Student mobility: introduction
- Academic mobility
This page contains information for organizing study abroad periods, such as the procedures to follow before leaving (admission criteria, application, financial aspects, study plans), what to do when arriving at the destination university, and final provisions when returning to USI (questionnaire, stay-abroad report, validation of credits).
To date (January 2021), it is assumed that the exchange programmes will regularly take place in the academic year 2021-2022. However, this mainly depends on the further development of the pandemic and the related decisions of governments and partner universities, which will be communicated to the candidates for mobility as soon as they are known.
The preparation for a period of study abroad requires considerable time and effort on your part. There are no ready-made exchanges available in any of our partner university. When you organize a semester abroad, it is important to examine all possibilities and to begin planning it early, preferably a year before your date of departure. Consider the period of preparation as an important part of your studies and use it to develop your organizational skills. To get the best out of an exchange semester you should ask yourself where you would like to study, during which semester, which courses you must take, if you can finance your trip and stay abroad and if your language proficiency is sufficient for studying in the host country. Students have the following sources of information to get acquainted with the mobility programmes and the procedures:
Each year, the International Relations and Study Abroad Service organizes an information session for USI students interested in undertaking a study abroad experience. The purpose of the session is to provide useful information to organize a mobility: the presentation of the different types of exchange programs, of the partner universities, enrollment procedures, admission requirements, financial aspects and much more. In compliance with the current provisions on the Covid-19 pandemic, this year the information session was recorded.
Link to the information session: https://youtu.be/nJfRk1e8E24
Link to presentation: Information session presentation
The USI annual international fair is held every November at the beginning of a new semester. Students interested in spending part of their studies abroad have the chance to learn about USI diverse international exchange programme managed by the International Relations service. The fair highlights the benefits of participating in an exchange programme and gives students the opportunity to learn more about the exchange possibilities offered at USI. Due to COVID, this year edition is cancelled.
Written by former USI students who spent a period of study in a different university. Reports may be accessed on our website with your USI credentials.
Study Abroad Guide
The official publication of the International Relations and Study Abroad Service, with detailed information on how to organize a study period abroad. You can download it here.
5 reasons for a study abroad experience
A short video on why we believe a study experience abroad will further enrich your study curriculum and help you grow as a person.
In light of the recent Covid-19 provisions, the International Relations and Study Abroad Service will offer individual virtual meetings in zoom or Microsoft Teams. Please get in touch with us to fix your appointment. We will be happy to assist you in the organization of your study abroad experience.
To participate in a mobility programme you must:
For specific admission criteria of each USI faculty, please carefully read page 14 of the Study Abroad Guide.
It is the students’ responsibility to verify if a specific language certificate is necessary. USI’s International Relations and Study Abroad Service in Lugano asks for language certificates because most partner universities demand evidence of language proficiency, and it is one of the criteria of the internal selection. Language certificates are for the students’ own good: students with an insufficient knowledge of the language of instruction face greater difficulties during their stay abroad. It is up to the student to register in time for the official language exam. Please note that it may take
up to two months to receive the original certificate. Test results must be available by the deadline of the internal application. No exceptions will be made. For specific language requisites please consult page 25 of the Study Abroad Guide.
The Academy of Architecture’s International Service asks for a language certificate if the partner university demands proof of it.
USI enrolment and financial aspects
You must maintain your enrolment status at USI during the exchange term. If you undertake a mobility semester recognized as part of the criteria for obtaining a degree (Bachelor or Master) you are granted a 50% reduction in the USI semester tuition fee. All of the USI exchange agreements are based on a bilateral agreement to waive payment of tuition for nominated students by the partner university. You are however responsible for all other costs related to your semester abroad. Bear in mind that even though you have been selected for a tuition-free exchange, there may be other fees you might have to pay at the host university: administration fees, activity fees, library fee etc.
SEMP Studies Scholarship
The SEMP programme entitles you to receive a bursary if the following conditions are met:
The monthly amount of the grant likely to be similar to the one paid in the framework of the Erasmus+ programme. Scholarships do not provide total coverage of the expenses but they nonetheless contribute towards travel expenses and part of the living costs. The amount and the eligibility for the SEMP scholarship depend on the provisions issued by the Swiss National Agency Movetia. Students will be informed as soon as the information is available.
The Heyning-Roelli Foundation provides scholarships to talented but financially underprivileged students for travel and subsistence expenses. Beneficiaries of the scholarships can be Bachelor- and Master students who wish to participate in an exchange programme for one or two semesters at a partner university. Exchange programmes include the Swiss-European Mobility Programme (SEMP, formerly Erasmus) as well as other programmes according to bilateral agreements between Swiss universities and foreign universities. In these programmes students stay enrolled at their home university and continue their studies there after the end of their stay abroad.
Application procedure Lugano Campus
The student must submit the following documents
Application procedure Mendrisio Campus
Apply online at this link: https://form.arc.usi.ch/form/view.php?id=17127
Learning Agreements by Faculty
The list of persons responsible for the approval of your study plan is available at page 21 of the Study Abroad Guide.
Students are selected through a process conducted by the International Relations Office. The selection process takes place once a year in March for both Autumn and Spring semesters. It is however still possible for the students of the Lugano campus to apply by the 25th of September for Spring semesters without any guarantee that there will still be available openings.
Internal application deadlines
10 February 2021 for the following Academic Year
21 February 2021 for the following Autumn Semester
24 September 2021 for the following Spring Semester
All selected students will be officially introduced to the partner university by the International Relations and Study Abroad Service staff. From this point onwards, it is up to each student to organise the departure at best, deal with any further administrative requirements and meet all deadlines of the host university regarding university enrolment, courses registration, health insurance and accommodation.
In the table, Permit, visa and health insurance procedures for USI outgoing students, you will find relevant information concerning the bureaucratic procedures you will be asked to complete in order to do an exchange at another university.
Please note that the information refers to current regulations and procedures established by the competent authorities at cantonal and national level and may therefore be subject to change.
Checklist of things to do before leaving
Once you have obtained all information from the host university (beginning of semester, accommodation, welcome activities, etc), the student can start planning the departure.
Before leaving Switzerland, you need the following:
If you visit a country outside the European community for study purposes, you must also:
You are advised to be properly informed about the legislation in force in the country you have chosen. To do so, you may refer to the International Office of the host university.
Orientation programme at the host university
Most universities organise mandatory orientation programmes for guest students prior to the beginning of the Semester. Nominated exchange students are expected to arrive at the host university on time for orientation and the start of the courses. For some destinations the arrival date is set for July or August. In this case, registration for the retake session in September at USI is not possible.
Upon arrival, you should report to the International Office of the host university as soon as possible. To guarantee continuity of communication with USI you are asked to send your contact information (telephone and address) to email@example.com for the Faculties of Lugano and to firstname.lastname@example.org for the Academy of Architecture.
Changes in study plan
In case of changes of the study plan, remember to immediately ask for a new approval by writing an e-mail to the director of studies at USI, the Study Commission or the appropriate Master's programme director at USI, no later than four weeks after the start of the semester abroad. A copy of the updated study plan (signed by USI and by the host university) should be sent to the International Relations Service.
At the end of their stay, USI students are required to prepare the following documents, to be submitted at the International Relations and Study Abroad Service upon return:
1. End of study report
Within three weeks from the end of the exchange period, write an "End of study report" on their experience abroad, following specific guidelines.
2. Exchange survey
Students must also fill in the online Exchange survey (sent by the International Relations Service) no later than three weeks after the end of the semester abroad.
3. Study plan (learning agreement)
Upon return the student must submit the original copy of the study plan, signed by both the home and the host universities.
The procedure for issuing and forwarding examination results and credits relating to exchange students varies from university to university.
Normally, the International Relations Office of the host institution sends the official transcript of results to the student's home address and/or to the International Relations and Study Abroad Service. Bear in mind that the process may take few weeks to complete.
It is up to the student to check and make sure that the necessary official transcripts are duly delivered to USI. It is the Tutor for examinations' responsibility to register the corresponding credits, and notify the student.
Credits cannot be earned just by simply attending a semester or two abroad or in Switzerland, in a university other than USI. The value of a study semester away from the home institution is measured or quantified by formal course evaluation (grades) and related credits which the candidate earns on the basis of passing examinations or evaluation of the written work turned in (e.g. dissertation, term paper).
For special provisions on the credit recognition of exams please refer to pages 29-31 of the Study Abroad Guide.
Please refer to the following sheet for the conversion of credits outside the ECTS system.