Many students are hard hit financially because coronavirus measures have stopped them working part-time jobs. There is no national student hardship scheme in Switzerland like in Germany.
Waitressing, bar work, helping out at events – as many as three-quarters of students in Switzerland have a part-time job to help fund their studies, according to the Federal Statistical Office.
But the current semi-lockdown, which has seen non-essential shops as well as bars and restaurants close temporarily, means that these sources of income are no longer available. Increasing numbers of students are relying on financial aid from private foundations, Swiss public television, SRF, has reported. Hardship funds are also available from universities.
Swiss universities went back to distance learning in November 2020 for the second time after the spring. The move came barely two months after the new teaching year started.
Unlike Switzerland, neighbouring Germany has a national loan scheme for students, which it has just extended for the summer semester of 2021. In France, student food banks have made the headlines. President Macron has promised students they “haven’t been forgotten”. He has offered two meals a day for €1 (CHF1.08) and subsidies for mental health counselling.
The Swiss Students’ Union has tweeted that the increase in requests for financial help from private foundations means that “university and institutes of higher education hardship funds (when they exist) either are not enough or getting financial aid is subject to large bureaucratic hurdles”.