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Switzerland has fewer pupils, more college grads

Come autumn, will there be enough pupils to fill this classroom? Keystone

One in three working-age adults in Switzerland has a tertiary degree, according to a report on the Swiss education system. At the same time, there are fewer school-age children than ever.

The report, released on Tuesday by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, predicts that the number of workers with higher education degrees will continue to grow.

Ten years ago, one in four working-age adults had university degrees or higher vocational education. The report noted that people with secondary education diplomas were also key for the job market.

However, it seems that not everybody suited for higher education actually gets that opportunity.

“We have a problem with equal opportunity,” according to the report’s project leader, Stefan Wolter. As he told the media in Bern on Tuesday, the children of academics are twice as likely as their peers to attend university.

Yet among upper secondary school (matura) students from socio-economically disadvantaged families, fewer than 10% are weak students. In comparison, about 30% of the students from privileged backgrounds are considered bad students.

“So a third of the privileged students at matura school don’t belong there,” Wolter said.

Fewer pupils

At the other end of the education spectrum, Switzerland has fewer pupils than ever. Yet this will soon change: a 10% increase in the number of primary schoolers is expected by 2021. And more secondary school students should be filling classrooms starting in 2017.

The report’s purpose is to give an overview of the Swiss education system. The previous report came out in 2010; the next is expected in 2018.

It does not contain any direct recommendations for education policy makers.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR