Academic continuing education and training (academic CET)
Academic continuing education and training (academic CET) takes place at universities and universities of applied sciences. The following qualifications can be obtained: Master of Advanced Studies (MAS), Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS), Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS).
The academic year at higher education institutions is divided into two semesters. Each semester lasts 14 weeks at universities and 14 to 16 weeks at universities of applied sciences.
Accreditation ensures high quality training courses and competitive qualifications. State and private universities and their degree courses are accredited by the Swiss University Conference (SUC), while universities of applied sciences and their degree courses are recognised by the Confederation.
Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education
Those passing the Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education Examination receive an Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education. This is issued by the SERI.
Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education Examination
Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education Examinations are generally geared to proving professional expertise and/or company management ability in small and medium-sized companies. The preparatory courses for the examinations are not regulated and are not subject to state control. Depending on the area of study the preparatory courses may be held in the form of evening classes, at weekends or on working days. They are designed exclusively as part-time courses to be attended while still in employment, and last 3 to 4 semesters. The Confederation recognises the examination regulations through the SERI and is responsible for supervising the examinations. Those completing the examination compile a project or term paper depending on the profession and sit examinations in written, oral and practical form depending on the profession. Those successfully completing an Advanced Federal Diploma Examination receive a Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education.
Agreements on funding and freedom of movement
The agreements on funding and freedom of movement allow equal access to education institutions (particularly in the tertiary sector) throughout Switzerland. The agreements also regulate the equalisation of burdens between the cantons.
The apprenticeship contract is the essential foundation of each apprenticeship. It must be in writing and be approved by the cantonal authority. In the apprenticeship contract the employer undertakes to train the learner, or have the learner trained by professionals, in a professional way for a particular occupation. The learner undertakes to perform work in the services of the employer to this end. The apprenticeship contract must specify at least the type and duration of the VET, the wage, the probationary period, the working hours and the holidays. The apprenticeship contract must be in place not later than at the start of a VET.
Autonomy of the communes
The autonomy of the communes includes in particular the right of the communes to adopt their own standards and to manage themselves, subject to higher-level laws which take precedence.
Federally recognised leaving certificate following baccalaureate education (upper secondary level general education).
Upper secondary level general education school. Baccalaureate schools prepare students for direct entry into a higher education institution, namely for a course of study at a university or university of teacher education. Entry into universities of applied sciences is dependent on additional requirements. The course usually lasts four years.The programme leads to a federally recognised cantonal baccalaureate.
Baccalaureate school for adults
Adults can catch up the baccalaureate by attending a baccalaureate school for adults. The course can be completed full-time or part-time and lasts at least 3 years. Adults sit the baccalaureate examination at the school. The programme leads to a federally recognised cantonal baccalaureate.
The Bachelor is the first higher education qualification. Bachelor degree courses are usually completed in three years (full-time study). Every university Bachelor’s degree offers a seamless transition into a Master’s degree programme. At universities of applied sciences the Bachelor degree is the standard leaving certificate for study courses. It generally qualifies for a profession and permits direct entry into professional practice.
The Bachelor degree is the first academic degree. The title and abbreviations of the degrees obtained are: Bachelor of Arts (B A), Bachelor of Engineering (B Eng), Bachelor of Law (B Law), Bachelor of Medicine (B Med), Bachelor of Dental Medicine (B Dent Med), Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (B Vet Med), Bachelor of Science (B Sc), Bachelor of Theology (B Th).
Basic competences are one possible form of education standards. These are performance standards. They describe the basic abilities and skills to be acquired by pupils as well as basic knowledge in certain subjects. The Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) has issued a catalogue of basic competences for four specialist areas: language of instruction, two foreign languages (a second national language and English), mathematics and natural sciences.
The Basisstufe and Grundstufe are two variants of the first learning cycle which combine pre-school with the first primary school years. In the Basisstufe the two pre-school years are combined with the first two years of primary school. The classes are mixed-age classes taught by two teachers in ‘team teaching’. The cantons decide how to organise the first years of school (pre-school, Grundstufe or Basisstufe).
Bilingual teaching / immersion teaching
In bilingual/immersion teaching a particular subject (e.g. geography, history, sport) or certain lessons are taught in a foreign language. The focus of the teaching is not on the foreign language, but on the topics of the subject in question.
Block teaching is a method of school organisation in compulsory school including pre-school which combines lesson time into larger blocks of time. Lessons are bundled together into full half-days. In “comprehensive” block teaching the pupils are in the care of the school on five mornings for at least three-and-a-half hours (i.e. four lessons) and on one to four afternoons. Depending on local conditions and needs different models of block teaching may be applied.
Bridge-year courses are education programmes which prepare, after compulsory schooling (i.e. after lower secondary level), for vocational education and training (VET) and give young people better chances of getting an apprenticeship. On the one hand they work to make up educational deficiencies at the end of compulsory schooling, and on the other they serve as an introduction to professional practice. Bridge-year courses also provide support in identifying potential career paths. They last up to one year.
The 26 cantons (states) are sovereign, except where their sovereignty is limited by the Federal Constitution. The cantons exercise all rights which are not assigned to the Confederation. All cantons have the same rights of intervention at federal level. Each canton has its own constitution, its own parliament, its own government and its own courts. The cantons (states) are responsible for the education system, except where the Federal Constitution declares the Confederation or the Confederation and the cantons together to be competent.
Cantonal department of education
In each canton a member of the cantonal government runs the department or directorate of education.The cantonal education department directs, coordinates and supervises the education system in the canton. The director of the education department is, by virtue of office, a member of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK).
Cantonal directorate of education
Cantonal department of education.
Cantonal education law
The cantonal education law governs the objectives, principals, structure and funding of the education system.
Case management vocational education and training
The case management vocational education and training procedure involves measures for young people whose entry into the professional world is at risk. It coordinates all stakeholders across both institutional and professional boundaries and also beyond the career choice and VET stages and ensures that seamless support is provided on the route from compulsory schooling via VET into the world of work.
In catch-up education adults can catch up basic education (in the sense of basic abilities such as reading and writing) and general-education and vocational-education leaving certificates from upper secondary level and tertiary-level qualifications. Adults can also catch up a VET leaving certificate/qualification without having to go through an apprenticeship. The Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act (VPETA) leaves several options open for proving competences.
Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS)
CAS study courses are part-time certificate courses and generally last between a few months and one year. In addition to attending lectures and self-study they sometimes require students to write up a short project. Successful students are awarded the "Certificate of Advanced Studies".
Child day-care facilities
Child day-care facilities are establishments which care for small children from the age of three months on a full-day or half-day basis until they enter pre-school or school. They offer professional care and meals. There are both state-run and private child day-care facilities. Child day-care facilities are funded chiefly through parental contributions; the public sector and in some circumstances employers pay a share of funding. Childcare for children under four years falls within the sphere of family and social policy.
Childcare (day-care centres for children)
Compulsory education offers, among others, day-care centres, day nurseries, supervised midday meals, periods before and after lessons or homework tutoring and other services.
Day nurseries and day-care centres look after children and young people outside school lesson times (mornings, lunchtimes, afternoons) and also offer leisure activities, catering and support with school concerns. Parents can usually choose specific days and care times. Supervised midday meals offer children and young people supervised care at midday on agreed days of the week. The cantons and communes are responsible for regulating childcare. These services are voluntary services for which parents normally have to pay.
College of Higher Education
Colleges of Higher Education provide students with the skills needed to take over technical and managerial responsibilities in their area. Alongside training at school, the accompanying professional experience or the work placements integrated into the training form an important part of acquiring the extensive ability to act in a vocational capacity. Unlike the federal examinations, at Colleges of Higher Education the courses of education are regulated and recognised by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Full-time education lasts a minimum two years including work placements, while part-time education takes at least three years and ends with a practical dissertation or project work and written or oral examinations. Courses at Colleges of Higher Education lead to a federally recognised diploma. Colleges of Higher Education also offer post-diploma courses. These allow students to carry out further specialisation and consolidation and are recognised by SERI.
College of Higher Education Diploma
Those attending a course of study at a College of Higher Education and passing the final examination or successfully completing a comparable qualification procedure receive a federally recognised College of Higher Education Diploma.
The commune is the smallest political administrative unit in Switzerland.
The compulsory education sector covers the pre-school and primary sector and the lower secondary level. Compulsory school is managed or supervised by the state. At state schools lessons are free of charge. In most cantons pre-school lasts one or two years, primary level six years and the lower secondary level three years. Within the framework of the HarmoS Agreement attendance of two years of pre-school will become mandatory in the 15 cantons which have signed the HarmoS Agreement from the 2015/2016 academic year at the latest. The 11 years of compulsory schooling now in force in the cantons which have signed the HarmoS Agreement therefore covers two years of pre-school, six years of primary and three years of lower secondary level. For children and young people with special educational needs the cantons provide appropriate schooling up to the age of 20.
Confederation is a term for the State of Switzerland, which consists of cantons and is organised on a federal basis.
Continuing education and training (CET)
The Swiss continuing education and training landscape is characterised by great diversity with regard to responsibility, regulation, programmes offered and financing. CET is primarily each individual’s own responsibility and is largely privately funded. The Confederation and the cantons have a subsidiary role in CET.
Teaching at lower secondary level is in classes grouped by ability following different models (streamed model, cooperative model, integrated model). Depending on the canton a particular model may be followed throughout the canton or the canton may allow the communes to choose between different models. The cooperative model is based on different ability groups in core classes. Pupils are placed in a particular core class on the basis of their abilities. Usually there is one basic core class and one advanced core class. In some subjects (generally the language of instruction, a foreign language and mathematics) pupils attend lessons in different ability groups on the basis of their individual abilities. The cooperative model enable a higher degree of permeability.
Childcare (day-care centres for children)
Day-care families care for one or more children at home. The care is very flexible and may be on an hourly, half-day or full-day basis. Day-care families care for both children under school age and children of school age. Day-care families are funded chiefly through parental contributions. Childcare for children under four years falls within the sphere of family and social policy.
Degree programme (course of study)
Degree programmes at universities are three-tier (Bachelor, Master and Doctorate/PhD). At universities of applied sciences degree programmes are two-tier (Bachelor and Master).
Departments are administrative units which are subordinate to the Government and structured by subject area at the level of the Confederation (Federal Administration), canton (where they are sometimes called directorates) and commune.
Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS)
DAS study courses are generally directed at people with a university degree at Master level, who are mostly already working. The courses of study generally last between one and two years and offer in-depth training in a specific specialist area. In addition to attending lectures and self-study they often require the student to write a final paper at the end of the course. Successful students are awarded the "Diploma of Advanced Studies" or a "University Professional" degree.
The doctoral degree grants candidates the right to use the university-defined title of Dr (...), which corresponds to the Ph.D. used in English.
After completing a Master degree programme at universities a doctorate or PhD programme may be commenced in all study areas. The Doctorate consists of a doctoral thesis and curricular units. Doctorates are structured by the individual universities taking into account institutional and disciplinary factors.
Dual-track VET system
The dual-track VET system means parallel training in companies and in the VET school. In principle the practical part of the training is carried out in companies. This is supplemented by the vocational education part, the general-education teaching in the VET school and inter-company courses. Learners spend most of their time in a company, where they are trained during the work process.
EDK regional conferences
The education directors of the French-language cantons are members of the Conference of the Cantonal Ministers of Public Education in French-speaking Switzerland (CIIP), the directors of the German-speaking cantons and of the multilingual cantons of Bern, Fribourg, Graubünden and Valais are members of the Swiss-German Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (D-EDK).
Enhanced measures go beyond the measures which are available locally for children with special educational needs.They are characterised by a long duration and high intensity, a high degree of specialisation among the specialist staff and a significant impact on the everyday life, environment or later life of the child or young person. Enhanced measures are subject to a cantonal approval procedure.
Subject to the rights of the People and the Cantons, the Federal Assembly is the supreme authority of the Confederation. The Federal Assembly comprises two chambers, the National Council and the Council of States; both chambers are of equal standing. The Federal Assemblyl enacts provisions that establish binding legal rules in the form of federal acts or ordinances and elects the members of the Federal Council, the Federal Chancellor, the judges of the Federal Supreme Court and, in times of war, the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces ("the General").
The Federal Council is the supreme governing and executive authority of the Confederation. The Federal Council has seven members. The members of the Federal Council are elected by the Federal Assembly following each general election to the National Council. The Federal Council is in charge of the Federal Administration.
Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research
Since 1 January 2013 at federal level the entire field of education, research and innovation has been brought into the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), the former Federal Department of Economic Affairs (FDEA). The State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER), formerly located in the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA), and the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology (OPET) have been in merged in this new Department under the name State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).
Federal Diploma of Higher Education
Those who pass the Federal Diploma of Higher Education Examination receive a Federal Diploma of Higher Education. This is issued by the SERI.
Federal Diploma of Higher Education Examination
Federal Diploma of Higher Education Examinations are aimed at those with several years of professional experience who already have in-depth professional abilities and wish to specialise in their area of activity. The preparatory courses for the examinations are not regulated and are not subject to state control. Depending on the area of study the preparatory courses may be held in the form of evening classes, at weekends or on working days. They are designed exclusively as part-time courses, and last 3 to 4 semesters. The Confederation recognises the examination regulations through the SERI and is responsible for supervision of the examinations. Those completing the examination compile a project or term paper depending on the profession and sit examinations in written, oral and practical form depending on the profession. Those successfully completing an Advanced Diploma of Higher Education Examination receive a Federal Diploma of Higher Education.
The People and the 26 cantons form the Federal State. Public authority is shared between the Confederation and the cantons according to fields of activities.
Federal VET Certificate
The Federal VET Certificate is awarded to those who have completed the two-year vocational education and training (VET) with an examination or a comparable qualification process.
Federal VET Diploma
The Federal VET Diploma is awarded to those completing the three to four-year vocational education and training (VET) with a final examination or a comparable qualification procedure. This tests the professional skills acquired through work experience, the school-based vocational education and general education. The grade for experience awarded at school and in the practical training is also taken into account.
Federal Vocational Baccalaureate
The Federal Vocational Baccalaureate supplements VET programmes leading to the Federal VET Diploma with an extended general education programme at upper secondary level. The extended general education ends with the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate examination. Successful graduates receive a Federal Vocational Baccalaureate. This provides admission to a study course related to the profession at a university of applied sciences without any further examinations, and with additional qualifications it also provides admission to a university. The Federal Vocational Baccalaureate can be completed either during VET or following VET in a full-time programme (duration: 1 year) or on a part-time basis while working (duration: 1.5-2 years). It can also be obtained without attending a specific school programme through the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate examinations.
Federal Vocational Baccalaureate
The Federal Vocational Baccalaureate is awarded to those who have a Federal VET Diploma and have passed the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate examination recognised by the Confederation or successfully completed a comparable qualification procedure. The Federal Vocational Baccalaureate entitles holders to admission to a university of applied sciences without any further examinations.
Switzerland is federal in structure and is divided into three political levels: the Confederation, cantons and communes. There is a separation of the legislative, executive and judicial powers at all three levels.
First learning cycle
The first learning cycle is the umbrella term for forms of organisation which connect pre-school more strongly with the first years of school (Grundstufe, Basisstufe).
Framework curricula lay down the objectives for the different education levels in a general form. They are enacted or approved in VET by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). In upper secondary level general education they are adopted by the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK). The cantons or education providers determine the specific regulations in their own curricular. In this process they must keep to the guidelines of the framework curriculum.
Full-time vocational school
For some professions it is possible to acquire the vocational education and training (VET) leaving certificate at a full-time vocational school (upper secondary level). Those attending full-time vocational schools complete, during the VET period, a placement in a company which teaches them practical skills. Basic education organised in schools also leads to a federally recognised leaving certificate (Federal VET Diploma) at upper secondary level.
General-education teaching is part of the holistic approach in vocational and professional education and training. General education is intended to enable learners to access the world of work, find their way and integrate themselves into society. Promotion of language skills, self-competence, social competence and methodological skills, together with the development of specialist competence (vocational-education teaching), form the heart of general-education teaching at VET schools.
Pre-school and/or primary level teacher with a teaching qualification in all or most specialist areas.
The Grundstufe and Basisstufe are forms of organisation which combine pre-school with the first primary school years. In the Grundstufe the two pre-school years are combined with the first year of primary school. The classes are mixed-age classes taught by two teachers in ‘team teaching’. The cantons decide how to organise the first years of school (pre-school, Grundstufe or Basisstufe).
The ‘Habilitation’, which is a qualification providing the ability to teach and engage in research in an academic subject in higher education appoints designated persons as private lecturers and awards them the teaching authorisation (Venia Legendi) at the respective university faculty.
The Habilitation procedure tests whether an individual has the ability to teach and engage in research in the specialist area autonomously at university. The basis for the assessment is, as a rule, a Habilitationsschrift or postdoctoral thesis, and a sample lecture (or corresponding Habilitation performances). The university faculties are responsible for the content of the Habilitation regulations.
Higher Education Institutions
The term higher education institution covers universities (cantonal universities, federal institutes of technology (FIT), university-level institutions) and universities of applied sciences (including universities of teacher education).
Childcare (day-care centres for children)
Teaching at lower secondary level is in classes grouped by ability following different models (streamed model, cooperative model, integrated model). Depending on the canton a particular model may be followed throughout the canton or the canton may allow the communes to choose between different models. The integrated model has non-selective core classes: pupils with different abilities attend the same mixed-ability class. In some subjects (generally the language of instruction, a foreign language and mathematics) pupils attend lessons in different ability groups on the basis of their individual abilities. The integrated model enable a higher degree of permeability.
Full-time or part-time integration of children and young people with special educational needs in a mainstream class through the use of special education measures. The necessary educational, special education, therapeutic and nursing care is provided on site in order to meet specific needs. Special schooling is provided by special needs teachers (specialising in remedial education teaching), who work together with skilled personnel in mainstream schools and with other specialist staff (speech therapists, psychomotor therapists, audio education, social education, etc.).
In inter-company courses – in addition to education and training in companies and VET schools – students acquire basic practical skills.
The cantons may enter into agreements (legally binding treaties) with each other. Agreements between cantons must not be contrary to the law, to the interests of the Confederation or to the rights of other cantons. The Confederation must be notified of such agreements.
Job-related continuing education and training (CET)
Job-related continuing education and training (CET) is intended to help skilled people to adapt their professional knowledge to technical, economic and social changes and to extend their general education. CET is offered in different forms and by various institutions (private and state schools, companies, associations, etc.). The Confederation and the cantons can, through contributions and other measures, promote organisations which carry out measures in the field of job-related CET. Job-related CET connects with both vocational education and training (VET) and tertiary level B professional education and training.
Language of instruction
The language of instruction in schools is laid down by the cantons. As a rule it is the official language of the place in which the school is located (German, French, Italian or Romansh). In the multilingual cantons one of the national languages is used as the language of instruction depending on the region or commune.
The European Language Portfolio accompanies language learning at school and beyond. With the aid of the Language Portfolio language learners can record and present their language skills in detail.
The Swiss Language Portfolio is published by the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK).
Language-region curricula for compulsory education
The cantons are developing language-region curricula for compulsory education (including pre-school). The language-region curricula are geared to the educational areas in the HarmoS Agreement and the national educational standards (basic competences). The French-speaking cantons have drafted the Plan d’études romand (PER), which is being progressively introduced. From 2015 all pupils in compulsory education (including the École enfantine) in the French-speaking part of Switzerland will be taught according to the PER. The 21 German and multilingual cantons are developing the Lehrplan 21. In 2014 this is to be delivered to the cantons for implementation. The individual cantons decide when and how to implement the new curriculum. The canton of Ticino as a separate Italian language region is responsible for the Ticino curriculum. Cantonal decision-making freedom and room for manoeuvre of the local schools are not affected by the language-region curricula.
In the context of teacher training, lateral entrants are people with professional experience from other professions who are at least 30 years old and have at least three years’ professional experience. The Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) regulations on recognition form the regulatory basis allowing a lateral entrant to obtain a diploma which is recognised federally.
Local school authority
Depending on the cantonal regulation a local school authority (school committee, school council, school board etc.) can perform tasks in the educational sector. The name, competences, tasks, selection or appointment of the school authorities varies in the cantons and communes.
Long-cycle baccalaureate school
Baccalaureate school which pupils enter following the primary level (from grade 7). The period of training leading to the baccalaureate is six to seven years. Long-cycle baccalaureate schools exist only in German-language cantons.
Lower secondary level
Lower secondary level is part of compulsory education. It follows the primary level and last three years (grades 7 to 9). In five cantons primary school is shorter and the lower secondary level therefore longer: four years (grades 6 to 9) or five years (grades 5 to 9). The Intercantonal Agreement on Harmonisation of Compulsory Education (HarmoS Agreement) is leading to the harmonisation of the objectives and duration of compulsory education.
The Master is the second university degree. The Master’s degree is completed as a rule after one and a half to two years (full-time study). The Master’s degree is the standard qualification. At universities of applied sciences a limited number of Master’s study courses are offered to deepen scientific knowledge.
Master of Advanced Studies (MAS)
MAS study courses are mainly directed at those with a university degree at Master’s level who are already in employment. MAS courses generally last two years or more and are usually completed on a part-time basis while working. They require the student to write a Master’s dissertation and represent the highest level of continuing education qualification that can be achieved at a university. On successful completed of a Master’s programme the academic title "Master of Advanced Studies" is awarded
The Master’s degree is the second academic degree. The title and abbreviations of the degrees obtained are: Master of Arts (M A), Master of Engineering (M Eng), Master of Law (M Law), Master of Medicine (M Med), Master of Dental Medicine (M Dent Med), Master of Veterinary Medicine (M Vet Med), Master of Science (M Sc), Master of Theology (M Th).
The national languages are German, French, Italian, and Romansh.
For a few study courses the Swiss University Conference (SUC) issues an annual recommendation for a numerus clausus, based on the number of registrations. Where necessary each maintaining body decides on a numerus clausus in accordance with the legal basis regulating that body. Medical programmes (human medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and chiropractic training), arts programmes and sports and motion science programmes are currently subject to such admission restrictions in some universities.
Occupational, study and career guidance
Occupational, study and career guidance supports young people and adults in the choice of profession and study course and in developing their career. The services provided extend from entry into the world of work and CET measures to changes of career.
German, French and Italian are the official languages of the Confederation, i.e. official decrees must be drafted in these three languages. Romansh is an official language of the Confederation when communicating with persons who speak Romansh.
Ordinances on vocational education and training (education ordinances)
Education ordinances are limited to legally relevant training profession content. They define the core elements of the training profession, in particular the subject and duration of basic education and training, its objectives, the requirements of education in professional practice and the shares of time spent in each of the places of learning, the qualification procedures, certificates and titles. The education plan is part of the education ordinance. It is the content-related and vocational teaching concept of vocational education and training (VET).
The Parliament, which is the legislative branch of the state, has two chambers: The National Council (200 seats) represents the Swiss population as a whole, and the Council of States (46 seats) represents the 26 cantons; together, they constitute the United Federal Assembly.
Passerelle / supplementary examination university aptitude test
On successful completion of the supplementary examination university aptitude test (Passerelle), individuals with a Federal Vocational Baccalaureate certificate also obtain admission to universities and to universities of teacher education. The examinations are organised centrally. The method of preparation for the supplementary examination can be chosen freely. It may be carried out through self-learning or through attendance of a one-year course offered by private or state-run schools.
Under the Federal Constitution the Confederation and the cantons ensure a high degree of permeability in the Swiss education area. A high degree of permeability in education means that it is possible to change between school types and training courses with different performance requirements, or to change between different education programmes (e.g. change between job-related and general training courses) taking into account education acquired formally and non-formally.
Persons in charge of VET
The generic term "persons in charge of VET" covers all specialists who, during VET, teach learners a practical or school-based training segment. These include teachers in bridge-year courses, vocational trainers in training companies, vocational trainers in inter-company courses and training workshops, teachers at VET schools (including teachers for general-education teaching, teachers for vocational-education teaching and sports teachers), teachers for subjects of the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate, teachers in preparatory courses for (Advanced) Examinations of Higher Education, teachers at Colleges of Higher Education and examinations experts. Vocational teaching education and the leaving certificates of most of those responsible for VET are regulated in the Framework Curriculum for Persons in charge of VET.
Playgroups are found above all in the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland. They are not intended to provide childcare support for parents as such, but serve to expand the children’s realm of encounters and experience. Regular groups of eight to ten children aged between three and five years meet on a weekly basis for two to three hours to play together, do craft, etc. A playgroup leader oversees the group. Playgroups are maintained by private organisations or individuals, and are funded mainly from parental contributions.
Pre-school establishments are called, depending on the language region, Kindergarten (German-speaking part of Switzerland), école enfantine, cycle initiale, cycle 1 etc. (French-speaking part of Switzerland) or scuola dell'infanzia (Italian-speaking part of Switzerland). Pre-school prepares children for starting school. Depending on the canton pre-school attendance may be compulsory or the cantons may require the communes to provide pre-school. Pre-school lasts, depending on the canton, one or two years (in one canton three years). Attendance of state-run pre-school is free of charge. Almost 100% of children attend pre-school for at least one year, and around 86% for two years. Other forms of organisation of the entry-level stage of school are possible (Grundstufe, Basisstufe).
In some German-speaking cantons children who are only ready for some aspects of school may attend a two-year preparatory Einschulungsklasse or Einführungsklasse (both terms used to describe preparatory classes) after pre-school in which the learning matter normally covered in the first regular primary class is spread over two years. At the end of the two-year preparatory Einschulungsklasse or Einführungsklasse pupils usually transfer definitively to the second regular primary class.
The primary level forms part of compulsory education. In 21 cantons it lasts six years. In 5 cantons it lasts 4 or 5 years. The Intercantonal Agreement on Harmonisation of Compulsory Education (HarmoS Agreement) serves the harmonisation of the objectives and duration of compulsory education and the duration of the different school levels.
The primary school education guaranteed by the Federal Constitution can be provided by the state or by private institutions. The responsibility to regulate teaching and hence also teaching by the private sector lies with the cantons (states)
Professional education covers the vocational and professional, non-university part of the tertiary level (tertiary level B) and forms, together with the universities and universities of applied sciences (= tertiary level A), the tertiary level of the Swiss education system. Tertiary level B professional education provides qualifications which are required for demanding occupations with technical and managerial responsibilities. Admission to tertiary level B professional education is open to professionals with a Federal VET Diploma and professional experience or a comparable upper secondary level leaving certificate and several years of professional experience. In tertiary level B professional education there are two forms of formal tertiary leaving qualifications which lead to federal or federally recognised leaving certificates: the Federal Examinations of Higher Education (Federal Diploma of Higher Education Examinations and Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education Examinations), and Colleges of Higher Education.
"Professional organisations" is an umbrella term. Maintaining bodies may be the social partners, trade associations and industry organisations, and other organisations and VET providers. Members include companies (legal persons) and professionals (private persons). Professional associations and industry organisations define the educational contents in the education plan, organise VET, offer inter-company courses and provide tertiary level B professional education and training offers. Social partners, other competent organisations and VET providers are involved together with professional associations in the implementation and development of VET.
Psychomotor therapy is concerned with the interaction between perception, feeling, thinking and behaviour and their physical expression. Psychomotor developmental abnormalities and disabilities are diagnosed in this process, and therapy and support measures are planned, implemented and assessed.
Qualification procedure is the umbrella term for all procedures used to determine whether a person has all the competence laid down in the relevant education ordinance. The main qualification procedure is the final examination at the end of VET.
Regulations on recognition
Building on the "Intercantonal Agreement on the Recognition of Educational Qualifications", regulations on recognition standardise the nationwide recognition of diplomas for teaching professions, the recognition of foreign vocational qualifications in the field of teaching or special education, and upper secondary level general-education qualifications.
Remedial education in early childhood
Remedial education in early childhood addresses children with disabilities or developmental delays, limitations or risks and can provide support from birth to up to two years after starting school through disabilities assessment, preventive and educational support, and appropriate support in a family context.
Remedial education teacher
Remedial education teachers work as integrative teachers at all levels of mainstream schools and in remedial education institutions.
Right to award to the Doctoral degree
Universities have the right to award the Doctoral degree.
Short-cycle baccalaureate school
Baccalaureate school which students enter as a rule in grade 9 or 10. The period of training leading to the baccalaureate is four or three years.
Special classes are a type of schooling falling between mainstream and special schools in compulsory education. Special classes take a reduced number of learners, whose development is jeopardised or who in all likelihood would not be able to follow classes in mainstream schools due to their difficulties (e.g. behavioural or learning difficulties). Only children and young people with special educational needs are accepted into special classes (e.g. Einschulungsklasse and small classes at primary level, Werkklassen at lower secondary level). Special classes are, however, only offered in some cantons.
Special educational needs
All children and young people (0-20 years of age) with special educational needs living in Switzerland are entitled to special education measures. Special educational needs exist for children before starting school where it has been established that their development is limited or jeopardised or that without specific support they would in all likelihood not be able to follow classes in mainstream schools, for children and young people where it has been established that without additional support they can no longer follow or only follow the mainstream school curriculum in part or not at all, in other situations in which the competent school authority has established that children and young people have great difficulties with social skills and learning or performance problems.
Special needs education
Special needs education deals with children and young people with special educational requirementsand with disabilities. These children and young people are entitled to special education and support from specialists in remedial education in early childhood, remedial education teaching, speech therapy and psychomotor therapy. In Switzerland special needs education is based on the following principles: special needs education is part of the state education mandate. Integrative solutions should be preferred over segregation, taking into account the welfare and development potential of the child or young person and taking into consideration the school environment and organisation. Special needs education is based on the principle that education is free of charge; parents or legal guardians may be asked to pay a financial contribution for meals and care.
Special schools have specialised in particular forms of disability or learning and behavioural difficulties. Special schools only take children and young people who are entitled to enhanced measures. Special schooling can, moreover, be combined with in-patient accommodation or with care in day-care centres
Federally recognised leaving certificate following specialised baccalaureate programme (upper secondary level general education).
Specialised baccalaureate programme
General education programme at upper secondary level. Prepares for vocational training at Colleges of Higher Education and universities of applied sciences, particularly in the fields of health, social work, education, communication and information, design and art, music and theatre and applied psychology. Carried out after completing the upper secondary specialised school programme , the specialised baccalaureate programme lasts one year. It leads to a federally-recognised specialised baccalaureate
Lower or upper secondary level teacher with a teaching authorisation for certain subjects. At lower secondary level the number of subjects varies, depending on the training institutions, between one and five subjects, while at upper secondary level a teaching authorisation may be obtained for one, but as a rule for two subjects.
Speech therapy diagnoses and treats language, speech and communication disorders. To this end appropriate therapeutic measures are planned, implemented and evaluated.
Standardised evaluation procedure
On the basis of the Special Needs Education Agreement the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) commissioned the development of a “standardised evaluation procedure to assess individual needs» (SAV). The SAV records information systematically and gives users (school psychological service, disabilities assessment agencies) a comprehensive, multidimensional needs assessment. It serves the cantons primarily as a decision-making basis for the arrangement of enhanced special needs measures.
State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI)
The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) within the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) is the federal government's specialised agency for national and international matters concerning education, research and innovation policy.
Teaching at lower secondary level is in classes grouped by ability following different models (streamed model, cooperative model, integrated model). Depending on the canton a particular model may be followed throughout the canton or the canton may allow the communes to choose between different models.
In the streamed model pupils are grouped according to their ability in different school types which are separate from each other. Pupils are taught in separate classes or schools, sometimes with different curricula and teaching materials. There are usually two (basic and advanced abilities) or three (basic, intermediate and advanced abilities) school types, or even four in a few cantons. The streamed model offers little permeability.
Pre-school and/or primary teacher who has a teaching qualification for particular specialist areas.
Competences are divided between the Confederation and the cantons. The Confederation performs the tasks assigned to it by the Federal Constitution and undertakes only those tasks which go beyond the power of the cantons (subsidiarity principle) or require uniform regulation by the Confederation. The cantons exercise all rights which are not assigned to the Confederation.
Supervised midday meals
Childcare (day-care centres for children)
Swiss baccalaureate examinations
Adults can catch up the baccalaureate by passing the Swiss baccalaureate examinations. These examinations are organised centrally and held twice a year. There is no mandatory way of preparing for the Swiss baccalaureate examinations. It can be carried out on an individual basis or by attending a private baccalaureate school. It leads to a Swiss baccalaureate. This is equivalent to the baccalaureates which are issued by recognised baccalaureate schools or by recognised baccalaureate schools for adults.
Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK)
In Switzerland, the main responsibility for education and culture lies with the cantons. They coordinate their work at national level. The 26 cantonal ministers of education together form a political body to carry out this work: the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK). The EDK represents the cantons vis-à-vis the Confederation in the fields of education, culture, sport and youth promotion, and participates in international cooperation in these areas. The EDK is also the Confederation’s negotiating partner in those areas of education in which the Confederation and the cantons share responsibility. The EDK also represents the interests of the cantons on educational and cultural matters abroad.
Swiss education monitoring
Education monitoring serves the systematic, scientifically supported and long-term procurement, processing and analysis of information about the Swiss education system and its environment and thus an evidence-based education policy. The Federal Constitution obliges the Confederation and the cantons, within the scope of their responsibilities, to jointly ensure the high quality and permeability of the Swiss education area. One instrument to fulfil this duty is education monitoring Switzerland. In an education report it provides the bases for the observation and development of the Swiss education system. The education report is published every four years.
The tertiary level includes courses in the higher education sector and in the tertiary level B professional education and training sector.
In the dual vocational and professional education and training system, the training company is a mostly private, sometimes also state-run, production or services company, in which training in professional practice takes place during VET (upper secondary level). Training companies recruit learners and sign an apprenticeship contract with them. Learners have the status of employees: they work for the training company and receive a wage.
Training company network
The training company network is a special form of organisation of education in professional practice. Two or more companies with complementary fields of activities may join together to form a training company network and train learners together. The aim of this collaboration is to provide learners with training in line with regulations, by using joint resources, and to optimise the cost of training for each individual company. This also allows small or specialised companies to become involved in VET.
Two-year vocational education and training with Federal VET Certificate
Vocational training course at upper secondary level. The two-year vocational education and training programme leads to a Federal VET Certificate. It provides qualifications to practice a profession with simpler requirements. The two-year VET programme concludes with a Federal VET Certificate. After completing the two-year VET – depending on the possibilities offered by the profession – an abridged three or four-year VET programme can be completed leading to a Federal VET Diploma programme.
Universities (10 cantonal universities, two federal institutes of technology (FIT)) are active in basic research. They provide academic and scientific training for students and prepare them for work in academic professions. There is a three-tier structure of study leading to Bachelor and Master degrees and the doctorate. Access to university study is normally through the baccalaureate.
Universities of Applied Sciences
Universities of applied sciences offer practice-oriented courses leading to vocational qualifications, and carry out applications-oriented research and development. There is a two-tier structure of study leading to Bachelor and Master degrees. Admission is usually granted through a vocational education and training (VET) leaving certificate and the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate which may be achieved in addition.
Universities of Teacher Education
The universities of teacher education are classed as universities of applied sciences. The vocational and professional training and professional development of teaching staff and of experts in the field of special education is academic in nature and is mainly carried out at universities of teacher education. There is a twotier structure of study leading to Bachelor and Master degrees.
University cantons are cantons which are the chief maintaining bodies for a university which is entitled to financial support.
University-level institutions carry out tasks of university further and continuing education and research. There are currently four university-level institutions which are entitled to federal financial support.
Upper secondary level
Level of education between compulsory schooling and the tertiary level. It comprises vocational-education and general-education training courses. General-education training programmes (upper secondary level a) include courses at baccalaureate schools and upper secondary specialised schools (upper secondary specialised school programme, specialised baccalaureate programme). They do not lead directly to professional qualifications, but prepare for tertiary-level education programmes. Vocational and professional training courses (upper secondary level b) include VET offered in the dual system or at full-time vocational schools.
Upper secondary specialised school
General education programme at upper secondary level. Prepares for vocational training courses at Colleges of Higher Education, particularly in the fields of health, social work, education, communication and information, design and art, music and theatre and applied psychology, and lasts three years. Leads to a federally recognised upper secondary specialised school certificate
Upper secondary specialised school certificate / Specialised school certificate
Federally recognised leaving certificate following upper secondary specialised school (upper secondary level general education).
Vocational and professional education and training is the task of the Confederation, the cantons and professional organisations. Together the three partners work towards high-quality vocational and professional education and training and strive for sufficient numbers of apprenticeship places.
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Vocational education and training (VET) at upper secondary level is intended to ensure the transfer and acquisition of knowledge, skills and abilities needed to carry out the tasks associated with an occupation or occupational field. VET can be completed in over 230 occupations. Training is distributed over three places of learning: the training company, VET school and inter-company course centre. VET offers the following courses/certificates: three or four-year vocational education and training (VET) with a Federal VET Diploma, two-year vocational education and training (VET) with Federal VET Certificate.
Vocational education and training (VET) school
VET schools teach, in upper secondary level VET, the school-based education in accordance with the education ordinance and education plan. They also have their own specific educational mandate. Vocational-education teaching basically imparts the theoretical part of the training occupation. General-education teaching discusses content which promotes personal development and the formation of an independent opinion. Many VET schools have a department for teaching the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate. VET schools also offer remedial courses and optional courses for learners. They may also provide tertiary level B professional education and training and job-related CET courses.
Vocational education and training (VET) with a Federal VET Diploma
These are upper secondary level vocational training courses. The three or four-year VET is federally recognised and completed with the award of a Federal VET Diploma. This certifies that the holder has the prerequisites required on the labour market to exercise a particular occupation. The Federal VET Diploma opens up a range of continuing education and training opportunities (CET) in the field of professional education or job-related continuing education and training (CET). The three or four-year vocational education and training (VET) can be supplemented with the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate.
Vocational trainers in inter-company courses and training workshops
These are full-time or part-time vocational trainers in inter-company course centres and similar external places of learning, in training workshops and other institutions recognised for practical professional training.
Vocational trainers in training companies
Vocational trainers in training companies teach learners – or ensure learners are taught – the practical part of vocational education and training (VET) in training companies.
In vocational-education teaching at the VET school learners acquire specific qualifications enabling them to carry out an occupational activity. Educational objectives and contents and the learning areas and distribution of lessons are regulated in the education plan.