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ETH Zurich: A hidden treasure of education

This week we are happy to have a guest post by Ajita Gupta, an alumna of ETH Zurich, sharing her perspective on ETH Zurich and Switzerland in general as a study destination for international students. 

There is a general trend of going to the US or UK for higher studies and education.  Whereas MIT is part of everyone’s vocabulary, not every good university is very well known outside the field of science and engineering. This post aims at shedding more light on a hidden treasure of education located in the heart of Switzerland: ETH Zurich.

ETH Zurich in a nutshell
ETH Zurich is one of the premier international universities in the field of engineering and the natural sciences. Founded in 1855, it accommodates more than 18,000 students from over 110 countries, including 3,900 doctoral students taught by 500 professors in 16 different departments.

ETH Zurich appears amongst one of the 12 best universities in the world in its field of expertise. 21 Nobel Laureates have studied, taught or conducted research at ETH Zurich, the famous alumnus being Albert Einstein, professor of theoretical physics from 1912 until 1914.

Why pick ETH Zurich over US / UK universities?
 ETH offers various incentives and benefits over other universities in the top league. Its strength lies in the following criteria:

1) Student fees / salary: What makes ETH Zurich stand out from US / UK universities are the low tuition fees (2-3k Fr. As opposed to 60-80k $). This is mainly since ETH is NOT a private university but funded by the government. You can use all the extra money to go travelling and sight-seeing! ETH also offers the highest salary worldwide (7-7.5k Fr. as opposed to 2-2.5k $/month for PhD students).

2) Work-life balance: There is a stronger emphasis on work-life balance in Europe than in the US, which is known for its "workaholic" environment. ETH has a world-class gym with a huge variety of courses and training sessions. Once you start your PhD you are officially employed by the university and therefore entitled to a proper holiday (40 days / year).

3) Stability: Switzerland is the most stable country in the world. People are helpful, polite and professional. You are provided with all the resources / facilities / infrastructure needed to work and study without having to fight for them. Switzerland also has the world’s best public transportation system. The US and the UK are messy and chaotic. Things do not always work the way they are supposed to.

4) Travelling / sight-seeing / winter sports: Europe is rich in history and culture. Every country has its own charm. You won't be travelling every weekend, but once in 6 months is doable and encouraged. Further, there is close proximity to the Alps which offer ski resorts and sports facilities.

If you get into the top 5 US universities - there is surely prestige of being affiliated with a big name. BUT - in the end - it's a personal decision. You have to be at peace with the trade-offs that come with it. Set your priorities straight. And then make a decision accordingly.

About the author:
Ajita Gupta
M.Sc. ETH Zurich
Technical Consultant, Hewlett-Packard

Ajita is a new Coach at GradTrain
She has written a blog for aspiring candidates. It provides a list of tips and advice on applications and student culture at ETH Zurich as well as life in Switzerland.



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  4. Hello, please can visa be extended after completing your MSc programme, either for job or further studies? Thank you

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