Education – Facts and Figures

Switzerland’s education system reflects the country’s federal structure. The 26 cantons are responsible for compulsory education, whereas the cantons and the Confederation share responsibilities for continuing education (vocational training, upper-secondary schooling, universities and professional education and training).

Students in a library
Studying in the Bern University Library. © FDFA, Presence Switzerland

Most children receive their compulsory education (nine or ten years) at their local state-run school. Afterwards, 90% of young people continue their education for a period of two, three or four years. Once they have obtained their post-compulsory qualifications, they either enter professional working life, embark on a higher vocational education course or enrol at university. 

  • In each academic year, there are around 167,000 children in pre-school, around 467,000 in primary school and around 255,000 in lower-secondary school.
  • Around 366,000 young people are enrolled in upper-secondary education each year. Around two-thirds opt for a basic vocational education and training programme, known as an apprenticeship. All others attend a general education school (baccalaureate or specialised school).
  • In each academic year around 238,000 students are enrolled in Swiss universities. Of these, 61% are enrolled in a cantonal university or a federal institute of technology, 30% at a university of applied sciences and 8% at a teacher training university.
  • Today 41% of people aged between 25 and 64 have a higher-education qualification (university or vocational education).
  • In Switzerland, public spending on education totals around CHF 35 billion a year, the equivalent of 5.6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Business invests CHF 2.8 billion annually in vocational education and training.

Additional information