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Supporters of ‘fairer’ student grants given black eye

Swiss cantons are free to fix their criteria and the conditions for obtaining students grants Keystone

Should Switzerland’s 26 cantonal grant schemes be harmonised? No, according to almost three-quarters of Swiss voters. 

This content was published on June 14, 2015 - 16:09 and agencies, and agencies

On Sunday, 72.5% of voters and all 26 Swiss cantons rejected the proposal by student organisations calling for unified grants for higher education.  

Supporters, including the main leftwing parties and trade unions, had argued that a harmonised system was fairer and would help eliminate discrimination for students of financially modest backgrounds in less generous cantons. 

Opponents had countered that education is a responsibility of the largely autonomous 26 cantons and they called for federalism to be respected. 

In Switzerland, education is a cantonal issue and this includes student grants. The cantons are free to fix their criteria and the conditions for obtaining them, as well as their size. 

There are ten universities as well as nine technical colleges, beside the two Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich and Lausanne.

Vote June 14, 2015

Four separate issues featured on Sunday's ballot sheet:

A proposal, supported by the centre-left, to introduce a nationwide inheritance tax, was rejected.

A constitutional amendment to allow the genetic screening of IVF embryos was accepted.

An initiative to harmonise student grants across the country was rejetced.

A referendum against a parliamentary decision to reform the funding of public radio and television was accepted.

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