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FAQ START! Study

Find answers to frequently asked questions here:

Structure and Content

How is START! Study structured? 

START! Study is a full-time program. It lasts 2 semesters (1 year) and cannot be extended or repeated. The program is divided into different phases:

  • Summer interim Semester (10 August – 17 September 2023)
  • Fall semester (18 September – 22 December 2023)
  • Winter interim semester (23 December 2023 – 18 February 2024)
  • Spring semester (19 February 2024 – 31 May 2024)

START! Study has a modular structure. The program includes a wide range of courses as well as individual counseling, information sessions and workshops. Participants attend courses that are exclusively for START! Study, as well as courses from the regular UZH course offerings.

Between the semesters, during the summer and winter interim semesters, the program is largely identical for all participants of START! Study. For the fall and spring semesters, all participants of START! Study create an individual semester plan (= timetable). This is done in close consultation with the START! Study Office and the Language Center of UZH and ETH Zurich. The semester plan for the fall semester is drawn up in August/September, that for the spring semester in January/February. 

Depending on the course selection and the phase of the program, participants of START! Study attend approximately 12-20 lessons of classes per week. For each lesson of instruction, one lesson of preparation and/or follow-up must also be expected. This results in a weekly effort of approximately 24-40 lessons. In addition, there is the participation in the additional program (information events, individual counselling, etc.).

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Does START! Study replace a potential assessment or career counseling?
When you apply for START! Study, we check whether you have a realistic chance of studying at the University of Zurich based on your previous education. Suitable applicants will also be invited to a level assessment in German. During their participation in START! Study, participants have the opportunity to learn about the content and requirements of a university degree program in Switzerland and receive information on study-related topics (e.g., choosing a course of study or university admissions). 

However, START! Study cannot replace an competence assessment or career counseling. We recommend attending a competence assessment or career counseling before or during participation in START! Study.

 

Does START! Study prepare for the ECUS exam?
When participating in START! Study, participants expand their language skills in German and English, refresh their professional skills in selected university modules and strengthen their skills in IT and scientific work methods. However, START! Study does not offer direct preparation for the ECUS exam. More information on the content and requirements of the ECUS exam can be found on the official ECUS website: http://www.ecus-edu.ch/ (in German) 

Expectations and Goals

I haven't decided whether I want to study yet, can I still participate in START! Study? 

START! Study is primarily aimed at refugees who would like to complete a university degree or other tertiary-level education in Switzerland. However, it is not always definitely clear at the time of application whether tertiary level education is a possible and realistic goal. Participation in START! Study is possible nevertheless. By participating in START! Study, participants have the opportunity to improve their language skills in German and English, to brush up their professional skills in selected university modules as well as to improve their skills in IT and scientific work methods. Participants also gain an insight into the content and requirements of university studies in Switzerland and learn about the educational opportunities at Swiss universities. In this way, they gain important insights for choosing a suitable education or training program.

 

I already have a university degree. Is it worthwhile for me to participate in START! Study?
Even for people who have already earned a Bachelor's or Master's degree abroad, entering the Swiss job market can be difficult. It may be worthwhile to continue your university education in Switzerland or to obtain another degree at tertiary level. 

We recommend that you inform yourself well about the education system in Switzerland and suitable education and training opportunities, e.g. on berufsberatung.ch. There you will also find specific information about the higher education system in Switzerland (types of higher education institutions, fields of study, duration of studies, admission requirements, etc.).

Also take advantage of the counseling services offered by the cantonal career and study counseling offices (in German) or by other specialized offices such as HEKS MosaiQ.

Please also note that there is usually an age limit for cantonal scholarships. In the canton of Zurich, for example, it is 45 years. This is important if you are dependent on cantonal scholarships to finance university studies or further training. You can find more information on scholarship options in the Canton of Zurich on the Canton of Zurich's website (in German). General information on financing education and training can be found at berufsberatung.ch.

Language Courses and Certificates

At what level are language courses offered at START! Study?
All participants of START! Study attend a two-week intensive German course at level B1 or B2 in August. During the fall and spring semesters, START! Study students attend four German lessons (level B1 to C2) and two English lessons (level A0 to B1) per week. Course placement is made by the Language Center of UZH and ETH Zurich and is based on the German assessment and/or on classroom experience.

 

Can language certificates be acquired when participating in START! Study?
Participants of START! Study attend various German and English courses and thus expand their language skills. In the language courses, topics relevant to certificate examss can be discussed and exam situations can be practiced. However, these are not specific preparatory courses for language certificates (e.g. Goethe or Telc). Language exams for obtaining language certificates must be taken at external providers. Taking language certificates at the University of Zurich is not possible.

 

I currently have a German level B1. After participating in START! Study will I have a C1 level?
Progress in learning German is very much dependent on the commitment and dedication of the participants. With regular and active course participation as well as additional self-study (doing homework, visiting the self-study center, etc.), most people can progress one level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in one year. This means that those who have German skills in the B1 range at the beginning of the program, can have German language skills in the B2 range at the end of the program with appropriate commitment.

Please note that successfully completing a level in all four competences (listening, reading, writing, speaking) often requires taking multiple courses.

 

What language requirements do I need to have for admission to a regular study program?
Very good knowledge of the language(s) of instruction is required for university studies. The language of instruction at universities in German-speaking Switzerland is usually German and/or English. For admission to a university program, foreign-language applicants must therefore usually demonstrate very good knowledge of the main language of instruction. For more information on language requirements, please visit the website of the university of your choice. Information on the language requirements of the University of Zurich can be found on the website of the Admissions Office of the UZH.

Please note that even in study programs with German as the main language of instruction, a good knowledge of English is often an advantage.

Application Process

Some of my documents are lost or not ready yet. Can I still apply for START! Study?
We ask that you submit complete applications whenever possible, as we can only process complete applications. An application is considered complete when all required documents have been submitted. However, if documents are lost or not yet ready, you can still submit your application and submit the missing documents as soon as possible.

 

Do I have to submit scans of translations of diplomas for my application to START! Study or are scans of the original documents sufficient?
Please submit scans of the original documents whenever possible. If you wish to submit translations, please note that we can only accept officially certified translations. Click here for more information on officially certified translations.

 

My municipality does not approve participation in START! Study. What can I do?
For persons who are in the asylum welfare structures, the consent of the municipalities to participate in START! Study is a prerequisite for participation in the program.

For the participation in START! Study a participation fee is charged. In the canton of Zurich, the participation fees can be settled via the cost ceiling available to the municipalities as part of the support system for refugees (IAZH). START! Study is listed in thecantonal catalog of integration programs IAZH (nr. B-01-012). Applicants from other cantons can inquire with their case manager about possible financing in the frame of the cantonal integration program. Applicants who are not (or no longer) in the asylum welfare structures and who are not entitled to integration support benefits should contact the Coordination Office START! Study.

 

Is there an age limit for participation in START! Study?
There are no age restrictions for participation in START! Study.

Please also note that there is usually an age limit for cantonal scholarships. In the canton of Zurich, for example, it is 45 years. This is important if you are dependent on cantonal scholarships to finance university studies or further training. You can find more information on scholarship options in the Canton of Zurich on the Canton of Zurich's website (in German). General information on financing education and training can be found at berufsberatung.ch.

 

Do I have to submit a language certificate as proof of my German language skills?
No, you do not have to submit a language certificate as proof of your German language skills. If you do not have a language certificate, you can also submit proof of attendance at a German course, for example. Please note that we test the German language skills of suitable applicants in a German level assessment. The German level assessment is carried out by the Language Center of UZH and ETH Zurich.

Compatibility with Family or Other Commitments

I have children. Does START! Study offer childcare?
Childcare is not part of the basic offer of START! Study. If you need childcare in order to participate in START! Study, please first clarify the relevant options with your municipality. If childcare cannot be provided by the municipality, please contact the Coordination Office START! Study in due time. We will be happy to clarify whether alternative support options exist at the University of Zurich.

 

Can I attend other integration programs or work alongside START! Study?
START! Study is a full-time program. Depending on the course selection and phase of the program, START! Study participants attend approximately 12-20 lessons of instruction per week. For each lesson of instruction, one lesson of preparation and/or follow-up must also be taken into account. This results in a weekly effort of approximately 24-40 lessons. In addition, there is the participation in the additional program (information events, individual counseling, etc.).

The individual schedules for the fall and spring semesters are drawn up in August/September and January/February respectively. The course selection is made in consultation with the Coordination Office START! Study and, in the case of language courses, is based on the recommendations of the Language Center of the UZH and ETH Zurich.

Whether participation in other programs or courses is possible is at the discretion of the participants.

A sample schedule for the fall or spring semester can be found here (PDF, 25 KB).

 

Can only individual courses of START! Study be attended?
START! Study is a full-time program. If you participate, you must attend the entire course offering.
If you are only interested in German courses, you can find interesting external offers on our website.
If you would like to attend individual courses at the University of Zurich as an auditor, you will find further information here.

After completion of START! Study

Can I directly study at UZH or at another university after participating in START! Study? 
No. Participating in START! Study gives participants the opportunity to prepare themselves for for the demands of studying in Switzerland: They receive support in improving language and organizational skills as well as their academic expertise and gain insights into university life in Switzerland. The admission procedure to the START! Study program is not equivalent to an admission examination to a regular study program and does not entitle the applicant to a facilitated admission to a regular study program. Applications for Bachelor's, Master's or Doctoral degree programs must be submitted to the chosen university following the regular admission procedure. We therefore recommend that you inform yourself early on about your study options in Switzerland and about the admission requirements of the university of your choice.

Good information about the higher education system in Switzerland can be found at berufsberatung.ch (in German only). You should also take advantage of the counseling services offered by the cantonal career and study counseling offices (in German only) or by other specialized offices such as HEKS MosaiQ.

Information on the admission requirements of the UZH can be found on the website of the Admissions Office.