Mass immigration Initiative

What has happened? 

On February 9th, Swiss voters narrowly accepted the referendum “against mass immigration”. This referendum aims to cap immigration into Switzerland, to re-introduce quotas for foreigners and calls for the renegotiation of the agreement on the free movement of people with the EU. With the adoption of this referendum, the federal council now has three years to implement measures to reach these goals.
As a consequence to the adoption of this referendum, the Swiss minister of justice Simonetta Sommaruga announced that contract on the extension of the agreement on the free movement of people to Croatia will not be signed by Switzerland. As a reaction to this, the EU suspended the negotiations on several agreements with Switzerland, including the framework program on research and innovation “Horizon 2020” and the student exchange program “Erasmus+”.

What do we say?

VSETH deplores the suspension of the negotiations on “Horizon 2020” and “Erasmus+”. We wish for ETH to be and remain an open and international university, where every student is welcome and can fulfil his or her potential. Science lives on diversity and exchange and every student, whether coming to ETH or leaving ETH for a semester or more, contributes to this exchange.

As a first reaction on the adoption of the referendum and the reactions by the EU, VSETH released several press statements in collaboration with the Swiss national Student Union (VSS) and the Student Unions of the Universities in Zurich (VSUZH, SturZ, VSZAHW). Further, we are collaborating closely with the Swiss national Student Union and are in constant dialogue with ETH’s executive board. We are doing our utmost, to prevent any negative consequences for ETH students.

How does the result of the referendum affect me?

Generally: keep calm. It is still unclear how the referendum is going to be implemented and thus, direct consequences are not yet predictable. However, VSETH, the ETH executive board and the student exchange office give the following advice:

  • I am a student at ETH and want to do an Erasmus exchange semester abroad: 

Even if the situation for the fall semester 2014 seems to be very uncertain, do apply for an exchange semester on all accounts. The state secretariat for education, research and innovation (SERI) is working around the clock to enable the participation of students from Switzerland in the exchange program. However, if you don’t apply in the first place, your application cannot be accepted. The application deadline for the fall semester 2014 remains March 1st 2014.
Already accepted applications for the spring semester 2014 are not affected by the consequences of the referendum and take place as planned.

  • I am not studying at ETH and want to come to Zurich for an exchange semester:

The same advice as for students from Zurich applies here: do apply for an exchange semester on all accounts. It is still unclear how the situation for the fall semester 2014 is going to look like but all parties concerned are working on a solution. The application deadline for Erasmus SMS incoming students remains April 15th 2014.

  • I am not Swiss, but I am a regular student at ETH or want to apply for a degree at ETH: 

It is still unclear, what the consequences of this referendum are going to be. How the quotas are going to be implemented and what this is going to mean for foreign students will be the topic of discussion in the next three years. Until anything is implemented, the current practices will not change and students form all across the world are welcome at ETH, if they have the required skills. According to Antonio Loprieno, president of the rectors’ conference of the Swiss universities, it is no question that foreign students, which started their Bachelor’s degree in Switzerland, will be able to complete also their masters here.

Not without us (column by Julia Wysling)

The referendum on limiting immigration abruptly added a new item to the political agenda of Swiss students. VSETH President Julia Wysling has seen the effects first hand.
“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans” – the quote on the door to my office could hardly be a more precise description of how the weeks after 9 February passed for VSETH. Continue reading …

Further information:

Joint press release: