What do foreign students in Swiss universities do after graduating?

Most foreign students are in the Lake Geneva or Zurich regions, the report finds. Keystone

One in five students in the upper levels of Swiss universities comes from abroad. After graduation, almost 40% leave the country again, according to a new report by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

This content was published on December 18, 2017 - 15:05

The new publicationExternal link on university students’ career paths after graduation, released on Monday, reinforces a generally well-known fact: foreign students in Switzerland are over-represented, especially the higher one looks up the educational chain.

Some 19% of all university-level students are immigrants, the report said, making Switzerland one of the most international educational countries. However, for master-level and doctorate-level students of applied sciences or arts, this figure jumps even further, to 22% and 52% respectively.

+ Why foreign students are in love with Swiss universities

Foreign students are also more likely to be found in natural and technical sciences than in the social or educational sciences. The report found that 65% originate from another European country, while 17% are from outside Europe.

Should I stay or should I go?

After graduation, the report finds foreign and local students take diverging paths in the job market. But it underlines that “migrant status does not seem to have a quantitative or qualitative influence on integration in the Swiss labour market”.

Foreign students, it says, though slightly less likely to work in the public sector, are more likely to occupy managerial or directorial positions. They are also more present in large businesses. However, this is more due to specific factors such as field of expertise or age upon graduation (migrant students tend to be slightly older) than to an inherent difference.

Finally, the report finds that, one year after graduation, 36% of foreign graduates of Swiss universities have moved abroad. Economic science graduates are over-represented in this case, whereas technical or medical students do not emigrate any more than their Swiss counterparts.

Most foreign students who leave move to a directly neighbouring country, the report states. One-quarter are cross-border commuters working in Switzerland.

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