Education is not exceptionally expensive in Switzerland. Universities and technical colleges were subsidized with 3.5 billion francs of taxpayer money in 2015, as per statistics published by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation. Swiss employers are generally supportive of continuing education, with approximately 39% of employers budgeting for continuing education according to Federal Statistical Office data.
But not everyone has easy access to Swiss universities and colleges, nor lucky enough to have an employer which finances continuing education. MOOCs provide an alternative for those looking to broaden their skills at minimal expense.
What is a MOOC?
A massive open online course is a course offered by a university or college which is generally open to anyone who wants to take part. Participants can access course materials online and in some cases interact with professors remotely. Typically, no fees are charged for course participation, although token fees may be charged for certificates.
MOOCs differ from degree programs in that they are typically fairly short (7 weeks on average) and normally specialize in a specific topic rather than a broad category. While you cannot – as yet – earn degrees using Swiss MOOCs, you can earn course certificates.
Which Swiss educational institutions offer MOOCs?
MOOCs are now offered by several renowned Swiss educational institutions. Some courses are taught in German or French, while some are taught in English.
The Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH) offers a number of MOOCs. Some of these are self-paced while others follow specific course dates. Courses offered cover smart cities, future cities, autonomous mobile robots, agile software development and computing.
The Universität Zürich offers 5 self-paced MOOCs in covering these topics: language technology methodologies for the digitization of text; biodiversity; teaching; finance; probability.
MOOCs offered by the University of Lausanne follow specific course terms and cover doping in sports (English and French courses offered), sustainability, and organizational decision making.
The Université de Genève offers 3 MOOCs: Violence Against Healthcare; Global Health at the Human-Animal-Ecosystem Interface; Simulation and Modeling of Natural Processes; International Water Rights (French).
The École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne places a special emphasis on Africa, with a number of specialized MOOCs that deal with topics relevant to many African countries. It also offers MOOCs covering electronics, facilitated learning and other topics. Courses take place within fixed terms and most are taught in French.
The University of Basel offers MOOCs through online platform Future Learn. Courses cover healthcare, energy, music, literature, modeling and geopolitics.
The Eidgenössische Anstalt für Wasserversorgung, Abwasserreinigung & Gewässerschutz (EAWAG) offers a number of MOOCs on topics related to waste management, sanitation and water treatment.
How can MOOCs benefit you?
MOOCs let you build your knowledge base at little or no cost without leaving your home. If you want to expand your knowledge but do not have the documents necessary to attend a Swiss university or college, MOOCs let you access the knowledge which you otherwise would not be able to access. If you are already employed and simply want to stay on the cutting edge of your industry, MOOCs provide a flexible solution for continuing education.