BM 66 – ESU against unequal treatment of foreign students in Switzerland

07.05.2014
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A motion to triple tuition fees of foreign students at the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology has been passed by the National Council of the Swiss Parliament. It is now discussed in the summer session of the Council of States. Should the motion be adopted, those students whose parents are obliged to pay taxes in Switzerland, would pay the “standard” tuition fees.  Everyone else would pay up to three times that amount. Such measures would most likely result in a great loss for the international student community.

Differentiated tuition fees are not a new concept. The additional cost for foreign students ranges from 300 CHF (240 €) to a staggering 4000 CHF (3200 €) per year. By leading the way for cantonal universities, an unprecedented difference implemented at two federal universities could reinforce a trend in which students are charged based on their fiscal origin. However, education is a public good. Access to higher education should therefore be a question of capabilities and not be limited by financial means – for domestic and foreign students alike.

The creation of a unified European Higher Education Area has been the goal of numerous efforts for the past couple of years. In times when the result of the popular vote on mass immigration challenges the international dimension of Swiss higher education, it would be a huge setback to reinforce borders through unequal financial treatment. ESU is therefore strongly opposed to this proposition and urges the Swiss parliamentarians to reject the motion and to ensure the international diversity of the student body.

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