Most Swiss universities own student accommodation, which they manage and rent out. As an international student, you'll usually receive a subsidized price for housing on campus. The advantage of living on campus is that you will live close to college facilities as well as other students. You should apply for student housing as soon as possible since places are limited.
Some international students prefer to rent a room in the house of a Swiss family, to truly experience the Swiss culture and integrate with the Swiss people.
Most higher education institutions in Switzerland will have a Housing Office or an International Office that can give you more information about your housing options.
Many universities offer subsidized accommodation for Swiss and international students. This is usually a room in a shared apartment, but some residences also offer apartments for families.
Prices for subsidized student flats are normally far below normal market prices. Quality varies widely, depending on the year the facilities were built. Old residency halls can be dull and depressing, while new or renovated facilities sometimes offer high living standards.
Unfortunately the number of places in subsidized housing is limited. Since many universities have long waiting lists, you should apply as early as possible (if possible before your departure).
Ask your university where you should apply and for any information they can provide. An overview of student hostels and broker's offices for student accommodations can be found at the website of the Swiss Rectors' Conference - (in German, French, Italian & English).
Cost of Living & Studying in Switzerland
University fees might seem nominal compared to the Anglo-Saxon system. The Universities in Switzerland actually belong to the public domain and are still financed in large part by Swiss taxpayers, with the exception of the semi-private Italian University of Switzerland. Some universities require foreign students to pay an additional fee, a pittance when compared to the actual cost of a student to the society, which varies by faculty between SFR 50,000 and SFR 150,000 per year.
A student's monthly budget amounts to approximately SFR 1,800: food and upkeep from SFR 800 to SFR 850, lodging SFR 400 to SFR 600, tuition fees and supplies, transportation and insurance (approximately SFR 250). Students should be aware that several payments fall due simultaneously at the onset of their studies, for example first term health insurance payment, first semester tuition fees, first rent payment, which often includes an obligatory security deposit and foreign student medical exam bill. As such, you can anticipate a minimum cost of SFR 16,000 to SFR 24,000 per year, depending on where you study (Geneva and Zurich being considered as more expensive) and your standard of living.
Cost of Studying in Switzerland
Fees per academic year are from 1,300 CHF up to 8,000 CHF. Some universities make foreign students pay higher fees than Swiss students. Before coming to Switzerland, you may have to prove that you are able to finance both university fees and living costs. Student visa holders are not permitted to work in Switzerland, so you should take that into account when financing your education.
The academic year starts in September and ends in July. It is divided into two semesters: winter, (September to February) and summer (March to July).
Switzerland Health Care System
The Swiss health care system has gained a reputation of being one of the best in the world. There is an extensive network of hospitals and doctors, waiting lists for treatment are rare and medical facilities have the latest technology. However, as with most things in Switzerland, there is a price tag attached to this quality!
According to the Health Insurance Act (Krankenversicherungsgesetz - KVG) every person living in Switzerland is obliged to take out a basic health insurance policy (Grundversicherung).
Any person taking up residence in Switzerland has to take out health insurance within 3 months of their arrival. In several situations, you will be asked for proof you are insured. If you're employed in Switzerland for less than 3 months and you can't submit proof of insurance from your home country that covers you, it is necessary to get Swiss insurance.
In some cases, you may be exempted from taking out health insurance in Switzerland, for example:
If you have an obligatory health insurance scheme in your home country that covers the same medical cost as the basic insurance scheme during your stay in Switzerland.
STUDY IN SWITZERLAND
If you're in Switzerland due to an exchange or other international program, (i.e. for students, interns and scientists). In this case, your institution or employer has to guarantee that all your medical costs during your stay in Switzerland are reimbursed and has to pay all expenses not covered by an insurance scheme.
If you've been sent to Switzerland for a limited time by a foreign company.
If you're a diplomat or employed by an international organization.