A NATURAL AND LIVING ENVIRONMENT LIKE NO OTHER
A SYSTEM ENVIED THE WORLD OVER
Spoilt for choice – the expansive Pérolles campus.
The close and excellent cooperation that exists between the State and the business sector helps safeguard the quality of the basic vocational education and training dispensed in Switzerland”, notes Jean- Nicolas Aebischer. This successful working relationship is embodied in the Swiss “dual” VET system, which combines classes at a vocational college and on-the-job training in a company. Once they have completed their compulsory education, young people can choose between one of two routes: attendance at an upper-secondary school (with a path to university) or an apprenticeship. Students who pass the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate can continue their education at a University of Applied Sciences (UAS). Traditional universities and UAS are different-but-equivalent institutions. They are separated by a “permeable membrane” that allows talented young students to move from one to the other via a range of one-year preparatory courses (see below). In summary, the Director of the Fribourg School of Engineering and Architecture declares, “Thanks to its upper-secondary schools and traditional universities, coupled with a great many training companies, VET colleges and four Universities of Applied Sciences, the canton of Fribourg is a fine example of the extensive opportunities that are open to talented young people.”
PERMEABLE, FLEXIBLE, INCLUSIVE
Every year, roughly 70% of Swiss graduates take the ‘dual’ path, i.e. they serve an apprenticeship in a company as well as attend classes at a vocational college. “Naturally, this requires considerable commitment and effort on the part of companies that take on apprentices. But what they get in return for their investment is a supply of suitably qualified labour”, notes Jean-Nicolas Aebischer. Apprentices can also go on to study for a Federal Vocational Baccalaureate, which qualifies them for entry to a University of Applied Sciences (UAS). The canton of Fribourg currently has four UAS, including the Fribourg School of Engineering and Architecture, led by Aebischer. “However, this is not an impermeable system.” Holders of a Federal Vocational Baccalaureate who would prefer to go down the academic route can enroll at a traditional university after completing a one-year preparatory course. Likewise, holders of a Baccalaureate from an upper-secondary school can enroll at a UAS, on the condition that they have completed a 12-month practical work placement. Since the introduction of the Bologna system as well as Master’s degree programmes, Switzerland’s UAS system has grown in popularity. Aebischer welcomes this development, “It has been a real shot in the arm for UAS research activities.” In this regard, Fribourg differs from other cantons in that the UAS’ are directly accountable to the Ministry of Economic Affairs. “Consequently, students benefit from the terrific synergy that this creates with the business world, and vice-versa.”