Are you a refugee or are you seeking information for a refugee who would like to study at one of the Universities of Bern? You can find helpful information and links on the topic here.
Basic requirements for university studies
If you are a refugee and would like to study at a Swiss university, you must submit an application for admission. In principle, you must meet one of the following two requirements in order to gain admission:
- You have a previous university education
- You have a school-leaving qualification that qualifies you for university studies
Your chosen university will be responsible for actually clarifying whether you meet the admission requirements. The «Contact points and offers of the Universities of Bern» can be found a little further down on this webpage.
Recognition of foreign diplomas and admission to Swiss universities
«Berufsberatung.ch» offers helpful links for clarifying the question of how the recognition of foreign diplomas is regulated in Switzerland:
- Berufsberatung.ch – University admission with a foreign qualification certificate (in German)
- Berufsberatung.ch – Recognition of foreign diplomas in Switzerland (in German)
«Ask!» and the career guidance and information centres (BIZ) also provide information sheets on the subject of «Studying in Switzerland as a foreigner»:
- Ask! – Brief information – Studying in Switzerland as a foreigner (in German)
- BIZ – Publications – Info leaflets and brochures – Information for people from abroad (Study, diplomas – Studying in Switzerland with a foreign diploma PDF) (in German)
On the webpage «swissuniversities» you will find information on the recognition of existing diplomas or certificates. «ENIC» stands for «European Network of Information Centres in the European Region»:
- Swissuniversities – Service – Recognition / Swiss ENIC
- Swissuniversities – Service – Recognition / Swiss ENIC – Higher Education Admission
- Swissuniversities – Studies – Admissions to universities – Foreign Certificates
- Swissuniversities – Studies – Admissions to universities – Countries
On the swissuniversities website you will also find an article on a situation that unfortunately occurs relatively frequently; a refugee who can only produce incomplete documents:
Preparatory courses and entrance examinations
The two web portals berufsberatung.ch and Berufsberatungs- und Informationszentrum (BIZ) provide an overview of preparatory courses and entrance examinations at Swiss universities:
- Berufsberatung.ch – Training and further education – Preparatory courses, practical year (in German)
- BIZ – Publications – Info leaflets and brochures – Choosing a course of study, studies (General – Preparatory courses at universities PDF) (in German)
- BIZ – Publications – Info leaflets and brochures – Information for people from abroad (Study, diplomas – Exams for applicants with foreign qualifications PDF) (in German)
Are you enrolled and need support?
Refugees who are already studying at one of the three Universities of Bern (University of Bern, Bern University of Applied Sciences or Bern University of Teacher Education) have the following options:
- If you have administrative or study-specific questions, you can contact the contact point of their particular university directly. The contact offices of the Universities of Bern are listed below.
- If you have questions about your study, career or life situation, or if you have personal concerns, you can come to us for personal counselling. Our counselling services are free of charge and confidential. We offer counselling in German, French, English, Italian and Spanish.
Contact offices of the Universities of Bern
Specific projects for refugee students
«Open Lecture Hall» project at the University of Bern
The «Open Lecture Hall» project offers the opportunity to get to know study programmes and university operations, to improve language comprehension and to prepare for studies without being enrolled at the university. The project is organised and coordinated by the Student Union of the University of Bern (SUB). To participate in the project, students must have a residence status of F or N:
- University of Bern – Study – Prospective students – Information for refugees – Open Lecture Hall
- SUB – Offers and information – Open lecture hall
- If you are interested in becoming a mentor, you can help a refugee with questions about everyday life at university.
The Swiss Student Union (VSS), together with various partner institutions and organisations (Swiss Universities, Federal Commission on Migration FCM, Swiss Refugee Aid, etc.), is committed to institutional openness and more equal opportunities in access to higher education for refugees.
To this end, the VSS runs and is responsible for two different projects. The information platform «Perspectives – Studies» and the integration preparatory studies at universities of applied sciences «INVOST»:
National information platform «Perspectives – Studies»
The Perspectives – Studies project provides information on access to higher education in Switzerland – for refugees who want to study and people who are supporting them in doing so. The project staff advise refugees, support local projects, inform professionals and advocate politically for change:
Integration Preparatory Studies at Universities of Applied Sciences «INVOST»
The INVOST – Integration Preparatory Studies at Universities of Applied Sciences – project enables highly qualified refugees to prepare for regular studies at a university of applied sciences with targeted support measures. INVOST is a cooperation project between the VSS and the University of Applied Sciences FHNW (Integral project) and the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (INVOST integration programme):
- University of Applied Sciences FHNW – Project Integral (in German)
- University of Applied Sciences FHNW – Homepage – International
- Programme d’intégration – INVOST HES–SO (in French)
Scholars at Risk
swissuniversities and the Swiss universities are also addressing the difficulties faced by refugee academics. This is happening through the «Adapted university access for refugees» file and, in particular, through membership of the «Scholars at Risk» network. The network aims to protect researchers – who are persecuted because of their opinions – and to prevent attacks on the freedom of researchers:
Further helpful services
I’d like to help
Would you like to become active with Swiss Refugee Aid? More information can be found here:
Advice for refugees
Student refugees studying at one of the Universities of Bern can come to us for personal and free counselling.
We offer counselling in German, French, English, Italian and Spanish.