Tertiary level - Higher education institutions

There are three types of higher education institutions: universities and institutes of technology (UIT), universities of applied sciences (UAS) and universities of teacher education (UTE). UAS and UTE offer courses which mainly have a practical orientation. All higher education institutions award bachelor and master degrees following the application of guidelines from the Bologna declaration. A doctorate may only be obtained at UIT.

The proportion of qualifications awarded to students of foreign origin varies greatly by the type of higher education and level of graduation. This is especially the case for foreign nationals educated abroad prior to starting their studies at a Swiss higher education institution. In 2020, this category of students were awarded 55% of doctorates and 36% of master degrees at universities of applied sciences. In contrast, at the universities of teacher education, less than 10% of qualifications were awarded to this population.

Although the year 2020 was marked by the covid-19 pandemic, the statistics on higher education institutions graduates only partially reflect this particular situation. Indeed, in most cases, higher education institutions have taken a series of measures to ensure the maintenance of examination sessions. Within UIT, there was a general increase in the number of all degrees awarded between 2019 and 2020, comparable to the increases observed in previous years. The situation at UAS was more complex, with a slight decrease in the number of Bachelor's degrees between 2019 and 2020 but an increase in the number of Master's degrees. At the UTE, a situation similar to that of the UAS can be observed: a decrease in the number of Bachelor degrees but stability or a slight increase in the number of other titles.

Graduates by type of institutions and level of graduation, since 2005
  2005 2010 2015 2020
Universities and institutes of technology        
Bachelor 2 926 11 536 14 292 15 396
First university degree and diploma 9 187 3 326  495  110
Master 1 290 7 961 13 440 14 684
Degree of continuing education and training* 1 692 1 767 1 677 1 659
Doctorate 3100 3593 3853 4424
Universities of applied sciences        
Diploma 6 871 1 050  0  0
Bachelor  0 8 528 12 678 13 982
Master  0 1 280 2 721 3 471
Degree of continuing education and training 2 436 2 691 2 400 2 345
Universities of teacher education        
Diploma 1018 974 1048 1088
Bachelor 684 2037 3219 3202
Master 0 801 1110 1444
Degres of continuing education and training 17 34 169 60
*incl. deepening and specialisation's studies Source: FSO - SHIS-studex

Since the Bologna reform, bachelor and master degrees account for the main qualifications awarded by higher education institutions. At the universities and institutes of technology, master degrees have replaced the traditional "licence/diplôme" study courses. The bachelor degree is the first final qualification awarded but most university students continue their studies to master degree level. Only universities and institutes of technology are able to award doctorates.
At universities of applied sciences, bachelor degrees are the final qualification, replacing the previous "diplôme". The master degree programmes offered by universities of applied sciences are currently expanding.
The universities of teacher education are an exception as the final qualification depends on the prospective teacher's level of teaching.

Statistical sources and concepts

On this topic

Universities and institutes of technology

10 cantonal universities, 2 federal institutes of technology and 2 other institutions, 20 fields of study

Universities of applied sciences

8 universities of applied sciences, 12 fields of study

Universities of teacher education

Around 20 universities of teacher education, 11 branches of study


Federal Statistical Office Section Educational Processes
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