Z. Education and Science
Primary Schools: Pupils and Teachers
Post-Primary Schools: Headcount by Canton
Secondary Schools: Students by Gender
Preschools by Canton: Headcount by Canton
Post-Primary Schools: Headcount by Gender
Secondary School: Students by Canton and Gender
Schools: Overall Information (Zurich)
Schools of the City of Zürich and Cantonal School of Zürich
Apprenticeship Contracts by Canton and Gender
Agricultural Schools by Canton
Schools of the Swiss Business Association: Students
Higher Institutes for Economy and Administration: Students
Higher Technical Institutes
ETHZ: Students by Departments
ETHZ: Students by Departments and Origin
ETHZ: Professors and Female Students by Departments
University of Zurich: Students
University of Zurich: Students
University of Basle: Students
University of Basle: Students
University of Geneva: Students
University of Geneva: Students
University of Berne: Students
University of Berne: Students
Universities of Lausanne, Fribourg and Neuchâtel: Students
EPFL and University of Lausanne: Students
University of Fribourg: Students
University of Neuchâtel: Students
Universities of Zurich, Basle, Geneva, and Berne: Students
Students by Universities, Gender and Home
Universities: Foreign Students
Universities: Non-Matriculated Auditors
Universities of Zurich, Basle, and Berne: Professors by Faculty and Status
Universities: Professors
Apprenticeship Examinations by Gender and Trade
Issued Maturity Diplomas by Type
Federal Medical Examinations
Higher Technological Institutes: Diplomas
Universities: Diplomas and Doctorates (3 Universities)
Universities: Licentiates by Gender and Home (8 Universities)
University of Zurich: Doctorates
Universities: Doctorates (8 Universities)
Universities: Doctorates (8 Universities)
Research and Development in the Private Sector
Education in the Canton of Geneva
Post-Compulsory Education
Swiss School Statistics
Pedagogical examinations of conscripts



Education and Science


While education statistics, performed by the Federal Office of Statistics since 1976, are based on an input-output model, only part of the model is explained. The main indicator for the input side are student statistics, whereas output is measured by the number of diplomas issued. The four areas differentiated in today’s education statistics are preschool/kindergarten; the mandatory school years separated into primary and secondary stage I; the secondary stage II, consisting primarily of high schools and trade schools; and the tertiary stage, which includes college/university and advanced trade education. The same filter is the basis of the Swiss educational historical data series prepared by the Federal Office of Statistics, which, however, only dates back to the year 1976. We were unable to generate continuous series for anything but stage III. While we succeeded in reconstructing, by canton, the number of primary school students for a period of almost 100 years, this series abruptly stops after 1961 and does not resume until the year 1976. For the early and advancing 20th century, there are no figures whatsoever for educational levels past primary school that would have permitted us to construct homogenous long-term series. In order to get at least an approximate overview of the development of that level of schooling in the cantons, we compiled the numbers given in the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland for selected years during the time period 1887–1961. While doing so, we had to adapt to the various terminologies and systems that had been employed by the official entities in charge of compiling those numbers. Our summary table is marred therefore by noticeable changes between 1911 and 1915, and between 1921 and 1931, resulting in a significant impact on the long-term comparability of some of the depicted series.
An additional table reports on the number of students and teachers in the city of Zurich. In contrast to the summaries by canton, this table contains an unbroken series of annual figures, the interpretation of which, however, requires taking the following events into account: first, the political incorporations of 1934 that caused a sudden jump in the number of students and teachers; and second, the obvious inaccuracy of secondary school statistics in the era 1961–1990. If one is to believe the statistics of the city of Zurich, there has been a continual reduction in the number of students throughout these three decades, while, at the same time, the number of teachers increased. Such a development appears unlikely as even at the beginning of the 1960s, there were only 14 students per teacher. Conditions at that time were far less favorable for primary and trade schools, and also for kindergarten. Based on the number-of-students-and-teachers curves heading in opposite directions in the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, the city of Zurich’s student-toteacher ratio for secondary schools computes to less than 2.5-to-1 for the year 1990! This is a completely unbelievable ratio, even taking into account that all special instructors and part-time teachers were included, and that frequent personnel changes were common.
The drastic overrepresentation of the college and university level in the table section of this chapter is explained by the wealth of sources available for the reconstruction of the Swiss higher educational institutions’numerical development. It should be mentioned, however, that at the canton and local levels there is also a multitude of statistical data. The governmental council reports of the cantons of Zurich, Berne, Basle, and Geneva, especially, contain rich sets of data that have only been partially processed by historical research. For example, the 1982 statistical reports by the Education Department of the city of Zurich report on Zurich public school development since 1832, and the “Annual statistical retrospective of Geneva”, published in 1986 by Paul Bairoch and Jean-Paul Bovée, provide information on Geneva’s school system of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Since both publications are recent and readily available, we did not include their results.

Primary Schools 1864/65–1961/62

In an essay on the school system of the canton of Solothurn, authored by demographer Wilhelm Gisi in the year 1868, we detected a table which reported on the number of primary school students at the canton level for the mid-1860s. A comparison between the estimates by Hermann Kinkelin and K. Grob of student levels in the 1870s, the earlier estimate of Gisi, and official statistics which began towards the end of the 1880s, proved satisfactory, so we considered it defensible to include the results of those three non-official sources into this publication. There are, however, figures describing the March 31, 1882 student population in the 1883 volume of the “Journal of Swiss Statistics” (“Zeitschrift für schweizerische Statistik” / “Journal de statistique suisse”) that do not only fail to coincide with the results by Gisi, Kinkelin, and Grob, but also with the later official figures. We therefore did not warrant this table (published without sources and largely without commentary) as worthy of further analysis.

Technical Institutions and Universities 1831/32–1990/91

The Statistical Y earbook of Switzerland contains information on the number of students at higher technical institutions (HTL/ETS) only as far back as to the beginning of the 1950s. This does not mean, however, that the development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is unknown: Mario König, Hannes Siegrist, and Rudolf Vetterli researched it with utmost care and documented it in tables in the appendix of their voluminous work “Wait and move up. Employees in Switzerland 1870–1950” (“Warten und Aufrücken. Die Angestellten in der Schweiz 1870–1950”). We included these statistics, sorted by field as well as by location, in virtually unchanged form.
The university statistics require somewhat more detailed commentary. Upon thorough review and processing of all sources available to us, we find ourselves in the enviable position of presenting long-term series on student populations dating back to the founding year of each respective university. For example, for the University of Zurich, founded in 1833, we were able to follow the development of the student population over a period of 150 years by availing ourselves of additional sources apart from official statistics, particularly the records meticulously kept by the caretaker of the University of Zurich from the years 1833–1883, a 1896 annex to those statistics from an unknown source, and the reports of the government council of Zurich. The last-mentioned source in addition served to determine the annual variations in the number of professors for the period between 1878/79 to 1964/65. For the University of Basle, founded in the year 1460, we had to content ourselves with sketching the development beginning in the early 1830s. Our main source were the reports of the government council and tables reporting on the number of students and professors published since 1921 in the Statistical Yearbook of the canton Basle-City. Government council reports on the University of Geneva, which had been founded in 1873 after having existed for centuries as an academy, yielded valuable data for the 1870s and ‘80s. A contemporary publication from the year 1878 showed the development of student numbers for the Geneva academy for the years 1831–1872. In the first edition of volume 1906 of the bulletins of the Statistical Bureau of Berne, entitled “Educational Statistics – Canton of Berne” (“Statistik des Unterrichtswesen im Kanton Bern”), we found a summary, covering the years 1836–1906, of the number of students and professors at the University of Berne, which was founded in 1834. The reports of the Berne government council supplied complementary information, especially with regard to the number of professors teaching at the University of Berne. On the other hand, our search for statistics covering the number of students and professors at the Lausanne Academy in the early and advancing 19th century remained fruitless. Uninterrupted annual statistics do not begin for this higher educational institution until 1887, three years before the conversion of the academy into a university. The same applies to Neuchâtel’s higher educational institution, with the exception that it continued to exist as an academy until the year 1908. The documentation of student numbers at the University of Fribourg, which had been established in 1889 without any prior history, presented the least trouble.
The official statistics are characterized by several major breaks, each of which implying a change in presentation. A first overview of the number of students and matriculated and non-matriculated auditors at individual departments is limited to the universities of Zurich, Basle, Geneva, and Berne, and reports on the years 1876–1886. Between 1887 and 1913, the number of matriculated foreigners at each department is supplied as well. In addition, the summaries published in the “Journal of Swiss Statistics” also report on the countries of origin for foreign students. However, the sometimes extensive coverage of student and auditor populations at Swiss higher educational institutions ceases in this source after 1913. The less detailed, but still informative, summaries in the Statistical Y earbook of Switzerland underwent several changes, which had the effect that some of the series we compiled have gaps.
The main problem with the official statistics is that the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Lausanne (EPF), founded in 1853, was assigned to the Philosophical Faculty II of the University of Lausanne until 1962. No such assignment ever existed for the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Zurich (ETH); the student and faculty numbers of this higher educational institution, dating back to its founding year of 1855, were always carried separate from the University of Zurich statistics. Each year between 1932 and 1962, the higher educational institution statistics in the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland contain a supplementary table, in small print, which reports on the number of students at the EPF Lausanne, but those figures are not adequate to provide a separate overview of the development of the EPF Lausanne; to complete such an assignment successfully, we would need information on the number of students before 1932, the number of foreign students before 1950, and the number of professors before 1966. Since we were unable to locate those statistics, we had no choice other than to treat the EPF Lausanne – even after 1962 – as a part of the University of Lausanne, or as a separate faculty of the University of Lausanne. In contrast, we counted the ETH Zurich, together with the St. Gall Higher School of Commerce (later the Institute for Economic and Social Sciences), founded in 1899, and the Theological Faculty of Lucerne, founded in 1878, as nonuniversity higher educational institutions. To avoid misunderstandings, we wish to emphasize that we performed this classification solely in order to achieve homogenous long-term series at the university level. Needless to say, we printed whatever separate time series were available for the EPF Lausanne.
The Statistical Y earbook of Switzerland shows summary aggregates at the faculty level. We did not use those long-term series because, with one exception, we consider them to be non-homogenous values. The exception is the Theological Faculty; in all other cases it is impossible to calculate the number of students matriculated at a certain department over an extended period of time by adding the numbers from individual universities. An initial roadblock is the fact that the Federal Statistical Office’s student statistics distinguish between the Philosophical Faculty I and the Philosophical Faculty II only since 1917. In addition, the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences in Geneva and the School of Higher Studies (“Ecole des Hautes études”) in Lausanne were counted as part of the Philosophical Faculty until 1916, but as part of the Law Faculty since then. After 1916, civic, social, and economic sciences, which we combine under the umbrella term “economy”, were usually assigned to the schools of law; only at the University of Basle did they form a department at the Philosophical Faculty I. Before 1966, there is no published data on the number of students and professors who studied or taught economic science at the University of Basle. An additional factor is that in Fribourg and Neuchâtel, for decades it was possible to complete the basic course of studies in medicine at the Philosophical Faculty II. Finally, it must be mentioned once again that the official statistics before 1963 does not differentiate between the Philosophical Faculty II and the EPF Lausanne.
In 1968, the official statistics finally acknowledged economic science as an independent course of study. At the same time, the Federal Statistical Office introduced a column with a header of “various” which accommodated existing and newly created disciplines at the universities of Geneva, Berne, Lausanne, and Neuchâtel. With the help of canton yearbooks, we were able to assign the “leftovers” populating this column to the five classic faculties and the economic department. Since 1978, we anyway had no choice but to resort to the statistical yearbooks of individual cantons and the Federal Statistical Office’s student and faculty statistics in order to continue to follow the matriculation and teaching activities in the individual departments. Likewise the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland no longer reports after 1977 on the country of origin of foreign students at individual universities, a piece of information which had been recorded with varying degrees of accuracy during the years 1916–1932 and then again beginning with 1963.
We mentioned at the beginning of this commentary that, compared to other schools, higher educational institutions are substantially overrepresented in the table section of this chapter. Nevertheless, our higher educational institution statistics cannot be considered complete. Such a claim would have to be denied due to the fact that we excluded all summer semester statistics, which experts consider as less representative than the winter semester statistics. But even the winter semester statistics in part could be improved, for example by differentiating between gender, and canton of origin for Swiss students, and by gender, faculty, and country of origin for foreign female students. Additional information could also be provided for auditors and teachers. Left entirely unconsidered were a survey of the student body at the University of Basle for the years 1919–1928, based on the processing of matriculation sheets, and the three large special surveys of the Swiss Statistical Office in 1935/36, 1945/46, and 1959/60.

Diplomas 1833–1984

The “output” of Swiss educational institutions appears to have been recorded less thoroughly than the number of students matriculated in these institutions. A table discovered in the appendix of the commemorative publication for the 100-year anniversary celebration of the University of Zurich – and incorporated into this publication – proves, however, that the Federal Statistical Office only tackled part of the data available at the time. Without doubt, it would be worthwhile to systematically comb the canton government council reports for data on higher educational institution diplomas and other certificates of competency. This same method would probably serve to extend back by several years, if not decades, the series of issued “matura” graduation diplomas. The official matura graduation statistics, which begin around the turn of the century (the number of students taking the test was recorded at the canton level already in the 1890s) until 1931 differentiates only between graduations with and without Latin. The following year marks the first listing of three different matura graduation types: A, emphasizing ancient languages; C, emphasizing math and science; and B being in-between. In the 1970s, this trio was expanded into a quintet through the addition of type D (modern languages), and E (commerce). A retrospective survey performed by the Federal Office of Statistics and the Swiss Documentation Project for School and Education Issues (CESDOC) reports on the number of matura diplomas issued at these five types of high schools in the years 1970–1985. After and including 1970, our presentation is based entirely on this high quality source which at times deviates significantly from the running summaries published currently in the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland.
Data reporting on the number of licentiate diplomas (“Lizentiate”) issued by faculty at the universities is available since the late 1960s. Because these statistics only continue for a few years, we limit ourselves to presenting, for each university, the total number of issued licentiate diplomas between 1931 and 1977, as reported by the Statistical Y earbook of Switzerland. The official statistics provide more comprehensive documentation on doctorates issued by the faculties. We therefore were in a position of being able to prepare a table of doctorates, sorted by university and faculty, which covers the years 1916–1977. Analogous to the student and professor statistics, this overview also contains graduations at the EPF Lausanne, but not those of the “non-university” higher educational institutions. The fact that, in early years, the official statistics consistently differentiated between “Dr. iur.”, “Dr. oec.”, and “Dr. phil.”, while no “Dr. med.” was ever awarded by the philosophical-natural science departments of Neuchâtel and Fribourg, opened up to us the possibility of determining the national total of issued doctorates by each of the departments over a period of several decades. We took advantage of this opportunity, but also report, in another table, on diplomas and doctorates issued at the ETH Zurich, the St. Gall Higher School of Commerce, and the Lucerne Theological Faculty. The Lucerne Theological Faculty diplomas, however, are contained in the official statistics only since 1974.

SOURCE: «Education and Sciences» in Ritzmann/Siegenthaler, Historical Statistics of Switzerland, Zürich: Chronos, 1996, 1151-1158

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The current chapter contains 48 table(s) between 1831 and 2004