COVID-19 Isn’t Slowing Int’l Students Down – Switzerland Reveals 4% Increase Since 2019

Despite the ongoing pandemic, the Swiss government welcomed more international students in 2020 compared to 2019. In fact, according to the Swiss Federal Statistics Office, four per cent more foreign students have been admitted to educational institutions in 2020 compared to the previous year.

The same source shows that at the beginning of the 2020 academic year, about 12,300 new international students were registered in a higher education institution in the Swiss territory – with 9,000 of them being enrolled in higher education institutions (HEU), 3,000 in a technical college (HES) and 300 in Pedagogy Universities (HEP), reports.

This means that international students are choosing Switzerland as their education and residence destination as seven per cent of new international university students have been living there for several years, a figure that rises to 15 per cent for HEU and HEP.

In addition, the number of newcomers continues to increase, surging by 13 per cent between 2017 and 2020, then four per cent between 2019 and 2020 – showing a constantly increasing trend.

Moreover, about 75 per cent of new international students who move to Switzerland to attend their studies arrive between August and September, which marks the beginning of the academic year. However, a quarter fewer HES and HEP students arrive at this time in the country for their studies – about 50 per cent.

While almost 75 per cent of international students travel to Switzerland for studying purposes, ten per cent go there for employment and seven per cent for family reunification. In other words, more than one in six international students did not intend to start studies when they arrived in the country. This situation concerns especially women, as they arrive more often than men in Switzerland for reasons of family reunification, with ten per cent and three per cent or within the framework of a gainful activity (12 per cent against eight per cent).

The pandemic hasn’t affected the arrivals on a big picture; however, small effects have been visible, especially among third countries’ nationals as their number slightly decreased in some universities. In addition, the migration data accumulated until September 2021 suggests that the number of new international students in 2021 is expected to be similar to the 2020 rates.

Previously, the Swiss authorities revealed they were working to ease procedures for third-country nationals who have graduated in Switzerland to be able to work there after their graduation.

In order to meet this requirement, they should be excluded from the maximum annual number of residence permits if their employment is of high scientific or economic interest,” a press release issued by the Federal Council of Switzerland reads.

The member of the Council, Marcel Dobler, pointed out that if the country is training expensive specialists, they should also be able to work there.

According to the Swiss Federal Statistics Office, the country counts 191,812 foreign students for 2019/2020. In addition, 83,736 of these students were attending universities of applied sciences, 14,844 the medicine and pharmacy universities, and 10,711 in engineering and architecture – as all of these study fields have a shortage of skilled workers in the country.

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