The federalism that characterises Switzerland is reflected in the country's education system. In fact, the cantons and municipalities are responsible for the management of primary and secondary schools, whereas universities and vocational colleges are run by the Confederation and the cantons.
The Swiss education system is divided into three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary and secondary schools deliver nine years of compulsory education. Level II secondary schools allow students to continue their studies once they have completed their compulsory schooling. More than 50 % of pupils then choose one of the types of professional training provided, which lasts up to four years.
The tertiary level corresponds to university studies and to higher vocational schools. In Switzerland, universities deliver more general education and the higher vocational schools provide specialised training. Higher vocational training is provided in technical institutes that award vocational training certificates and vocational diplomas.
Foreign-language speaking children often have to deal with an additional difficulty at school, as the language used in the classroom is not their mother tongue. Schools offer additional tuition in the language of instruction, depending on a student's prior knowledge of the language.