A PhD boom has been underway across the globe in recent years. The latest country to get in on the action? Switzerland. In fact, the number of PhD students in Switzerland reached record numbers in 2017. Here’s a closer look at the figures, according to a recent press release from the Swiss government’s Federal Council.
Breaking Down the Numbers
Just over 31,000 doctoral students were pursuing PhD studies at one of Switzerland’s two federal technical universities last year. This represented a 1,000 student increase from 2016, and a staggering 10,000 student increase over the past decade.
The disciplines drawing the most interest were computing and science and engineering at 7.5 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively -- both significantly outpacing the average increase of 3.1 percent.
Also of note? Women comprised 34 percent of PhD students, while international students accounted for 52.8 percent of those pursuing doctoral studies. In terms of native languages, meanwhile, Native German speakers made up the largest share of PhD students at 48.1 percent, followed by French speakers, Italian speakers, and English speakers at 17.1 percent, 6.8 percent, and 6.5 percent, respectively. Students speaking “other” native languages comprised 21.5 percent of total PhDs.
Why PhDs Matters
According to the press release, these growing numbers speak to the attractiveness of Switzerland for advanced degrees. It also bodes well for innovation due to the increase in industry specialists in sought-after areas, including the transfer of knowledge and technology.
Switzerland’s PhDs will also continue to play a critical role in the digitization of Swiss business and society in priority areas, including data science, health, advanced manufacturing and energy. They’re expected to make contributions through digitization in other areas, as well. “For instance, drones can be used in agriculture to monitor the development of crops in order to optimize cultivation. In the field of construction, the world’s first building is being erected on Empa’s land in Dübendorf which has not only been designed and planned digitally, but is largely being built by means of digital processes, robots and 3D printers,” proposes the press release.
While the press release is celebratory, it’s also cautionary -- noting that other countries, too, are moving forward in the areas of education, research and development. Maintaining its leading position, therefore, will require Switzerland’s ongoing vigilance and commitment, insists the release.