International Mobility in Education


Support for mobility and exchange in education is an important instrument of Swiss education policy. The aim is to enable people of all age groups, but particularly the younger generations, to pursue initial and subsequent training to acquire international, intercultural, linguistic and technical competences. For this reason, the Confederation supports cross-border mobility and exchange programmes in all areas of education. This support serves to complement corresponding joint measures taken by the Confederation and the cantons at national level.

Swiss participation in EU education programme ‘Erasmus+’

Swiss cooperation with the European Union (EU) in the area of education has been a central and successful element of the Confederation’s international support policy for over two decades. Swiss participation in the EU’s multi-year education programmes – whether it on a project-per-project basis or through full-fledged participation – has enabled Switzerland to support individual learning mobility as well as cooperation initiatives between Swiss and EU institutions and stakeholders.

Switzerland currently holds ‘Partner Country’ status in the activities of the EU education programme Erasmus+ (2014-2020).

In 2016, ‘Erasmus+’ enabled over 10,000 people from Switzerland and the EU to pursue training abroad. All things considered, the level of participation has steadily increased in recent years. The Federal Council’s planned budget allocation for 2018-2020 currently stands at CHF 114.5 million.

The Swiss Foundation for the Promotion of Exchanges and Mobility (SFAM, Movetia) is responsible for implementation of ‘Erasmus+’. This foundation is supported by both the Confederation and the cantons. More complete information about alternative participation conditions can be found on the website of Movetia.

Current EU education programme ‘Erasmus+’

The Erasmus+ programme is comprised of three main priority areas (referred to as ‘Key Actions’). The activities carried out within this framework and the opportunities they present are open to all institutions at all levels within the education system (compulsory education, vocational education and training, higher education, professional education, continuing education and training) as well as to institutions that deal with extracurricular activities for young people.

Learning mobility of individuals: The aim of this Key Action is to support learning across national boundaries as well as the mobility of students and teachers. Secondary activities include stays abroad in a partner institution, apprenticeships and traineeships in companies, volunteer work or group exchange options for young people. There are also mobility options for workers such as continuing education and training, as well as teacher exchanges between partner institutions, which have proved successful in previous programme actions.

Strategic partnerships: The aim of this Key Action is to intensify European cooperation by strengthening strategic partnerships between educational institutions, local or regional authorities, social partners and youth organisations. The Key Action also promotes different types of strategic partnership that have proven successful and offers options for recipients at all education levels. Activities include class exchange projects, study seminars, cooperation initiatives relating to extracurricular activities as well as innovation transfer for education providers (particularly with regards to simplified recognition of skills and competences).

Support for policy reform: The aim of this Key Action is to lend support to decision makers at all levels as well as to various networks, pilot projects, continuing education and training and research studies. Priority is mainly given to activities that improve the quality of data and level of transparency of education and VET systems. The Eurydice information network on education helps to improve the quality of data for policy reforms in Europe.

Various instruments are aimed at improving transparency:

  • Europass and Youthpass facilitate the recognition of formal and non-formal learning and mobility outcomes in all areas of education.
  • Euroguidance supports internationalisation in vocational, educational and career guidance.
  • In the higher education sector, the ENIC/NARIC networks facilitate the mutual recognition of higher education qualifications.
  • In the area of skills formation, the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (EQF-LLL) makes it easier to compare vocational and professional qualifications and competences throughout Europe. In addition, the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) and European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET) help to improve transparency.
  • In the area of international learning mobility opportunities, the Eurodesk network provides information about stays abroad and international events for young people.

Switzerland’s participation status

Switzerland has been a full-fledged participant in EU education programmes ever since the Swiss-EU bilateral agreements came into effect. Examples include the Erasmus and Comett programmes (between 1992 and 1994) as well as the Lifelong Learning and Youth in Action programmes (between 2011 and 2013). In the interim, and since 2014, Switzerland has held ‘Partner Country’ status, which means that Swiss participation rights are limited to individual projects. This status also means that the Confederation must provide direct funding to Swiss parties wishing to take part in these projects. The Federal Council will decide whether Switzerland will participate in the follow-up programme to ‘Erasmus+’ as soon as the key outcome indicators are known.


SERI, Gaétan Lagger
Scientific Advisor
EU Education and Youth Programmes
T +41 58 463 26 74