Higher education in Switzerland
Different branches of higher education corresponding to a tertiary degree co-exist in Switzerland:
- University-level institutions (hautes écoles universitaires) are active in basic research, which feeds into their teaching. They are placed under the responsibility of the cantons, which finance them together with the Confederation, and award degrees at bachelor, master and doctoral level. Switzerland has ten universities. The one in Lausanne is home to more than 10'000 students and over 2'000 researchers.
- The federal institutes of technology (écoles polytechniques fédérales) are another type of university establishment dedicated to basic research. They concentrate on science and engineering, basic sciences, life sciences and architecture. They also award bachelor's and master's degrees and doctorates. There are just two of them (in Zurich and Lausanne) and they are placed under the sole responsibility of the Confederation, which guarantees their funding. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) has in excess of 10'000 students and researchers representing more than 100 nationalities. Internationally renowned, it attracts teachers of the highest calibre.
- The universities of applied sciences and arts (hautes écoles spécialisées - HES) differ in the sense that teaching provision and applied research are intentionally practice-oriented. They have a network structure and provide courses in information technology, architecture, construction, chemistry, life sciences, agriculture and forestry, economics and services, design, health care, social work, music, theatre arts and other arts, applied psychology, teacher training, linguistics and physical education.
The canton of Vaud has the distinctive feature of accommodating these three types of institution within its territory. Across Switzerland, these higher-education establishments bring together, in equal proportions, a total of 130'000 students, 26% of whom are of foreign origin.
The scientific journal "Nature" ranks Switzerland highest among the nations that produce 98% of scientific research worldwide. Alongside Sweden, the country is proud to have the world's highest number of Nobel laureates per capita.
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