Study: Swiss teenagers are happy with their lives

Fifteen-year-olds in Switzerland are happier than their contemporaries in most other developed countries, according to the latest PISA study.

Study: Swiss teenagers are happy with their lives
Swiss students are happy, but still stressed by exams. Photo: AFP/Frederick Florin

The global educational survey conducted in 2015 reveals that Swiss students not only achieve good results in maths and science but are also frontrunners when it comes to general satisfaction with life.

“Finland, the Netherlands and Switzerland seem to manage to combine good results with a high level of happiness,” the authors of the study wrote in the preface.

On a scale of one to ten, the Swiss 15-year-olds had an average happiness level of 7.72.

Of the 35 OECD countries only adolescents in Mexico, Finland, the Netherlands and Iceland had higher scores.

And almost 40 percent of the Swiss study participants said they were “very happy” with their lives compared with a 12 percent OECD average.

The authors said teachers played a key role in creating the conditions for students’ well-being in school.

But the Swiss youth are less ambitious than most, the study found. Only 40 percent wanted to be among the best in the class compared with 60 percent across the OECD.

Swiss youth also had a more relaxed attitude to exams than most of their counterparts: 33.5 percent said they were very nervous before a test compared with an OECD average of 55.5 percent.

The study also found that Swiss youth were as affected by bullying as their counterparts in other countries. Almost 17 percent said they were regularly bullied or ridiculed, just two percent below the average.

Swiss participants took part in more sport (73 percent) than the average (70 percent) and spent less time on the internet than their counterparts elsewhere.

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Why ETH Zurich has been ranked the ‘best university in continental Europe’

A new international survey of universities has ranked Zurich’s Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) the highest in the world outside the US and the UK. How does this school excel?

Why ETH Zurich has been ranked the 'best university in continental Europe'
ETH's main hall. Photo by

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2022 have placed ETH in the 15th place (out of 1,600 surveyed worldwide). The school dropped from the 14th-place ranking the previous year.

Universities in the United Kingdom and the United States hold all of the top rankings ahead of ETH Zurich.

But as the top 14 are not in continental Europe, this means ETH has the unofficial title of the of best in Europe.

What is ETH and what does it do?

It is a public research university focusing exclusively on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

It has a “sister” school located in Lausanne, the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), which specialises in natural sciences and engineering. 

The EPFL ranked in the 40th place in the survey.

Why has ETH scored so high in the study?

“Our strategy is derived from our federal mandate to conduct fundamental research, train specialists and transfer new knowledge to the economy and society,” said ETH President Joël Mesot.

University ranking methodology is based on scores for high-​level indicators relating to teaching, research, international perspective, and collaboration with industry.

“ETH’s overall scores show improvement in teaching, research, and publication citations”, the university’s rankings expert Paul Cross said.

However, it dropped slightly in terms of industry income and international outlook.

“Competition is fierce at the top tier of the rankings”, Cross noted. 

Here are some interesting facts about ETH:

  • It was founded in 1855 by the Swiss government to train engineers and scientists.
  • Today 18,000 students from over 100 different countries study at ETZ, 3,800 of whom are doctoral students.
  • So far, 21 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to researchers who have or had a connection with ETH Zurich.
  • While tuition in the top-ranking schools in the UK — Oxford and Cambridge — costs well over 10,000 francs each year, and in the in the US universities, such as Yale, Harvard, Stanford and Caltech, the annual tuition exceeds 50,000 a year, at ETH it is 1,460 francs.

In all, Switzerland is home to seven of the world’s top universities. Aside from ETH and EPFL, they are University of Zurich (75th place), University of Bern (101st), Universities of Basel and Geneva (103rd), University of Lausanne (176th).

Complete ranking can be seen here.

READ MORE: Why Switzerland leads the world in innovation (Partner content)