Switzerland Higher Education: Internal Mobility

One critique of a split vocational and academic education tracking system is that students have limited freedom in their education paths.  Lenardo, for example, was advised at her compulsory schooling level not to continue on in academics.  She decided to travel to and attend college in the United States, where she received double majors in two separate fields (which is virtually impossible for Swiss students) and then returned to work at the university in Lugano.  She explained that students cannot explore in the Swiss system, and expressed favor for American universities because “they see your potential and tell you to go for it.”   Lenardo did not explicitly advocate one system (American or Swiss) as better; rather, she acknowledged how they are different.

Another difference in ‘exploring’ that our group discussed with Dr. Christoph von Arb was the concept of networking.  In general, Swiss people are more reserved in socializing. Moreover, they are typically comfortable within their living situations—set in their communities and in their education system—and thus may be less likely to reach outside of these for opportunities.

The implementation of the Universities of Applied Sciences in Switzerland has made the education system more democratic.  Twenty or thirty years ago, it would have been impossible for a Swiss student to switch from vocational schooling to university education.  Although few students choose to cross paths, the possibility of doing so does exist. Furthermore, Switzerland remains effective in creating a well-trained workforce; the unemployment level in Switzerland is quite low.   The system also does not limit political mobility, as there are politicians who do not hold a university degree.  Advocates of Switzerland’s education system also point out that the university education path is less practical and not suited for every person (i.e. there are a limited number of people who will and should become professors).

Another major challenge dealing with mobility is that, despite the advantages of their dual track educational infrastructure, there is not sufficient international recognition of Switzerland’s professional qualifications.

<–Finances | Swiss CultureInternationality and the Bologna Process–>


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