The number of students coming in and out of Switzerland as part of the Europe-wide Erasmus+ exchange programme has increased by 12% over last year, continuing a growth trend since Swiss participation in the scheme was threatened following a 2014 immigration vote.
For the school year beginning in autumn 2016, more than 10,000 students signed up to take part in the offering by either coming to study in Switzerland or leaving the country to study elsewhere in Europe. According to the ch Foundation for Federal Cooperation, this is the first time that more than 10,000 students have taken part.
The increased participation was thanks at least in part to a higher Swiss budget for Erasmus+: CHF24.8 million ($25.2 million) for 2016 as opposed to CHF22.6 million last year. In 2015, 9,650 students were involved in exchanges to or from Switzerland, versus 10,781 this year.
Of those, 5,999 were outgoing students and 4,782 were incoming.
The ch Foundation assumed responsibility for Swiss participation in Erasmus+ after Swiss voters decided to place quotas on the number of immigrants coming from the European Union in 2014. The vote outcome placed in question Swiss-EU bilateral relations, and Switzerland’s participation in Erasmus+ was suspended as a result.
The EU and Switzerland are still negotiating the fallout from the immigration vote but found a temporary solution for Erasmus+ wherein Switzerland assumed its own costs and organisation for participating in the programme.
Beginning in 2017, the newly formed Swiss Foundation for the Promotion of Exchanges and Mobility will assume responsibility for Erasmus+ in Switzerland. According to the government, the ch foundation had failed to meet its goal of getting 30,000 students involved in exchange programmes and so the responsibility has been shifted to an agency with closer governmental ties.
The Erasmus+ offering includes exchanges for students enrolled in university and in apprenticeship programmes, as well as opportunities for adults, secondary school students and youth exchanges outside of school.
swissinfo.ch and agencies