Swiss colleges receive government funding for domestic students, but not for foreigners, leaving them with budget problems when Germans attend -- possibly to escape chronic overcrowding at home and to get a degree from high-ranking universities.
Now, the Tagesspiegel newspaper reported on Tuesday, the Swiss government is calling on the Germans to match the funding of between €8,000 and €40,000 it pays per student, depending on their degrees.
“Exploratory talks” have already been held between the two countries to discuss the possibility of Germany paying for students who embark on a degree in Switzerland, said Swiss Education Secretary Mauro Dell'Ambrogio.
Swiss nationals studying at German universities would theoretically be paid for by their government in return, he added. As there are far fewer Swiss coming to Germany to study, this set-up would leave the German government as a net contributor.
The country had, Dell'Ambrogio said, put measures in place to deter foreign students. Zurich University charges Germans just over €400 more than Swiss students per semester, and others only accept students with top grades.
Dell'Ambrogio told the paper that “a Europe-wide solution was not realistic,” and suggested Germany might resist a bilateral agreement as it might trigger its other neighbouring countries to ask for a similar set-up.
In Austria, universities introduced a quota for how many foreign students could study medicine in 2007. And in Belgium, similar thoughts are percolating through higher education establishments as they educate increasing numbers of French students.