Country information for Switzerland - Financing of inclusive education systems


The financing of compulsory education in Switzerland falls under the responsibility of the cantons (provinces), together with the communities. Therefore, it is financed with locally collected tax revenues.

Concerning the financing of post-compulsory education, there is a difference between vocational training and higher education. Vocational training is financed by the cantons with a federal contribution. Higher education is financed by the cantons, sometimes together with larger communities.

The amount spent on inclusive education between 2000 and 2014 increased in most of the cantons. The amount in funding per pupil allocated to learners with special educational needs (SEN) and the number of pupils getting funding for SEN increased across compulsory education levels between 2000 and 2014.

After the financial crisis, 17 out of 26 cantons had austerity programmes, which affected the whole education system.

Phases of education

Early childhood education

Early childhood intervention is defined as a special educational measure; in this context, preparation for special education and for mainstream education is financed by the Canton and by the community.

Compulsory schooling

The organisation of financing of SNE is a matter for the cantons.

The Swiss parliament decided to change the funding. Consequently, the responsibility for funding has been transferred entirely to the cantons, since the beginning of January 2008.

(Source: ‘Reorganisation of Financial Equalisation and Tasks between the Confederation and the Cantons’ – NFA).

Schooling for children with less severe SEN (e.g. learning problems) is provided in mainstream classes and, in some cantons, in special classes (Kleinklassen) in different integrative forms, by means of support teaching (Stützunterricht) and therapies.

Usually, the community and the canton share the costs. The provisions and financing schemes are based on cantonal legislation, which results in different models in the 26 cantons.

Transition period

The financing of SNE at the post-compulsory level depends on whether the adolescent is recognised by the Disability Insurance.

Vocational training

The majority of the financing is covered by the Disability Insurance (individual contributions; collective contributions to institutions offering basic vocational training), and the rest by the canton.

Higher education

Adolescents with less severe SEN (e.g. learning difficulties) are unlikely to participate in higher education. In principle, corresponding provisions would be financed by the cantons.

Financial support

It should be noted that, despite the coming into force of the ‘Reorganisation of Financial Equalisation and Tasks between the Confederation and the Cantons’ (NFA) on 1 January 2008, the Swiss federal disability insurance scheme remains responsible for distributing benefits and supplementary benefits for initial vocational training for young people with disabilities qualifying under the criterions of the Swiss federal disability insurance scheme (IVG, Art. 16).


Last updated 12/03/2018

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