Foreign students

The degree programmes offered at Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) are open to students from Switzerland and from abroad. Many of the degree programmes are taught in German, French or English.

Regular degree programmes

Are you interested in pursuing your studies at the BFH? Getting to know a new culture and language is a unique experience. The BFH offers 53 degree programmes in eight different departments. Find out more about the degree programmes offered and decide on the BFH.

Degree programmes and study organisation

You will find information on the degree programmes offered and additional information (admission, matriculation, etc.) on regular courses of study under the heading "Studies". You can search by various criteria, including language of instruction. Students with foreign IDs must submit additional documents as part of the usual registration formalities for matriculation.

Exchange semesters

Studying at a university abroad and interested in spending a semester at Bern University of Applied Sciences? Foreign students can apply to spend one or two semesters at BFH.

BFH has extensive international links and maintains close relations with partner universities abroad, in Europe and beyond.

Swiss-European Mobility Programme, SEMP (formerly Erasmus)

Within Europe, student exchanges take place under the umbrella of the EU Erasmus+ programme for education, training, youth and sport. Since the academic year 2014/2015, the funding required on the Swiss side has been provided through the ‘Swiss-European Mobility Programme’, SEMP (formerly Erasmus). The requirements for exchange semesters remain the same:

  • Your institution must have an SEMP agreement with BFH. You can check this by contacting your institution’s International Relations Office.
  • You must have completed the second semester before beginning your time abroad.
  • You must be proficient in the study language(s) of Bern University of Applied Sciences.

Matriculation and grants

During your SEMP placement, you remain matriculated at your home institution. You do not have to pay tuition fees at Bern University of Applied Sciences. During your time in Switzerland, you will continue to pay tuition fees at your home university.
Grants are issued under the SEMP mobility programme. These amount to CHF 1,900 or CHF 2,200 per semester, depending on the country of origin of your Higher Education Institution.

Erasmus Student Network

Erasmus Student Network (ESN) offers exchange students all-round support. It can reduce the stress of arriving in a new place, simplify things when you’re here and help you make your stay even more fun.

Internship

Gain practical experience, improve your language skills and get to know a different culture at the same time: During an internship abroad in Switzerland you can do all this under one roof.

We will be happy to assist you in finding a suitable position at one of our local partner companies or in our institution. The best way to do this is to get in touch directly with the contact person  for the relevant field of interest.

International Offices of the Departments

Swiss-European Mobility Programme, SEMP (formerly Erasmus)

Students from a higher education institution in an Erasmus+ programme country that has an Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (ECHE) have the opportunity to undertake an internship within the framework of the "Swiss-European Mobility Programme" SEMP (formerly Erasmus). Funding is available for internships of between two and twelve months.

Matriculation and grants

During your SEMP work placement, you remain matriculated at your home institution. You do not have to pay tuition fees at Bern University of Applied Sciences. During your time in Switzerland, you will continue to pay tuition fees at your home university. For work placements, the grants amount to CHF 440 per month.

Erasmus Student Network

Erasmus Student Network (ESN) offers exchange students all-round support. It can reduce the stress of arriving in a new place, simplify things when you’re here and help you make your stay even more fun.

Living in Switzerland

Studying abroad offers a whole range of advantages and will help you to stand out in the job market. However, it requires a lot of preparation. Get a head start.

Before you can begin studying in Switzerland, you will have to make various arrangements to ensure that you are properly prepared. Requirements vary according to your home country/nationality.

First check whether or not you need an entry visa for Switzerland. This depends on your country of residence:

Students from EU/EFTA countries

All you need is a valid travel document (ID card or passport) issued by your home country.

Students from Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore

There is no visa requirement. However, before entering Switzerland or within 14 days of arrival, you must contact the immigration authorities and submit the same documents as students who do need visas.

Students from non-EU/EFTA countries (staying for longer than 90 days)

ID and visa requirements apply to students from non-EU/EFTA countries. Before entering Switzerland, you must apply for a Type D national visa from the Swiss embassy or consulate in your country of residence. If your planned period of study is longer than 90 days, you may not enter Switzerland on a Type C Schengen visa (tourist, visitor).

More information

Within 14 days of arrival in Switzerland and before beginning their studies, foreign students must register with the relevant municipal authority in Switzerland.

Exchange students

Depending on the local authority, exchange students attending Bern University of Applied Sciences must submit the following documents for registration:

  • Copy of a valid travel document (passport or ID card)
  • Confirmation of university admission or Erasmus/SEMP programme confirmation
  • Passport photo(s)
  • Copy of marriage certificate (if married)
  • Proof of adequate financial means (does NOT apply to Erasmus/SEMP students)
  • Lease/sublease (only required for students from non-EU/EFTA countries)
  • Copy of visa authorisation (only for students from countries requiring a visa)

Exchange students in the city of Bern

Exchange students at Bern University of Applied Sciences who are going to live in the city of Bern during their stay must submit the registration documents by post within 14 days. The completed registration form and the documents listed on the registration form must be sent to the following address:

Einwohnerdienste, Migration und Fremdenpolizei der Stadt Bern
Predigergasse 5
Postfach
3000 Bern 7

Full degree students

Depending on the local authority, if you are planning on completing an entire degree programme at Bern University of Applied Sciences, you must submit the following documents for registration:

Registration for EU/EFTA-nationals

  • Confirmation of admission to Bern University of Applied Sciences
  • Personal application
  • Proof of adequate financial means (at least CHF 1,500.00 per month)
  • Valid travel document (copy of passport or ID card) issued by your home country
  • Up-to-date passport photos
  • Copy of lease or, if subletting, sublease with copy of main lease (optional)
  • Copy of marriage/civil partnership certificate (if married/in a civil partnership)
  • Form ‘Anmeldung Studienaufenthalt ausländische Personen EU/EFTA (Zuzug Ausland) Ausbildung’ (registration of EU/EFTA nationals moving from abroad to study). This form only applies to the city of Bern

Registration for non-EU/EFTA nationals (non-member states)

Because the visa application has already been checked by the immigration authorities and students are in possession of a visa or a visa confirmation, students must register in person with the relevant municipal authority within 14 days of arrival. You must bring a valid travel document issued by your home country, with the affixed visa and the documents you submitted in order to obtain the visa.

Fees

The costs vary depending on the local authority. EU/EFTA students pay around CHF 100 for registration and residence permit, non-EU/EFTA nationals pay around CHF 270 for the visa authorisation, registration and residence permit plus the collection of biometric data.

Local authorities

Contact the relevant local authority to find out exactly which documents you will need to present and what fees you will have to pay.

For different places of residence, contact the relevant authority’s residence services/residents’ registration office.

Find out about the different forms of insurance in Switzerland before your stay. In particular, it is important to note that health and accident insurance are compulsory in Switzerland.

Health/accident

In principle, individuals staying or working in Switzerland (with the exception of tourists) have to have health insurance in Switzerland. Within three months of the beginning of the compulsory insurance requirement (from the commencement of their stay/job in Switzerland), individuals must take out basic health insurance with a Swiss health insurance provider in accordance with the Federal Act on Health Insurance. It then applies retroactively. Anyone residing in Switzerland for the purposes of education or training is subject to certain conditions.

Liability insurance

Personal liability insurance insures you against damage to personal or material incurred by third parties. Should damage occur to other people or property (such as an apartment or room), this is covered by liability insurance. There is no statutory requirement for personal liability insurance, but we recommend taking out a policy anyway. In Switzerland, this costs between CHF 100 and CHF 150 per year.

Legal costs insurance

If you are involved in a legal dispute, legal costs insurance can be useful. You gain free access to legal advice without paying high court costs or attorney fees.

Contents insurance

Contents insurance protects household possessions against theft, robbery and damage caused by fire and water. Check the coverage of your contents insurance or consider taking out a policy in Switzerland.

Social security

Old-age and survivors’ insurance (AHV), disability insurance (IV) and income compensation (EO) are an important part of compulsory Swiss social security. Everyone living or working in Switzerland is insured and must pay contributions.

You can get further information on social security from your HR contact or at:

Courses at Bern University of Applied Sciences are generally taught in German. In many of our degree programmes, lectures are also held in French and/or English. To be admitted to the university and benefit from your studies in Switzerland, you must be proficient in the study language.

Bern University of Applied Sciences offers German courses for its international students in collaboration with the University of Bern. These German courses, which begin at level A2, are run by the German as a Foreign Language unit (DaF).

Your language level will be assessed when you register for a course with DaF.

We also recommend that exchange students take the integration course shortly before the semester starts. The courses cost between CHF 200 and 400. BFH will meet the course costs for Erasmus/SEMP students. Interested students should contact their BFH department’s International Office for details.

Other courses

Bern University of Applied Sciences occasionally offers further courses in German and other languages. Contact your BFH department’s International Office to find out more about courses run by BFH or other institutions.

Funding

Erasmus/SEMP students can apply to their BFH department’s International Office for part-payment of the course costs before commencing a language course. If the application is approved, up to 80% of the course costs (max. CHF 1,500) will be reimbursed.

Language skills

The study languages at BFH are German and French. Some individual (master’s) degree programmes are taught in English.

Bern University of Applied Sciences’ various sites are located in the heart of Switzerland – in the idyllic canton of Bern. BFH is not a campus university as such and only has a limited supply of student accommodation. Students are responsible for their own accommodation.

Fees vary per degree programme and division.

How many hours am I allowed to work?

EU/EFTA nationals

As a student, you are permitted to work part-time for up to 15 hours a week from the first day of your residence in Switzerland. Your employer is required to report this to the authority responsible for issuing IDs. Make sure that your employer does this.
During the semester, the time you spend working must not exceed 15 hours a week. You may work full-time during the semester break, provided your employer reports this.
In the case of EU nationals from Romania and Bulgaria, your employer must submit an application before you may begin work.

Other nationalities

Students may begin working part-time no earlier than six months after starting their education, provided:

  • The Head of Degree Programme confirms that this work is compatible with your degree programme and will not delay your studies;
  • Your weekly work schedule (except during semester breaks) does not exceed 15 hours;
  • An employer’s application has been submitted, as required by article 18b of the Swiss Aliens Act;
  • Your wages and working conditions meet article 22 of the Swiss Aliens Act.

Your employer must submit an application before you begin work.

What insurance is covered by my employment contract?

When you take a job in Switzerland, your employer automatically provides adequate professional liability and accident insurance cover. If your contract specifies a set wage, note that the total shown is a gross payment and that social security contributions will be deducted from this. These deductions consist of:

  • Old age and survivors’ insurance (AHV), disability insurance (IV) and income compensation (EO)
  • Unemployment insurance (ALV)
  • Occupational pension (BVG)
  • Occupational and non-occupational accident insurance (BUV/NBUV)

Am I proficient enough in the local language?

A good knowledge of the local language is always important! If you are looking for work in a German-speaking area, first learn standard German. This will give you a sound basis for understanding Swiss German later. Depending on the job, it may be enough if you understand the language and are able to speak a little. More demanding roles will require better language skills. Check what level of language skills your potential employer is expecting.

What sort of job am I looking for?

Think about what kind of work you are prepared to do in Switzerland. Are you looking for a job that ties in with your degree programme or are you more interested in boosting your bank balance by taking other work? Looking for work isn’t always easy, especially if you are only available for fixed-term employment, so it is important to be flexible and consider work that may not match your professional interests or skill set.

Do my application documents meet Swiss standards?

Find out how to apply for a job in Switzerland.

BFH jobs portal