Students eye minimum grants

Student unions are calling for the nationwide introduction of minimum grants for undergraduates at the country’s 12 universities and 50 higher education colleges.

The Association of Swiss Students said it would begin to collect the necessary signatures to force the federal authorities to take a leading role in defining grants and streamlining the regulations in the country’s 26 cantons.

Cantons are largely autonomous on education matters.

The number of young Swiss going to a university or college is about 50 per cent lower than in other highly industrialised countries, as supporters pointed out at a news conference on Tuesday.

About 14 per cent of students in Switzerland presently receive state grants – one of the lowest rates in Europe, according to Dominique Arlettaz of Lausanne University.

Last year several cantons agreed to streamline grants at a level of at least SFr16,000 ($14,410) per year.

However, the students association says this is insufficient given the high costs of living in Switzerland. and agencies