An international outlook

Migration, globalisation and the world society of the 21st century: for us, an international outlook in terms of teaching, research and professional practice simply goes without saying. We train social work professionals who gain an in-depth understanding of the international dimension and the discipline of social work. Our students and staff benefit from our partnerships with universities all over the world.

Contact International Office

Raymund Gerig
Mobility Coordinator

Partner universities

Mobility + exchange

We promote national and international exchanges for students and staff. Our students can do a semester internship with a relevant organisation in Switzerland or abroad, or study at a Swiss or foreign university for one semester. They have an extensive network of partner universities available to them. We also welcome students and lecturers from other universities on a regular basis.

Special Modules in the bachelor’s degree programme in Social Work

Special Modules can be offered by teaching staff of the School of Social Work at the BFH. However, also professionals who are active in the field of social work and teaching staff from other Universities are invited to develop and implement Special Modules in cooperation with our teaching staff.

Outgoing students

Semester study or internship abroad

A semester study or internship abroad gives our students the opportunity to extend their learning and practical experience in an international and foreign-language environment and to gain transcultural competencies. In their role as social work professionals, they are increasingly faced with diversification in terms of cultural lifestyle in Switzerland, which requires transcultural competencies.

Semester study or internship abroad

A semester study or internship abroad can be undertaken as part of the regular programme after the first phase of your studies. Semesters abroad are preferably organised in cooperation with partner universities. Students can also look for host universities and placements abroad independently.

The same requirements apply to semester internships abroad as to those undertaken in Switzerland. The practical training includes a practical module of 5 or 6 months and related modules.

Semester study and internship at the HETS Fribourg

Our cooperation with HETS-FR promotes the exchange of students within Switzerland.

Students have the opportunity to attend modules taught in French at HETS in Fribourg and to immerse themselves in a different learning environment. Both individual modules as well as entire semester study and internship programmes (including related modules) can be undertaken and credited towards BFH’s bachelor’s degree in Social Work.

Incoming students

We promote national and international exchanges for students and provide incoming students with the option of undertaking a semester study programme or internship.

Registration for semester study

  1. Registration with the International Office (IRO) at the home university
  2. Nomination within the time limit by the IRO of the home university to the IRO of BFH’s School of Social Work
  3. Confirmation of the nomination by the School of Social Work with link to online registration for the planned semester study.
  4. As soon as the online registration has been fully completed, incoming students receive information regarding the next steps.

We advise our incoming students to discuss their study plans with the Erasmus coordinator at their home university beforehand and to define their plans in the “Learning Agreement”. This helps to ensure that study achievements are recognised by the home university after the semester abroad.

Registration deadlines (early registration recommended)

  • For a semester study in spring (February to June): 15 October
  • For a semester study in autumn (September to January): 15 April

Registration for semester internship

  1. Registration with the International Office (IRO) at the home university
  2. Nomination within the time limit by the IRO of the home university to the IRO of BFH’s School of Social Work
  3. Confirmation of the nomination by the School of Social Work with link to the job gallery
  4. Online registration on the MoveOn and IS-Academia platforms
  5. Independent application for an internship at a partner organisation recognised by BFH
  6. Notification of the approval of the internship organisation to the Practical Training Office of the School of Social Work
  7. Confirmation by the School of Social Work

Registration deadlines (early registration recommended)

  • For a semester internship in spring (February to June): 1 May of the previous year
  • For a semester internship in autumn (September to January): 1 November of the previous year

Support of guest students

The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is an international self-help organisation for students that promotes student mobility. The local ESN sections, such as the Bern section, support guest students during their stay through a buddy system and by organising social events.

Support for researchers

The Welcome Center is the Euraxess Service Center of BFH. It is part of the Euraxess network for mobile researchers, which is represented in around 40 European countries. Comprehensive information on entry requirements, starting work, research and family is also available from Euraxess Switzerland.

Certificate of Global Competence

BFH’s “Certificate of Global Competence” allows students to gain recognition for acquiring intercultural and transcultural competencies in the course of their studies.

Alexander Post, a former Social Work student, received the “Certificate of Global Competence”, an additional qualification awarded by BFH. He is now putting the skills acquired to good use in his work in social services, where he frequently encounters different cultures.

What is the “Certificate of Global Competence”?

The “Certificate of Global Competence” provides the opportunity to acquire additional intercultural and transcultural skills as part of the regular programme and to present evidence of them to future employers.

Who can obtain the “Certificate of Global Competence”?

The certificate can essentially be obtained by all bachelor’s and master’s degree students, provided they incorporate it into their study planning at an early enough stage.

How does the “Certificate of Global Competence” work?

For the “Certificate of Global Competence” you do not obtain ECTS credits, but instead portfolio points. This allows students to align the components required with their personal and professional interests and to receive recognition for achievements outside of the degree programme.

To obtain the certificate, students put together a personal “portfolio of global competence”. This portfolio is made up of 100 points and four components:

Knowledge (30 points)

Acquisition of specific knowledge, such as theoretical framework concepts, which can be used to analyse intercultural and transcultural aspects to ensure a professional approach in these contexts.

Activities & Engagement (30 points)

Through intercultural and transcultural exchanges and participation in international specialist discussions (study trips, summer schools, internships or semester study abroad programmes, etc.) students broaden their personal and professional horizons.

Language (20 points)

By acquiring foreign language skills, students adopt a sensitive approach to linguistic diversity and actively participate in professional discussions at an international level.

Personal Reflection Report (20 points)

In a reflection report, students analyse a specific event and apply the theoretical knowledge gained.

Für Studierende des Departements Soziale Arbeit sind weiterführende Informationen auch auf dem Studienportal Moodle erhältlich.


We attach great importance to diverse international cooperation. As part of our research activities, we work on various projects with partners abroad.

MehrNetzWert (more networking value)

Research project to optimise the support network of children and young people in at-risk situations. 

The international project (Switzerland and Germany) focuses on the support that professionals in the justice, social work, healthcare and primary school sectors can provide for children in at-risk situations.

Project partners:

  • University of Duisburg-Essen, Institut für Stadtteilentwicklung und Soziale Arbeit (“Institute of Urban Development and Social Work”)

Professional partners:

  • Social service workers of the youth welfare office of the city of Essen
  • Social service workers of the youth welfare office of the municipality of St. Wendel
  • KESB Bern (Child and Adult Protection Authority Bern)
  • KESB Emmental (Child and Adult Protection Authority Emmental)

New financing models for social services

Social impact bonds are a new development in the financing of social services. Private investments finance public assets (with profit-making opportunities). This instrument was first introduced in the UK in 2010 and has quickly become established. There are more than 74 programmes today. There are various unproven positive and negative theories about this expansion which will be explored in the project.

Research collaborators:

  • International Labor Organization (Craig Churchill and Patricia Richter)
  • University of Utrecht (Prof. Dr Wojtek Przepiorka)
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (Prof. Dr Alec Fraser)

Provider partners:

  • St Mungos (London, UK)
  • Sheffield Futures (Sheffield, UK)
  • Caritas (Bern, CH)
  • Eckert Schule (Augsburg, Germany)
  • Buzinezz Club (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
  • Boas Werkt (Enschede, Netherlands)

Government data partners:

  • Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in the UK
  • Swiss Federal Statistical Office
  • CBS in the Netherlands
  • IAB in Germany