Education is our most important resource. As a business and research location, Basel is dependent on highly trained professionals and creative minds. The Canton therefore invests heavily in the schools, the University and the University of Applied Science.

The University of Basel is the oldest university in Switzerland. With its numerous research institutes, it has been an international leader for many years. The University of Applied Science North-Western Switzerland (Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz) is the link between research, society and business. The public schools prepare children and young people for an successful professional career, while the international schools reflect die the diversity of highly qualified families in and around Basel.

Schools and the education system

High priority for schools

Free state schools enjoy a high priority in Switzerland. The Canton of Basel-Stadt invests heavily in the education of children and young people, and in training teachers. Furthermore, the schools maintain a good relationship with the parents and businesses. In fact, half of all young people complete an apprenticeship in a company that is associated with an education based on a specific sector of industry.

The education system

Compulsory schooling lasts for 11 years, including two years of nursery school. After completing compulsory schooling, young people start an apprenticeship (basic vocational training with a vocational college) or continue their education at a secondary school. Basel-Stadt reorganised its school system in recent years. Further information on this subject is available on the education department pages:

School holidays

Twelve weeks of school holidays are spread throughout the year: Six weeks in the summer, from July to mid-August, two in the first half of October, one to two at Christmas time, two in the winter (February/March), as well as ten days around Easter time. Also, depending on the school year, one-week summer camps and ski camps are organised during school-time.

Private schools

For those who would prefer not to use the free state school system, there are several private schools of varying pedagogical orientation in the Basel region from which they can choose. However, not all private schools cover all school years, so it is worth talking in person with the Head of the relevant school you are interested in. Here is a list of the most prestigious private schools in the region:

International schools

International schools are of huge importance in a city with so many global companies. They offer children and young people an internationally recognised qualification, usually in several languages. However, not all international schools cover all school years, so it is worth talking in person with the Head of the relevant school you are interested in. Here is a list of the international schools in the Basel region:



University and colleges

The University of Basel

The University of Basel is an internationally renowned institution with an excellent research and teaching performance. Established in 1460, the oldest university in Switzerland can look back on over 550 years of distinguished history.
Offering a wide range of high-quality courses, the multi-discipline university attracts students from all over the world who make use of its outstanding facilities to gain bachelor, master and PhD degrees. Today, around 13,000 students from over 100 nations, among them 2,700 PhD students, are enrolled at the university.
Its seven faculties offer a wide range of science courses, strategically focussing on five internationally competitive subjects: life sciences, visual culture, nanoscience, sustainability & energy research and European & Global Studies. Thanks to its excellent research performance, the University of Basel is regularly ranked among the 100 top universities worldwide. Firmly rooted in the strong economy and rich cultural life of the Basel region, the university cooperates closely with national and international partners on contributions to new scientific and social developments. This also includes the university’s special focus on sustainability, equal opportunities and the transfer of knowledge.

International network

The University of Basel has been part of the international university network of Eucor together with the universities of Freiburg i. Br., Karlsruhe, Strasbourg and Mulhouse-Colmar, since 1989. This permits the students to move freely between the universities. It also opens up the possibility of offering joint courses, the mutual recognition of academic achievements, the exchange of lecturers and joint research programmes.

The Basel School of Business focuses on students such as graduates of the International School and employees working for large companies in the region. It is also the only business school in the Basel region to offer bachelor degrees as well as MBAs and EMBAs in English.

Applied knowledge

The University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) based in Basel, Muttenz, Olten, Aarau, Solothurn and Brugg is an application-oriented institution of higher education. Its departments teach, among other subjects, economics, mechanical engineering, chemistry, computer science, electrical engineering and education. The Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst” (HGK) (College of Art and Design), which is renowned far beyond the realms of Basel, and the Hochschule für Soziale Arbeit (College of Social Work) are also part of the FHNW.

Close to business

The University and FHNW carry out important basic research and collaborate with industry in many areas. An example of this is the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, which was founded by two local pharmaceutical companies. It is a globally recognised leading institute for basic research in biomedical sciences.

The Basel Incubator is a further manifestation of the connection between educational institutions and the private sector. It supports spin-offs from the FHNW and other start-up companies with a low-cost infrastructure and proven coaching.

Fruitful cooperation

This environment provides the global pharmaceutical companies of Novartis, Roche and Actelion, the agribusiness company Syngenta, and the chemical companies Lonza and Clariant  with an ideal setting in which their business can thrive. Naturally all these companies are clearly committed to the area of Basel. There could be no better example of how well businesses, the government and universities work together. The fact that the Campus of Knowledge has been built on the Novartis site is proof of this.


Further Education

Basel offers a wide selection of opportunities when it comes to further education:

  • The Advanced Study Centre of the University of Basel organises postgraduate courses for academics in employment.
  • The University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland offers a wide range of further education opportunities in all of its specialist disciplines.
  • The Volkshochschule beider Basel has numerous opportunities on offer in the areas of general further education, language courses and post literacy courses for adults, and the Seniorenuniversität offers talks by the University lecturers specifically designed for people of retirement age.
  • Adults who attended a secondary school in their youth can attain a Cantonal Matur in the Matriculation Courses for Adults (MfB), which can grant them admission to some of the colleges in the region.
  • In addition, a number of private schools offer courses in languages, computer science and commerce.


Basel – dynamic and innovative

The Hammering Man by the artist Jonathan Borofsky on Aeschenplatz.
The Hammering Man by the artist Jonathan Borofsky on Aeschenplatz.

Basel is one of the most successful economic regions in the world. Today, Basel is regarded as being on of the globally leading locations for Life Sciences and is a top address for Nano-technology in Europe. In addition to major companies, the region also has a large number of SMEs and a rapidly growing number of successful start-ups and spin-offs. In and around Basel, you will find a unique density of innovative companies, a cosmopolitan culture, an international and business-friendly environment, good working conditions and a quality of life that meets the highest requirements.


Working in Basel

Good reasons for Basel

Basel is an extremely dynamic economic region and one of the world’s leading locations for Life Sciences. Two of the world’s five largest pharmaceutical companies – Novartis and Roche – were founded in Basel and also have their headquarters here. A large number of innovative research companies have grown up around them, in the areas of chemicals, biology, medicine and nanotechnology. Other industries have also enhanced Basel’s international reputation: trade and logistics, financial services and insurance, IT, design and architecture. They have all created countless exciting jobs and have attracted many highly-skilled people from all over the world.

Tens of thousands of Germans and French employees cross the borders daily in order to work in Basel and profit from excellent working conditions: high wages, low deductions, low taxes and good social security. Many interesting jobs are thereby available in Basel in an exciting and dynamic environment.

On the other hand, companies can find highly motivated and committed employees in Basel. At 40 to 42.5 hours per week, working hours are longer than most countries in Europe. There is also a very favourable environment for business, and the local authorities are very cooperative. All these factors make Basel an attractive place to live and work.


Working conditions

The office building of the Bank for International Settlement by Mario Botta at the Aeschplatz.
The office building of the Bank for International Settlement by Mario Botta at the Aeschplatz.

Working conditions in Switzerland are excellent. They are based upon a well-established social partnership between employer and employee. The first two or three months in a new job are usually seen as a trial period, with a period of notice of between a few days and a maximum of two weeks. Once employees have reached permanent status, the period of notice is generally one to six months.

Working hours are between 40 and 42.5 hours per week, with at least 4 weeks paid holiday a year. Pregnant women benefit from job protection, and receive at least 14 weeks’ maternity leave, whilst fathers receive five weeks’ paternity leave.


Salaries are generally paid on a monthly Basis. Payment of a 13th monthly salary is a common practice. Many companies have profit-sharing schemes, and pay out (voluntary) bonuses when business is good.


In Switzerland, employees with children receive a mandatory child’s allowance for each child, the amount of which varies from canton to canton. In Basel-Stadt, many companies also pay an additional education allowance to employees with children. Other allowances vary from employer to employer.


Contributions towards the obligatory old-age pension, "Alters- und Hinterlassenenversicherung", AHV (Old Age and Survivors Insurance), "Invaliditätsversicherung", IV (Invalidity Insurance) and the "Erwerbsersatzordnung", EO (Substitute Employment Regulation). Unemployment Insurance amounts to about 1.5%. Both employers and employees contribute to the social security system. Employees’ contributions are deducted directly from the monthly salary. Taxes are to be paid extra.

Social Security

The system of old age pensions in Switzerland is based on three pillars. The 1st and the 2nd pillars are obligatory for employees, and are managed by the state. The funds come from salary deductions. The Alters- und Hinterlassenenversicherung AHV/IV (Old Age and Survivors Insurance) is based on the principle of solidarity between the generations: Those working today and paying into the AHV, are paying the pension money for the elderly, who have paid their contributions while still working. The 2nd pillar consists the pension funds that are obligatory for all employees. Employees and employers pay the contributions into a personal account, where the pension capital is accumulated over the years. The 3rd pillar is voluntary, however. Contributions to a private retirement account or into a private pension insurance can be deducted from tax up to a statutory maximum level.

Work permits

As a rule, companies submit work permit applications directly to the cantonal authorities on behalf of their foreign employees. With employees from non-EU/EFTA countries, the application has to be passed on to the "Bundesamt für Ausländerfragen", BFA (Federal Office for Aliens). Find more information with the Office of Economy and Labour of Basel-Stadt.