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Student Life

The HEMU does its very best to welcome students from all around the world. The following practical tools and guidelines will make life easier outside the institution, especially for foreign students.

Just like any other institution of advanced studies, the HEMU can discuss any international exchange asked by the students. The exchanges proposed by students do however need to be validated by the HEMU and the foreign institution concerned, through administrative procedures.

Information concerning Switzerland’s position in international mobility programs can be found on the HES-SO website (in French).

REGIONAL SCHOLARSHIPS

Swiss students or students with a residence permit C who wish to benefit from a regional scholarship must get in contact with the office of scholarships of the canton where they live. Information and advice can be found on educa.ch (in French).

SWISS GOVERNMENT EXCELLENCE SCHOLARSHIPS FOR FOREIGN SCHOLARS AND ARTISTS

Each year the Swiss Confederation awards Government Excellence Scholarships to promote international exchange and research cooperation between Switzerland and over 180 other countries. Recipients are selected by the awarding body, the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students (FCS).

Art scholarships: These are open to art students wishing to pursue an initial Master’s degree in Switzerland.

Art scholarships are awarded for study at any Swiss conservatory or university of the arts. This scholarship is available to students from a limited number of countries only.

More information about nationalities considered for scholarships et procedures to follow can be found on the Swiss Confederation website.

PRIVATE SCHOLARSHIPS

Aside from the federal and regional scholarships mentioned above, there are numerous private institutions and foundations granting scholarships. The domain of activity as well as all rules and procedures specific to each institution must be considered before applying for a grant.

HEALTH INSURANCE

Students are responsible for getting a health insurance within the three months after their arrival in Switzerland.

For foreigners, there are interesting offers of health insurances at affordable prices, specially directed toward students, for example at swisscare.com.

PERSONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE

Although it is not mandatory in Switzerland, a personal liability insurance is highly recommended. The personal liability insurance will cover any damage fortuitously done to a third party, such as pianos used for individual work, any lended instrument, or the landlord·landlady of a rented appartment.

HOUSEHOLD INSURANCE

Household insurance is mandatory in Western Switzerland. Students should ask whomever rents them their appartment for information about household insurance.

Foreign students are responsible for getting any necessary visa before their arrival in Switzerland. They must then declare their stay in the country for the time of their studies by contacting the services of population control.

More information according to each canton is available through the following links:

POPULATION CONTROL

Once installed in their new residence place for the time of their studies, students must get in contact with the service of population control of their town of residence.

During their studies, foreign students are allowed to work up to a maximum limit of 15 hours per week. They can have a full-time job during semestrial breaks. In any case, all information must be shared with the migration services.

Students whose home country is situated outside the EU/EFTA area are only allowed to start working six months after the beginning of their studies. In the case of the HEMU, foreign students are on a study stay and therefore receive a residence permit B, which they must renew each year (max. 5 years). If they wish, they can sign a work contract (max. 15h/week) with any employer.

SOJOURN TAX

Foreign students must pay a sojourn tax according to the modalities of their canton of residence. Anyone in this case must get in contact with the services of population control of their town of residence. Please be aware that working or benefitting from a scholarship might, under certain circumstances, exempt you from paying the stay tax.

OTHER TAXES

Students do not pay taxes, unless they have a part-time job. In this case, and for foreigners who may have been subject to withholding taxes, the taxes can be refunded under certain circumstances. Procedures must be completed between January 1st and March 31st of the following year. Anyone in this situation must get in contact with the administration of their town of residence.

Detailed information about the refund of withholding taxes, as well as different documents, can be found on comparis.ch. More information is also available on each canton’s website:

BANK ACCOUNT

For foreign students, it might be wise to open a Swiss bank account. Depending on their personal situation and on each bank’s functioning, terms and conditions for the opening of an account may differ.

Detailed information as well as a comparison between the advantages of differents banks can be found on moneyland.ch. Answers to frequently asked questions are available on swissbanking.org.

Housing offers being limited, it can be difficult to find an appartment at a reasonable price for students in Switzerland. The Direction of the HEMU is well aware of the problem, particularly present in Lausanne, and is in constant negociation to obtain student rooms in logdings near universities. Students are advised to start looking for accomodation as soon as they are admitted at the HEMU, so as to have better chances to find a place to stay in the vicinity of their place of studies.

Numerous Facebook groups and websites list offers for lodgings: 

BEWARE OF FRAUDS

When an offer for an appartment seems too good to be true, it might be a scam. Fraudulous offers usually show a well-situated appartment at a very cheap price and with beautiful photos. When the contact is established with the landlord·landlady, they will claim that they are not in the country and will thus try to arrange a visit with another person while asking for money. They will also ask for personal data such as name, date of birth, current work, marital status, etc.

When faced with this situation, make sure to visit the place before sending any money – do not send money via Western Union, MoneyGram, on a foreign bank account, or even through AirBnB. Always prefer payments to Swiss banks and get in contact by phone before giving out any personal data. Ask yourself why the landlord·landlady is so keen on having all your personal data so quickly.

More information about frauds can be found on the following websites:

To benefit from reduced prices on public transports (which can be quite expensive), students are advised to get a train pass.

HALF FARE TRAVELCARD

The Half Fare travelcard allows you to benefit from a reduced price on all SBB train lines, all Swiss bus lines (both city lines and postal buses), most boat lines, as well as most private and mountain railways.

Moreover, travels for Germany and Austria benefit from a price reduction of 15% from the Swiss border.

  • Price of a Half Fare travelcard for 1 year: CHF 185. – (2019)
  • Price of a Half Fare travelcard for 16-25 year-olds for 1 year: CHF 100.- (until April 30th 2020) / CHF 120.-
  • Further information can be found on sbb.ch.
GA TRAVELCARD

With the GA travelcard, you enjoy unlimited travel on SBB trains and most other railways in Switzerland. Besides this, you can travel on boats, buses and trams and you also receive discounts on many mountain railways.

  • Price of a GA travelcard for 16-25 year-olds for 1 year: CHF 2'650.- (2019)
  • Price of a GA travelcard for 26-64/65 year-olds for 1 year: CHF 3'860.- (2019)
  • Further information can be found on sbb.ch.
SEVEN 25 TRAVELCARD

The seven25 travelcard gives you access to the same railways and travel lines as the GA travelcard, but only from 7 pm to 5 am. It is conceived specially for young people under 25 years old.

  • Price of a seven25 travelcard for 1 year: CHF 390.- (2019)
  • Further information can be found on sbb.ch.

Students are advised to get a Swiss phone number to be easily reachable without being surprised by expensive roaming fares. Most mobile phone services propose offers specially destined to students and young people. Different types of subscription from several services can be compared on comparis.ch.

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