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Switzerland may triple tuition fees for foreign university students

a flag with the ETH Zurich logo flies in front of a university building
The Swiss federal technology institutes in Lausanne and Zurich are among the best in the world. Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

Foreign students at federal technology institute ETH Zurich and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) may soon have to pay at least three times as much as Swiss students in tuition fees. The House of Representatives adopted this proposal on Wednesday. It now goes before the Senate. Currently, fees are the same for Swiss and foreign students.

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On Wednesday, the House of Representatives adopted the proposal by its Science, Education, and Culture Committee (WBK-N) when discussing the Federal Council’s motion on the promotion of education, research and innovation 2025-2028. The Senate still must decide on their proposal.

The House of Representatives stated that Swiss students at renowned foreign universities pay up to 40 times the amount that Swiss or foreign students pay in Switzerland. Yet the Swiss federal technology institutes in Lausanne and Zurich are among the best in the world.

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The spokesperson for the WBK-N committee said that Swiss tuition fees were among the lowest in the world. Even if fees were tripled, they would still be among the most moderate internationally, said Katja Christ, a Liberal Green Party parliamentarian from Basel.

As Swiss and foreign students at ETH Zurich and EPFL currently pay the same amount, the decision would mean that tuition fees for foreign students at the two universities would triple.

A proposal to set tuition fees for foreign students at the two universities at three to five times the level for Swiss students was unsuccessful.

+ Swiss parliament committee proposes tripling fees for foreign students

House of Representatives also wants additional income

The decision was made against the backdrop of the Federal Council’s desire to limit the growth in spending on education and research amid tight federal finances. At the beginning of the year, it decided to reduce the originally planned budget for education, research and innovation by CHF500 million to CHF29.2 billion ($32.02 billion).

+ Elite Swiss university plans to limit places for foreign students

The House of Representatives repeatedly stated that additional revenue should also be sought in the education and research sector. Economics minister Guy Parmelin told the Federal Council that the governing body, called the ETH Board, has had the option of differentiating fees for Swiss and foreign students for several years and opposes interfering with the autonomy of this governing body.

Adapted from German by DeepL/dkk/sb

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI swissinfo.ch we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

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