Success or failure in exams could affect ones marriage prospects in India’s “arranged” marriage market. No wonder there are few things Indians value more than education. Hindus in India even have a goddess of learning called Saraswati, whom they pray to for academic success. Education is not just a means to find a life partner but is seen as a tool for social mobility within a single generation. With the right education, someone who grew up in a small village in India could end up leading a research lab in Switzerland.
An overseas education is often viewed by Indians as the first step towards an international career. It also helps them stand out in the highly competitive Indian job market.
As a result, Indians are among the most internationally mobile students, second only to the Chinese. According to UNESCO statistics, almost 190,000 Indians chose to go abroad for tertiary education in 2012. Of these, close to 650 chose Switzerland, making Indians the 9th largest international student community in the Swiss universities. Student associations in Switzerland like YUVA and InSaz are testimony to the established presence of Indian students in the country.
Universities in Switzerland receive generous funding from federal and cantonal governments resulting in quality education at a relatively affordable price for those who manage to get in. The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) and Lausanne (EPFL) often figure among the top 20 universities in worldwide university rankings for engineering and technology.
Some universities like EPFL even have exchange programmes with Indian Institutes of Technologies (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
While university fees are quite modest (ranging from CHF1,300 to 8,000 a year for international students), living expenses can be quite substantial (universities recommend setting aside between CHF18,000 and 28,000 depending on location and needs).
Indians can apply for the Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to complete a PhD, postdoc or carry out research. This usually includes a monthly stipend, fee waiver, mandatory health insurance and airfare.
Besides universities, Switzerland also offers specialised education programmes through private institutions.
The Swiss practically invented the concept of hospitality education and it is no surprise that Switzerland has some of the best hotel schools in the world. Swiss hotel school graduates are not just in demand in the hotel industry but also in diverse sectors like banking, marketing, luxury and even diplomacy.
On that note, Switzerland is the centre for international diplomacy. It is the European headquarters of the United Nations and hosts several international organisations. Hence, it is the ideal place to study international relations and many private institutions offer specialised courses.