Top 10 Universities in Switzerland for Higher Education

Top 10 Universities in Switzerland for Higher Education for the year 2021

Students choice of selecting a university abroad depends heavily on the employability opportunities. Every year “The Times Higher Education” releases ranking list for universities around the world. The ranking is based on 13 performance indicators which measure the institution’s performance across teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

The list is prepared after compiling answers of several recruiters, chief executives and business managers from top companies in 20 countries.

Let us have a look at the list “Top 10 Universities in Switzerland for Higher Education for the year 2021”

ETH Zurich


Established in 1855 as the Federal Polytechnic School, a century and a half later ETH Zurich is now considered among some of the world’s most prestigious universities in science and technology.

The institute has produced over 20 Nobel Prize Laureates, including the father of modern physics and the inventor of the general theory of relativity Albert Einstein.

The university, commonly known as Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich or Poly for short, has based its success on Swiss traditions of cherishing fundamental principles of freedom, individual responsibility, entrepreneurial spirit and open-minded approach to education. It remains a European research pioneer, which tries to offer practical solutions, which address worldwide challenges.

With 16 departments that conduct solid academic interdisciplinary research in subjects ranging from architecture and biology to chemistry and physics, the university makes a notable contribution to the global science and technology industry.

To achieve this, ETH Zurich heavily relies on its strong ties with researchers, foreign partners and key stakeholders who also support its cutting-edge research.

Located in Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city, ETH Zurich is largely based on a modern main campus built in the outskirts of the town, with a significant endowment.

Students, who follow an intensive course of academic study, have the chance to attend regular exhibitions and concerts, but also to benefit from the numerous academic events held on campus, acting as a meeting point for some of the best scientists in Europe.

Since the 1880s, university students have had the opportunity to hit the dancefloor at the classic ball event Polyball, enjoying the performance of a live orchestra and famous national singers.

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne


École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), or the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, is a public research university in Lausanne, Switzerland. Unusually for a Swiss university, it is controlled by the federal government.

The university originated from the École special de Lausanne, a school with just 11 students. In 1869 it became the technical department of the public Académie de Lausanne. After the academy became the University of Lausanne, the école established itself as a federal institute in its own right: EPFL.

EPFL is highly regarded for its research and teaching in engineering. More recently, the university has branched out into the life sciences. It acquired the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research in 2008. The university belongs to the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain, a union of research institutes and universities which also includes ETH Zürich.

Like other Swiss universities, EPFL is unselective in its undergraduate admissions. Selection is based on the results of first year exams, which approximately half of students fail. EPFL has a highly international student population, with about half of students coming to study at the university from abroad.

EPFL has coordinated ambitious international research projects, including the Blue Brain Project and the Human Brain Project, attempting to reconstruct mammalian and human brains digitally. The institute is home to a nuclear reactor, a fusion reactor and a Blue Gene/Q supercomputer.

The EPFL campus in Écublens is located beside Lake Geneva and is powered entirely by electricity produced from hydropower. EPFL has several satellite campuses and facilities in Switzerland. The main campus hosts regular music festivals, and has two museums: the Musée Bolo and Archizoom.

Alumni of EPFL include Jacques Dubochet, winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and chess grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

University of Zurich


Founded in 1833, the University of Zurich (UZH) was the first university in Europe to be established by a democratic government rather than a monarch or the church.

Now the largest university in Switzerland, it is home to 26,000 students and comprises seven faculties offering over 100 degree programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

UZH is a member of the League of European Research Universities, placing it among Europe’s most prestigious research institutions, with a particularly strong reputation in the fields of medicine, immunology, biology, genetics, neuroscience and economics.

Although its undergraduate degrees are mainly taught in Swiss Standard German, Masters’ courses are all taught in English.

The university maintains active links with the community and possesses an ethos that states all knowledge and research should be shared with the public. Consequently, the general public is granted access to its twelve museums and numerous libraries, and many of the university’s research findings are made accessible in the form of public lectures and panel discussions.

UZH also has close collaborations with other universities in Switzerland, including the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, and across Europe.

The institution has a long tradition of forward-thinking and progressive policies. It was an early pioneer for women’s rights in education, for example, and was the first university in the German-speaking world to award a doctorate to a female student.

It also boasts associations with 12 Nobel Laureates, including Albert Einstein and Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, who first detected X-rays.

Zurich is a major city for business and finance, as well as culture – home to myriad museums, art galleries, theatres and orchestras. In 2015, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking placed Zürich among the top ten most liveable cities in the world.

All three of the university’s campuses are located near the city centre and are easily accessible by public transport.

University of Basel

The University of Basel was founded in 1460 and is the oldest university in Switzerland. As a comprehensive university offering a wide range of high-quality educational opportunities, the University of Basel attracts students from Switzerland and the entire world, offering them outstanding studying conditions as they work towards their bachelor’s, master’s or PhD degrees. The University of Basel has seven faculties covering a wide spectrum of academic disciplines. At the same time, the university has positioned itself amidst the international competition in the form of five strategic focal areas: life sciences, visual studies, nanosciences, sustainability and energy research and european and global studies.

University of Bern


The University of Bern, based in the Swiss capital, was officially founded in 1834 – although it can trace its roots back to the 16th century, when it became compulsory for monks to be educated in a higher education institution.

It was in the 1800s, however, that the university was officially founded, growing in size throughout the 19th and 20th centuries in line with the city of Bern’s own booming fortunes.

The university played a key role in the evolution of women’s studies. Even in 1870, the the institution had a female student -Catharina Gontscharoff – registered. In 1899, the institution’s Female Students’ Society was established, representing women’s interests. Its motto was: “Same Rights, Same Duties”.

The university has some prestigious former faculty members. Albert Einstein taught theoretical physics at Bern in 1908, and the following year the Russian philiospher Anna Tumarkin became a professor (and the first European lecturer to accept PhD students).

The University of Bern is not located on a single, main campus. Instead, its faculties and schools are based in the Länggasse area – a district net to the city centre known as the academic part of the town.

The institution has also obtained and repurposed other buildings in the area. Its Faculty of Theology (along with some other faculties), for example, is based in a former chocolate factory. Another former factory known as the vonRoll site is also to be turned into a university building, and will house the Department of Social Sciences.

Famous alumni of the university include philosopher Walter Benjamin, Nobel Prizewinner for chemistry Kurt Wüthrich, and the writer John le Carré.

University of Geneva


With a cohort of over 16,500 students from 150 different nationalities, the University of Geneva (UNIGE) is Switzerland’s second largest university.

It was originally established as a theological seminary in 1559 by leading French theologian and pastor, Jean Calvin. It was granted university status in 1873 when it also relinquished its religious affiliations and became a secular institution.

UNIGE offers almost 300 degrees programmes. Although its undergraduate courses are taught primarily in French, the university also offers a number of masters programmes in English.

It is also a leading research university and a member of the League of European Research Universities, along with other renowned research-led institutions such as the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and Imperial College London. UNIGE claims associations with 10 Nobel Prize winners.

UNIGE boasts strong links with international organisations such as the World Health Organisation and the United Nations, as well as partnerships with several global universities including Princeton University in the US, Yonsei University in South Korea and the University of Sydney in Australia, with which student exchanges take place.

The university plays a strong emphasis on physical health and its Bureau des Sports provides students with free sports classes on a daily basis. Competitive sport is also encouraged with UNIGE teams regularly competing in the Swiss university championships in skiing, basketball and ice-hockey.

Geneva itself is considered one of the leading cities in the world for its quality of life. Situated on the shores of the largest lake in Western Europe, and only a short distance from the Alps, its natural surroundings make it an ideal location for hiking, skiing and water sports.

With a diverse and international population, Geneva offers a vibrant, multicultural experience. Students can enjoy the city’s many museums, late night cafes and live music venues. In the summer, its world-famous Fêtes de Genève festival offers a programme of over 160 free shows.

University of Lausanne


The University of Lausanne is a public institution on the shores of Lake Geneva, with around 14,300 students and 3,000 researchers. The university can trace its roots back to a French language Protestant theological academy founded in 1537. The number of faculties increased over the years until, in 1890, the institution became a university. In 1970, it moved from the old city of Lausanne to its current site at Dorigny. The campus is linked by public transport to Lausanne. UNIL has seven faculties, with the Faculty of Biology and Medicine and the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment the latest additions in 2003. Approximately one fifth of students and one third of teaching staff come from abroad. The Cantonal and University Library of Lausanne (BCUL) has over two million documents, housed in buildings overlooking Lake Geneva. The institution places an emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach, ensuring close cooperation between staff and students. It boasts state-of-the-art laboratories for researchers, along with well-equipped lecture theatres for staff and students. The institution also offers a wide range of continuing education and interdisciplinary courses. And there are many sporting and cultural activities on offer on campus, including underwater diving at the sports centre and theatre at the Grange de Dorigny. In terms of research and teaching, UNIL has more than 140 units working in diverse fields including aesthetics of cinema, genomics and environmental law. Towards the end of the 20th century the university was part of a project aimed at increasing cooperation between Switzerland’s French speaking universities of Lausanne, Geneva, Neuchâtel and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne.

Università della Svizzera Italiana


The University of Lugano or the Università della Svizzera Italiana is a public university located in Switzerland.

It was established in 1995 with campuses in Lugano, Mendrisio and Bellinzona. It is the only university in Switzerland where the official language is Italian.

There are four faculties on the Lugano campus: communication sciences; economics; informatics and biomedical sciences. The Academy of Architecture is on the Mendrisio campus. On the Bellinzona campus you can find the Institute for Research in Biomedicine and the Institute of Oncology Research.

The university has six bachelor’s programmes, 22 master’s programmes, 11 executive programmes, and 10 PhD programmes. The teacher student ratio is 1:8.

There are many research areas that the university is actively engaged in including architecture, communication sciences, computational science, data science, economics, health studies, humanities, informatics, medicine and biomedicine.

There are approximately 20 student associations and other student clubs based around economics and informatics. There is also a student newspaper called L’universo.

It hosts 120 public events on a wide range of topics incorporating public lectures delivered by Nobel Prize winners, foreign heads of state, internationally acclaimed scientists, architects, writers, artists, actors, journalists, and leading figures in business.

The university also encourages entrepreneurship among students with the Start-up Training Programme of Innosuisse. The Start-Up Promotion Centre has contributed to the creation of 59 companies and has generated about 150 jobs. It has also supported 84 start-ups in total.

The Italian Institute of Studies works to promote the Italian culture, literature and language. It showcases Italian artworks and collections for the general public.

University of Fribourg


As the only bilingual university in Switzerland, the University of Fribourg is unique in offering taught courses in both French and German. The university, which also offers international students a number of masters’ courses in English, believes that language is not just a study option at the university, but an integral aspect of its identity.

With roots that date back to the 16th century, the University of Fribourg was formally established in 1889 and comprises five faculties in Law, Theology, Economics and Social Sciences, and Arts and Science.

Research at the university is combined with academic teaching, and interdisciplinary studies are encouraged among its cohort of 10,000 students enrolled on bachelor, masters and PhD programmes.

Home to several centres of scientific excellence, Fribourg aims are to extend the frontiers of scientific knowledge and find solutions to pressing global challenges. The university is committed to exploring new fields of study and its research extends into areas such as Nanomaterials and Multilingualism.

Fribourg prides itself on the strength of its student community with students making up a quarter of the city’s total population. It’s also a popular place to study owing to its low cost of living in comparison to other regions of the country.

The city’s beautiful surroundings, which combine a medieval city centre with close proximity to the Alps and Lake Morat, make it an ideal location for sporting activities and outdoor pursuits.

Fribourg also hosts a number of cultural festivals each year including an international film festival, a music festival known as ‘Les Georges’, and Belluard Bollwerk International, which celebrates all creative art forms.

University of Neuchâtel


The picturesque town of Neuchatel, located on the shores of the lake with which it shares its name, is home to the University of Neuchâtel (UniNE).

Established as the Academy of Neuchatel in 1838, several faculties were added over the following years and in 1909 it took on the name it still has today. The following year saw doctorate courses established in all UniNE faculties as well as the creation of a business school.

Today the university, which is situated in the French-speaking region of Switzerland, follows a similar higher education structure to French universities.

There are four faculties: The Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Economics and Business, all of which offer classes in both French and English.

Until 2015 there was also a Faculty of Theology, but it has been closed and relocated to the University of Lausanne and the University of Geneva.

UniNE is one of Switzerland’s most international universities, and its Institut de langue et civilisation françaises is a centre designed to teach French language to non-native speakers.

The university is part of a three-way partnership with De Montfort University in the UK and the SDA Bocconi School of Management in Italy, and between them they offer a one-year FIFA Master in Management, Law & Humanities of Sport degree.

This degree is held by several high-ranking officials in the world of football, including Hicham El Amrani, general secreatry of the Confederation of African Football, and Arnaud Le Mintier, head of broadcaster servicing at FIFA.

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