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Pilot project Swiss government funds student exchanges outside Europe

Form for students applying for an international exchange programme

A growing number of Swiss students have taken part in European exchange programmes despite tensions at a political level with Brussels  


Switzerland’s Federal Council has agreed to fund a CHF2.4 million ($2.5 million) pilot project to facilitate exchange programmes with students from outside Europe, notably the United States, Canada and China. 

The three-year trial is intended to explore possibilities for further exchange programmes beyond European borders, according to the education ministry. It enables the Swiss government to financially support joint pilot projects between Swiss educational institutions and partners from countries that do not participate in the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme. 

The pilot project is based on a strategy, approved by parliament last year, to promote educational mobility at an international level. The issue of exchange programmes became a hot topic in Switzerland after the country’s February 2014 vote to introduce quotas on immigrants from the European Union. Despite not being a member of the European Union, Switzerland had previously been allowed to participate in the Erasmus and Erasmus+ student mobility programmes since 1992. 

But negotiations on full membership in the scheme were suspended following voters’ approval of the immigration quotas for EU citizens.

+ More on Swiss exchange programme involvement, including Erasmus+

In November, Switzerland’s parliament called for the country’s full re-integration into Erasmus+. It also approved CHF114.5 million in funding for a temporary solution to help Swiss students participate in European exchanges from 2018-2020.

Movetiaexternal link, a national promotion agency for student exchange, has been asked to advise possible project leaders for the government’s new pilot project for exchanges outside Europe. The regulations will come into force in March.

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