The Swiss education system

Key terms: Public expenditure on education

The Swiss education system comprises the following educational levels:

  • primary level (including Kindergarten or first learning cycle)

  • lower-secondary education

  • upper-secondary education: vocational education and training (VET) and general education schools (Baccalaureate schools and upper-secondary specialised schools)

  • tertiary level education: tertiary level B professional education and training (PET) outside tertiary level A institutions (Federal PET Diploma Examinations, Advanced Federal PET Diploma Examinations and PET colleges) and tertiary level A institutions (universities, universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education)

  • continuing education and training (CET)

The main responsibility for the education system resides with the 26 cantons: the cantons are responsible for the education system wherever the Federal Constitution does not stipulate that the Confederation is responsible. The responsibilities of the Confederation apply to post-compulsory education: with regard to Baccalaureate schools, vocational and professional education and training, and tertiary level A institutions, the Confederation and the cantons are partners, sharing responsibility for the public education system. The municipalities perform various tasks, particularly regarding compulsory education.

Since 1 January 2013 all matters relating to education, research and innovation at federal level have been brought together in the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER, formerly the Federal Department of Economic Affairs FDEA. The State Secretariat for Education and Research SER has been moved from the FDHA and have been combined with the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology OPET to form the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI in this new department. The SERI is the federal government's specialised agency for national and international matters concerning education, research and innovation policy.

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Last update of this page: 07.08.2017