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Switzerland: Universities To Triple Tuition Fees For International Students

Switzerland: Universities To Triple Tuition Fees For International Students

International students studying at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) and the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) may soon experience a significant increase in tuition fees. The House of Representatives approved a proposal to increase fees on May 29. The Senate must now approve the proposal. This measure, if it were implemented, would make foreign students pay three times as much as their Swiss counterparts.

Hike in tuition fees 

In Switzerland, tuition costs are currently the same for both domestic and foreign students. According to Erudera reports, International students from both EU and non-EU nations pay these fees, which start at about €400 annually. Switzerland has one of the most affordable educational systems in the world, according to the Science, Education, and Culture Committee (WBK-N), which presented the proposal. The country also has some of the lowest tuition costs.

A more extreme proposal to increase tuition fees for international students by three to five times compared to Swiss students was also considered but did not advance further, as reported by swissinfo.ch. Switzerland currently hosts over 78,000 international students, with the majority coming from Italy, Australia, Spain, Portugal, and Turkey.

Increase in international student enrollment

ETH Zurich is one of Switzerland’s most prestigious higher education institutions, with student numbers rising from 11,000 in the 2000s to over 21,000 today. About 35 percent of these students are from abroad. Similarly, EPFL hosts nearly 18,000 students, with more than 7,000 international students from over 130 countries. The student body at EPFL has nearly doubled, from 5,283 in 2010 to 10,894 in 2023.

In addition to the proposed tuition hike, EPFL announced earlier this year a plan to limit the number of international students. Starting in 2025, the institution will cap first-year bachelor’s degree students at 3,000 for a four-year period, a measure that could be extended if necessary. The university explained, “Thanks to its teaching and research excellence, EPFL has become a university of choice, especially for high-school graduates in other countries. However, the growing size of our student body is putting a strain on the quality of the education we can provide.”