The school is in a multicultural and multilingual country with a high standard of living, a high educational tradition and a healthy social environment,” enthuses Alexandre Gademann, Director at Institut Monte Rosa, encapsulating many of the attractions of Swiss boarding schools for international students. Established in 1874 on the shores of Lake Geneva, the school welcomes students aged between eight and 19 years. “Living within an international community, students will discover a multitude of different ideas and ethnic views,” Gademann continues.
The flexible academic programme at Monte Rosa includes Anglo-American Junior and High School (grades six to 12), university preparatory programmes, business studies, intensive English, modern language programmes and a range of language exams including Toefl and Cambridge.
Steps away from Lake Geneva and near Lausanne city centre, Collège Champittet “is known for its academic excellence and extensive experience in educating young people”, attests Denise Haramis, Director of Admissions and Marketing. Although steeped in tradition, Haramis points out the school uses the latest technology in the classroom, including iPads and Macbooks. Courses include the Swiss Maturité a general course including 13 exam subjects, the French and the International Baccalaureate (IB) as well as tailor-made bilingual programmes in French and English.
Also capitalising on Switzerland’s multilingualism, Pré Fleuri Ecole Alpine Internationale welcomes children between the ages of three and 13 years for summer and winter camps as well as full academic years. “The benefit of the school,” relates Sylvie Montenero, “is that the children learn English and French.” She explains that children follow both curriculums from kindergarten, and then choose a curriculum with the headmistress that will include both languages every day.
Switzerland is also host to a number of international boarding schools. Dr. Ilya Eigenbrot, Principal at St George’s School, advises, “I believe students and parents are attracted by the fact that we are a truly international school with British traditions such as a uniform and a house system. Our academic record speaks for itself with 95 per cent of students achieving an average of 35.05 in the IB, compared with the global average mark of 29.03. To have all of that along with uninterrupted views of Lake Geneva is not a bad combination.”
Matt Ramagli at St George’s explains the curriculum, where in the junior department and the younger years of the senior school “a broad and balanced timetable is offered based upon the British national curriculum”. The school enters students for the IB, the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education, college board tests, Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music exams and Diplôma d’études en langue française, among others, he adds. Bilingualism is stressed, with French, German, Italian and Chinese offered as second language requirements. Ramagli adds that a permanent university and career guidance counsellor is on hand.
At The American School in Switzerland (Tasis), international students have been welcomed since 1956. The founder was looking to create an international community at the school, enthuses Kristin Pedroja. Describing the school’s location on the Collina d’Oro hills above Lake Lugano, she relates, “Green hills tumble towards the placid lake and snow-capped Alps reach to the sky.”
Tasis emphasises its ethos through recruitment of staff. “Our teachers come from around the world, each bringing distinctive qualities and specialities to our community.” And in terms of courses, “Tasis offers the full IB programme and has served as a pioneering school for the art history programme,” Pedroja adds. There is also an advanced placement programme for American universities and the Tasis Diploma: a liberal arts-focussed curriculum that requires a foreign language component.
Given Switzerland’s environs, outdoor sports are an obvious draw, and facilities are second to none. “A healthy body is as important as a healthy mind,” opines Pedroja. At Pré Fleuri, winter sports such as skiing are built into the curriculum, along with milder-climate offerings such as mountain biking, says Montenero. At St George’s School, Ramagli explains students can choose between a wide range of sports, from skiing to rock climbing, and there is a heated pool and well-equipped gymnastics hall. The Monte Rosa campus is 6,000 square metres, relates Gademann, with new sports facilities located on the lakeshore and the proximity to the Alps facilitating a range of outdoor activities.
Pedroja advises 80 per cent of Tasis students are international, with China in particular an emerging source. China and Asia are noted by Montenero as Pre Fleuri’s growing markets. At St George’s School, there are 48 different nationalities among a student body of 500, says Ramagli. The school is developing the Far East and South America, and he notes that there is strong interest from Japan and India presently.
Agents are very much part of the diverse recruitment strategies detailed by contributors to this article. At St George’s School, Matt Ramagli explains the best advertisement is word-of-mouth recommendations from parents, but adds they do like to hear from agents. Word-of-mouth, targeted recruitment events and agents, meanwhile, form the strategy for The American School in Switzerland (Tasis), advises Kristin Pedroja. Similarly, Collège Champittet utilise recruitment fairs, word-of-mouth, agents, open days, information evenings and participation in local events in order to recruit students, Denise Haramis informs.
Word-of-mouth plays a major role for Institut Monte Rosa, says Alexandre Gademann, adding, “We are also participating in specific recruitment fairs and we are collaborating with selected agents representing our school in determined regions.” As for Pré Fleuri Ecole Alpine Internationale, Sylvie Montenero relates, “We participate in different workshops for education, and we are working with different agents all over the world... We do organise some events where we invite our clients.”