The Swiss Constitution guarantees autonomy to the 26 cantons in the area of education. But the Swiss education system is built on a complex interplay between Confederation, cantons and communes. In higher education and on tertiary level, Confederation and cantons share responsibility. 

The Confederation is responsible both for advanced vocational training and for the universities of applied sciences. In addition, it has jurisdiction over the two Federal Institutes of Technology and over the promotion of research.

The universities of Basle, Berne, Lucerne, St Gall, Zurich and the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich are located in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. The universities of Geneva, Lausanne and Neuchâtel, as well as the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne are in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

 The University of Fribourg is situated in a bilingual canton. Therefore the teaching language is French and/or German. The Università dellaSvizzera italiana is located in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.

The 10 university cantons are responsible for their respective cantonal university. These cantonal universities receive financial support from the Confederation and from the cantons which do not have their own university.

Higher education in Switzerland comprises both academic studies at the traditional«scientific» universities and Federal Institutes of Technology and rather more professionally oriented studies at the universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen/Hautes Ecoles Specialisées; for further information see and the universities of teacher education (Pädagogische Hochschulen/Hautes Ecoles Pédagogiques; for further information see 

The following may also be considered as institutions of higher education: IUKB, IUHEI, IDHEAP, IUED, Universitäre Fernstudien Schweiz. Only the scientific universities and Federal Institutes of Technology are allowed to award doctoral titles.

 There are twelve state-run university institutions of academic learning (10 cantonal universities, 2 Federal Institutes of Technology). Although each of these universities has its own characteristics, they all basically have the same structure. They are divided into faculties or departments, including theology, law, economics and social science, arts, natural science, and medicine (whereby Fribourg and Neuchâtel offer only basic medical courses). 

St Gall specializes in economics, social science, and law; Lucerne in Catholic theology, humanities and law. The Italian-speaking University offers courses in architecture, economics, communication sciences, and informatics. The two Federal Institutes of Technology produce highly qualified engineers, architects, and scientists.

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