary education, primary education, secondary education I and II, special needs education or continuing education for teachers. Various subject areas form the basis of its academic and scientific work; they also participate in the work of the international scientific community in this regard. The 20 universities of teacher education count around 21,000 students.
The Swiss higher education is complemented by two university institutions, supported by the federal government, the and the Swiss Distance Learning University in Brig.