Updated on Apr 30, 2021
Education is one of the most enriching experiences of life. It not only enhances perspectives but also empowers an individual to strive for more in life than mere survival. As basic as this sounds, quality education is a privilege that only a chosen few are blessed with. Yes, you can take this opportunity to thank your stars to see this possibility and pat your back to indulge in this distinct vision. We are still miles away from realizing this for most of our population, but it is definitely heartening to see more government initiatives and financial facilities vesting in at least a facet of this overlooked issue.
As times become challenging and ever-competent, education has become more investment than expenditure. And our age-old wisdom tells us, investments are best planned. Especially so if your destination of choice is a first world, developed-country like Switzerland.
Most universities in Switzerland hand out average monthly-expenditure charts to students for them to anticipate the cost of studying and make arrangements accordingly. Data below (in Swiss francs) is an average and essentially depicted in a range, since all individuals are different and so are their preferences. Spends are often disbursed and accounted for in the following chunks:
Application & Course Fees
Accommodation & Food
Recreation & Commute
Almost all graduate-level courses taught in Switzerland are in their native languages, including French, Italian, German and Romansh. Foreign students mostly apply for Masters programmes or Research-based courses. Close to one-third of the students in post-graduate programmes are from abroad while half of the research students come from countries outside Switzerland. The tuition costs for a public university range from CHF 1200 to CHF 2500, per semester, depending on the course. The fees for private universities, however, are comparatively much higher and can easily reach an average of CHF 9500 or more, per semester. Depending on academic performance and recommendations, scholarships and exchange programs can be widely considered while making applications.
Application expenditure to universities includes portfolio courier charges, language qualifications tests like TOEFL or IELTS, eligibility tests like GMAT and charges for counselling to pick the right university. These easily come up to CHF 200 per university. It is highly advisable therefore to be well informed of the course structures and pre-requisites of each university and apply only to the ones that practically match your profile and agenda. Expert intervention is always a good idea, whether it is as personal as a friend or family member studying in the university, or even a professional career guide.
There is no point in mincing words here. Living and surviving in Switzerland is expensive. The Swiss are paid well, hence spend well, and therefore their world is priced in the same proportion. While some may argue that smaller towns (example Bern, Basel) are more reasonable than the big urban cities (example: Zurich, Lausanne, Geneva), overall living is fairly expensive. There are housing bodies in most universities to help students find affordable accommodation, but one must account for an average of CHF 1800 for a decent living.
Food is no different. A decent meal ranges from CHF 15 to 20, and fine dining is a rare luxury barely affordable to students. Most of them depend on snack bars in college campuses or the university cafeteria, which price edibles on a cost reduced by 15% to 25%. One can also pick groceries out of reasonably priced local supermarkets and relish home-cooked native recipes.
While the former two are inevitable sources of expenditure for students, this aspect can be controlled. Travel typically takes up close to CHF 150 per month, depending on personal preferences and distance between the university and where you are put up. Walking or a bicycle ride are common preferences amongst students of all streams. Standard ticket charges and visa fees for the journey to and back from Switzerland can be calculated based on the where the home-country is, but this is largely a luxury few can afford during their stay in Switzerland.
Recreation in terms of student theatre and co-curricular activities is readily available within campuses but students occasionally do step out. European sightseeing and road trips are popular amongst teenagers as the natural scenery is luring to all.
Apart from these, one must account for miscellaneous expenses including health insurance and monthly utility bills. An average of CHF 20000 to CHF 25000 can be considered the basic cost of survival in Switzerland, excluding the course fees. However, each case is individualistic and it is always more to speak with experienced counsellors and seniors in order to find the university and lifestyle best suited to your goals.
What can significantly improve the experience is proper research and planning before taking the big step, and proactiveness after making a move. Education is the biggest stepping stone in anyone’s life and Switzerland offers a decent return on investment.
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