The Swiss education system

Key terms: Expenditure on education

The Swiss education system comprises the following educational levels:

  • primary level (including Kindergarten or first learning cycle)

  • lower secondary level

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

  • tertiary level education: tertiary level professional education in the non-university sector (Federal Diploma of Higher Education Examinations, Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education Examinations and colleges of higher education) and universities (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 universities, the Confederation and the cantons are partners, sharing responsibility for the public education system. The municipalities perform various tasks, particularly regarding compulsory education.

At federal level all matters relating to education, research and innovation have been brought together in the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER). The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, (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: 27.08.2018

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