IN NUMBERS: What you need to know about Switzerland's international students

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
IN NUMBERS: What you need to know about Switzerland's international students
Thousands of international students flock to Swiss universities every year. Image by photosforyou from Pixabay.

Every year, thousands of international students pack their bags and travel to Switzerland in pursuit of further education. Here’s what you need to know about them.


56,500 international students

In 2022/23, more than 167,700 students – of which 33.7 per cent were international students – enrolled in a university or an institute of technology in Switzerland.

But what did international students in Switzerland study?

12,700 international students in…

Humanities and social sciences.

The field drew the largest number of students at 28 percent. Of that, 27.2 percent, or around 12,700 students, came to study in Switzerland from other countries.

10,300 international students majored in…

Engineering and architecture.

The percentage of foreign students (47.6 percent) is the highest in engineering sciences and architecture with almost half of the field’s students having moved to Switzerland from another country.

15,400 international students chose to study…

Exact and natural sciences.

The field has the country’s second largest percentage of foreign students (45.6 percent), right after engineering and architecture.

3,200 international students opted for…


A law degree.

Not only was the percentage of international students the lowest in the field of law (19.4 percent), but law also had the second lowest number of overall students (16,590) in the year.

14,800 remaining international students pursued…

Economics (8,400 foreign students), medicine and pharmacy (5,300 foreign students) and interdisciplinary and other studies (1,200 foreign students).

Where is everyone from?

42,574 European students

European students made up the majority of Switzerland’s international students for 2022/23 with 42,574 (37,726 European Union) out of 56,513 foreign students have European nationality.

Of that, German (12,003) students account for the largest number of European students at Swiss universities.

Unsurprisingly, French (9,241) and Italian (6,320) students are a close follow.


The remaining European students are made up of Belgian (663), Greek (826), UK (636), Liechtenstein (460), Dutch (611), Austrian (1,547), Polish (603), Portuguese (1,346), Romanian (526), Spanish (1,439), Turkish (1,053) and Russian (904) students.

7,958 students from Asia

Chinese students (3,519) made up the second largest nationality of Asian students to enrol in a Swiss university followed by other Asian students (1,907).

The remaining students at Swiss universities in 2022/23 with Asian nationalities were split as follows: India (1,237), Iran (630), Lebanon (404) and South Korea (261).

3,102 American students

American students enrolled in Swiss universities during 2022/23 included 538 Brazilian, 464 Canadian, 312 Colombian, 245 Mexican, 930 US and 613 other American students.


2,729 African students

African students pursuing degrees at Swiss universities included 111 Algerian, 126 Cameroonian, 622 Moroccan, 480 Tunisian, 253 Egyptian and 1,137 other African students.

140 Oceanian students

The second smallest nationality group were international students from Oceania.

During 2022/23, 100 Australian students pursued their majors at Swiss universities with the remaining 40 students hailing from other Oceanian countries.

17,850 Bachelor students

The majority of international students in Switzerland that year were enrolled in undergraduate courses at universities.

17,742 Master students

Postgraduate Master courses had around 100 fewer international students than undergraduate courses had in 2022/23.

15,737 Doctorate students

An astounding 15,737 international students were enrolled in doctorate courses during 2022/23.

5,184 other degrees

Only 5,184 international students pursued so-called other degrees in the study year.

Other degrees include a first university degree and diploma, a degree of continuing education and training, or deepening and specialisation's studies and other studies.

5,216 international students at the University of Zurich

Switzerland’s largest university welcome 5,216 international students during 2022.

The university’s international students hailed from Europe (3,693), Asia (1,225), North America (158), South America and Africa (53).

Meanwhile, Zurich’s ETH recruits 35 percent of its more than 25,000 students from abroad.

6,705 took a course at the University of Bern

In 2022, 6,705 (35 percent) of the University of Bern’s 19,297 students came from abroad.

3,327 studied at the University of Basel

In the same year, 3,327 international students (out of 12,896 overall students) were enrolled in classes at the University of Basel.

7,357 students chose the University of Geneva

In 2022, 7,357 (39 percent) of the University of Geneva’s students were international and hailed from 152 countries.

4,000 students enrolled at the University of Lausanne

According to its website, around 4,000 international students (out of 16,908 total students) are currently enrolled at the university.

The university also hosts hosts more than 500 exchange students each year.

3,289 studied at the University of St. Gallen

In the autumn of 2022, 3,289 students from abroad (out of 9,590 total students) studied at the University of St. Gallen.



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