Strong Swiss franc deters foreign students

Swiss universities are receiving significantly fewer applications from abroad due to the strength of the franc, according to reports.

Several universities have reported a drop in the numbers of students applying from abroad, especially from countries within the eurozone, news site NZZ reports.

For example, the University of Basel recorded a reduction in German applicants from 521 last year to 375 this year,

HSG, ETH Zurich and the University of Lucerne have all reported a similar trend.

Tuition fees for foreign students have also risen at some institutions, such as HSG, where fees have increased from 4,400 francs ($4,481) to 7,400 francs ($7,535).

Furthermore, the intensity of the programmes now being taught under the Bologna Reform leave little time for students to work alongside their studies.

“The cost of living in Switzerland for many students is no longer manageable,” said Erich Aschwanden of the University of Lucerne.

With several German states having abolished university fees entirely, domestic alternatives have become more attractive for many.

Swiss People’s Party parliamentarian Christoph Mörgeli welcomed the fact that fewer foreign students were drawn to Swiss universities, arguing that this group made no contribution to the tax base, newspaper 20 Minuten reports.

While foreign students may be staying away, the strength of the franc against the euro means Switzerland remains extremely attractive as a place to work for nationals from neighbouring countries such as Austria, Germany and France, the newspaper said.

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