Relief for companies – light on the horizon for academics from third countries – News


The Council of States finds that a Swiss university degree should facilitate an easier transition into the labor market.

Entrepreneur Dorian Selz repeatedly has employees from third countries in his Zurich company Squirro, which wants to make ChatGPT usable for companies. His technology manager, for example, comes from India with a master’s degree from the EPFL in Lausanne. A stroke of luck in Selz’ eyes.

“In India, he did a bachelor’s degree at the Indian Institute of Technology, which is at least as good as the ETH in Zurich or Lausanne,” he says. “He was chosen from a million applicants for 2025, or something like that – simply one of the best. That’s how he got a place at the EPFL. And to have such incredible talent as part of a team is just a privilege.”

Urgently wanted specialists

For Dorian Selz it is incomprehensible. Switzerland finances students from third countries. They primarily study in MINT subjects – disciplines whose graduates are urgently needed. But if you want to work in Switzerland after your studies, it’s complicated.

That should change. Today, the Council of States decided to support a bill intended to facilitate access to the labor market. The advisory commission voted not to do so.

In 2021, 4,366 people from third countries graduated from Swiss universities. 8,500 quotas per year are available for these and all other highly qualified people from third countries. A complex process has to be carried out for each one.

We had to document his life up to that point in detail.

Dorian Selz says: “We had to submit a lot of documents: why he is such a gifted person, why this position cannot be offered to any comparable candidate here – in addition to the fact that we had to document his entire life to the last detail and at no time were sure that we would even get a work permit for him.»

This process took half a year. Saurabh Jain also has very fond memories of the time he was employed seven years ago. At the same time, he has never understood why Switzerland makes it so difficult for people like him to enter the job market.

“Students come to a country, stay for two or three years and get to know it. You should at least give them the opportunity to work there,” he says. “They should at least be given an opportunity to work here and be useful to the Swiss economy. If I understand correctly, the universities are financed with public money. This would be the opportunity to finally give something back. I think that’s the worst moment to get rid of her.”

According to the Swiss Employers’ Association, it is necessary to exhaust all sources in times of a shortage of skilled workers. Director Roland A. Müller says: “And by the way, these people are already integrated. They live with us, they study with us and enjoy expensive training that is financed by taxpayers’ money, so it is in the interests of society and the economy that they are allowed to stay.”

At the same time, it is a manageable framework. There aren’t thousands who graduate here and then want to stay in the Swiss job market.

Entrepreneur Dorian Selz is currently no longer considering applications from third countries. The chance that he will receive one of the 8,500 contingents is too small. The sign from Bern could one day make him rethink.

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