In Switzerland, schooling is managed at a state or cantonal level. However, at the university level a mixture of state and federal institutions deliver courses, and students can move between cantons. This model of inter-cantonal tertiary eduction requires students to graduate from school with a universally agreed level of education. These university entrance diplomas are obtained at institutions known as gymnases (French) or Gymnasium (German).
For many years, a debate has raged over whether the three-year high school diplomas popular in French-speaking Switzerland are equivalent to four-year ones across much of the rest of the country.
This week, the federal government accepted a new law requiring all cantons to have four-year high school university entrance diplomas.
The change will affect students in Vaud, Neuchâtel and Jura where high school university entrance diplomas can currently be obtained in three years. Although, Jura, where there is strong resistance to the change, may mount a legal challenge to the decision, according to RTS.
In addition to extending the number of years of study, there are changes to the curriculum. These include more emphasis on mathematics, the language of instruction, computer science, economics, law and greater access to exchanges.
The law enters into affect in August 2024. However, it is not clear exactly which cohorts of future students will be impacted by the changes. Given the significant upheaval the changes will bring to schools and teachers it is likely it will take several years beyond the introduction of the new law to implement the changes.