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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Support measures for learners in higher education


12.Educational support and guidance

12.5Support measures for learners in higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Definition of Target Group(s)

The Federal Constitution prohibits any discrimination on grounds of physical, mental or psychological disability. The Federal Act on Equal Rights for People with Disabilities specifies that discrimination against people with disabilities exists in the field of basic and continuing education in particular if the use of specific equipment or the involvement of necessary personal assistance is impeded or if the duration and structure of the course of education and examinations are not adapted to the specific requirements of learners with disabilities. Thus measures to eliminate discrimination (compensation of disadvantages) are to be provided for people with disabilities in examinations in the sphere of and continuing education.

Although compensation is most often required by those with sensory or physical disabilities, it also concerns persons with dyslexia, dyscalculia, high-functioning autism (Aspergers syndrome) or attention deficit disorders.

An up-to-date report from a competent authority is necessary to define whether a person is entitled to compensation of disadvantages.

In recent years efforts to promote learners with a migrant background have been stepped up even in pre-school or the first two years of the eight-year primary level of compulsory education and at upper secondary level, e.g. remedial courses are offered in the language of lessons, or pupils and their parents are informed through a targeted approach about the educational programmes and prerequisites for success in school. The aim is for as many young people with a migrant background as possible to achieve at least an upper secondary level leaving certificate and thus potentially be placed in a position to embark on continuing training at tertiary level.

Migrants with a residence permit can start a course of study at a higher education institution as long as they meet the general admission requirements. The Intercantonal Agreement on the Harmonisation of Education Contributions (Grant Agreement) provides for an expansion of the circle of recipients of grants and loans to persons with a residence permit (permit B).

Information on support measures for students from low-income families can be found in the section on funding of the tertiary sector.


Specific Support Measures

There are no detailed rules at national level on equal access to higher education for persons with disabilities. The individual higher education institutions usually commit to structural, technical and digital access to infrastructure and flexible adaptation of teaching, learning and working conditions to the individual needs of people with disabilities in their profile or through a specific “Disability Statement”. Most higher education institutions operate counselling services which deal with equal access for persons with disabilities. The umbrella organisation of disabled people’s self-help organisations (AGILE) has developed recommendations as to how access to Swiss higher education institutions can be improved for people with disabilities.

Compensation of disadvantages is granted in examinations at higher education institutions and tertiary level B professional education and training, as long as the principle of proportionality is complied with. The prerequisites for and content and scope of the compensation are investigated on a case-by-case basis.

Compensation of disadvantages can comprise different measures such as:

  • extension of the time allowed to sit an examination,
  • support from a third person, e.g. sign-language interpreters in oral examinations for pupils with a hearing disability,
  • individual breaks,
  • oral examination instead of written, and vice versa,
  • provision of specific work instruments (computer, tape recorder, etc.),
  • adapting examination media or the form of examination.



Legislative References

Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft [Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation]

Bundesgesetz über die Beseitigung von Benachteilungen von Menschen mit Behinderungen [Federal Act on Equal Rights for People with Disabilities]

Interkantonale Vereinbarung zur Harmonisierung von Ausbildungsbeiträgen [Intercantonal Agreement on the Harmonisation of Eduaction Contributions]