Colleges of professional education and training

Key terms: Vocational and professional education in Switzerland / Copenhagen Process / Governance of vocational and professional education and training

The colleges of professional education and training teach students the skills required to independently assume professional and management responsibilities in their field. The education and training programmes and post-diploma programmes are practically oriented and encourage the ability to think methodically and holistically in particular. They also offer further qualifications for the analysis of tasks specific to their occupational field and for the practical application of the acquired knowledge.

The colleges of professional education and training offer federally recognised education and training programmes in the following fields:

  • Engineering

  • Hotel, restaurant and catering, tourism and hospitality services

  • Economics

  • Agriculture and forestry

  • Healthcare

  • Social care and adult education and training

  • Art and design

  • Traffic and transport

The Ordinance on the Minimum Requirements for Recognition of PET College Education and Training Programmes and Post-Diploma Programmes issued by the The Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) governs the conditions under which education and training programmes and post-diploma programmes at colleges of professional education and training are recognised by the Confederation. The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) is responsible for recognition of the education and training programmes. The Federal Commission for Colleges of Professional Education and Training appraises the applications submitted to SERI. Education and training programmes are offered by cantonal or private education institutions. The cantons are in charge of the education and training programmes at the colleges of professional education and training.

Terms of admission

In addition to graduation from upper-secondary education (Federal VET Diploma, successfully completed upper-secondary specialised school, baccalaureate certificate), professional experience and an aptitude assessment can be required for admission to colleges of professional education and training. The terms of admission for the various fields of study are stipulated in the appendix to the Ordinance on the Minimum Requirements for Recognition of PET College Education and Training Programmes and Post-Diploma Programmes, issued by the EAER. The scope and content of the aptitude assessments are defined by the providers of education and training.

Core curricula

Each education and training programme is based on a core curriculum which applies Switzerland-wide and is developed by the providers of education and training in collaboration with professional organisations. The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) approves the core curricula at the request of the Federal Commission for Colleges of Professional Education and Training. The core curricula stipulate (among other things) the occupational profiles, the competences that must be achieved, the fields of education and training, the time apportioned to each of them and the content of the qualification process. The language of tuition is the respective national language. Bilingual tuition or English as the language of tuition are possible.

Graduation and organisation of education and training

The full-time education and training programme lasts at least two years including traineeships; the part-time vocational programme takes at least three years. For the part-time vocational programme, an occupation in the relevant field constituting at least 50% of the course is required. A minimum number of learning hours are required for the education and training programmes. The providers of education and training pass their own graduation regulations. The Ordinance on the Minimum Requirements for Recognition of PET College Education and Training Programmes and Post-Diploma Programmes, issued by the EAER, regulates the qualification process for the diploma. The qualification processes at least comprise a practical assignment or project and oral or written examinations.

The titles awarded by recognised colleges of professional education and training are protected by law: on the diploma, the name of the education and training programme and the corresponding title are stated together with «dipl.», and «HF» is also added (e.g. «dipl. Technician HF Timber Construction»). With a diploma from a college of professional education and training, it is possible to enrol in a Bachelor's degree programme at a university of applied sciences in the same field of study, or in a related field of study. Post-diploma programmes at colleges of professional education and training lead to a recognised diploma; the suffix «NDS HF» is added to the name of the programme (e.g. «dipl. Controller NDS HF»).

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Last update of this page: 18.07.2016

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