Market Entry for Swiss University of Applied Sciences

In the recent years, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts (UAS) in Switzerland holds an increasing interest in the internationalization and their general interest towards China is also becoming a hot topic. As the front office of Swiss Federal Government in promoting its excellence of higher education, research and innovation, swissnex China, a part of the swissnex global network, we work closely with local universities and have built series of activities and resources for UAS. 

We have identified the trend of the increasing needs from China and Switzerland in terms of building up world-class universities of Applied Sciences, to analyze where the opportunities are, what are the main approaches and how success stories indicate the directions for the future. All observation is based on the information that swissnex China team obtained first-hand. If you have any questions, please contact 

Why China NOW?

Ongoing political dialogue and great window of opportunity

Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research in Switzerland (EAER) and Ministry of Education in China (MOE) have entered into a working group dialogue on education since 2014. The first working group meeting took place in Beijing in November 2014 and the second is scheduled to take place in Bern in October 2015. Both sides are working towards a MOU on VPET / UAS collaboration, to be signed next year on the occasion of the visit of Schneider-Amman in his function as federal president.

Existing collaboration framework on institutional level 

A Memorandum of Understanding between Swiss universities and AUAS (Association of Universities of Applied Sciences in China with more than 150 members across the country) was signed on June 29, 2015 in Switzerland. The goal of the MOU is to promote collaboration on student and faculty exchange, research collaboration and cooperative projects.

Strong political commitment for UAS reform in China

The Ministry of Education in China has announced the plan to transform 600+ local universities (equivalent to cantonal universities) into Universities of Applied Sciences for closer industry connection, better applied research and more contribution to local economies. Universities aiming for the reform will receive strong financial and preferential policy support from both the Ministry of Education on a national level and the provincial / municipal government on local level. (Find related reports here)

Urgent demand for cooperation from Chinese counterparts

 600+ local universities across China are looking for international partnership and expertise transfer as they transform into UAS.

Swiss UAS in China

The UAS entry map gives an overview of the Swiss UAS’s engagement with China till 2015, including a non-exhaustive list of the current activities that have been done by a Swiss UAS. We can see that main focus goes to the coastal line of the country, however, that means potentials also remain in the second tiers of regions. The two FHNW programmes in Harbin and Lanzhou are independently run by the university.



Swiss UAS in coastal China

Potential: The above figures give a good overview of others places in coastal China that could be explored for Swiss UAS’ potential activities.

Swiss UAS in middle China

Potential: The above figures give a good overview of others places in middle China that could be explored for Swiss UAS’ potential activities.

What’s in for YOU? 

Business opportunities in knowledge transfer: fact-finding study trip / visiting scholar / principal, faculty and administrative staff training / consulting services for Chinese counterparts are possible ways of collaboration. AUAS serves as a good platform.

Business opportunities in international summer schools: customized summer program (lecture / industry visit / small project with industry) for incoming students. Summer school project could also be on reciprocal basis so your students will have a chance to take summer school in your partner university.

Sabbatical opportunities for your professors: many Chinese universities welcome visiting scholars/guest lecturers and offer good packages (flights + accommodation + small teaching fee)  

Develop “working with China” skill-set for your students through exchanges and joint projects: China is the second-largest market worldwide with huge employment potentials. Having the possibility to work with Chinese professors, students and companies would be a highly value-added experience for your students.

Create business / R&D collaboration opportunities for your industry partners: Most of the applied research in China is being conducted in universities. Working with Chinese partners on joint research program will potentially create new business opportunities and enlarge talent pools for your industry partners, especially those who are doing business and/or physically present in China.

Possibilities for joint research in complimentary or reciprocal areas that enables faculty and student exchange: med-tech, robotics, engineering, mobile internet, e-commerce, etc

Create a strong local network which opens up new possibilities: success stories of FHNW and ZHDK in China are great examples.

How to get started?

Student approach: start on self-organized student exchange / study trips to enhance understanding of China (success story: FHNW Insight China)

Bottom up approach: research collaboration / visiting scholars on professor level, start small and get a feeling (success story: ZHAW)

Top down approach: commitment to work with China, fact-finding delegation on top level followed by concrete project implementation (success story: Canton de Vaud)

Who can help?

Your staff who are already working with Chinese partners in their own research

Your students who are learning Chinese or are interested in discovering China

Swiss universities

Your cantonal government

 swissnex China (see Entry examples via swissnex China)

You can reach us by contacting:


Ms. Yuan Jing,

Project Leader Academic Relations, swissnex China


Ms. Chenchen Liu,

Project Officer, Science, Technology and Education Section, Embassy of Switzerland in China


Mr. Bodong Shi,

Project Manager, Consulate General of Switzerland in Guangzhou