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25.11.2021 | School of Business

From tourism to international competitiveness - 10 years BSwiss Summer School

Since 2011, the two-week Swiss International Business Summer School has been held in Basel at the beginning of August. As in 2020, BSwiss had to be cancelled in 2021 due to Corona. The 10th anniversary will therefore not be celebrated until next August, and registration will open in January 2022.

Jürg Schneider initiated BSwiss, Swiss International Business Summer School, in 2011 and ran it until his retirement three years later. Erich Bürkler, lecturer in economics, then took over the leadership and stuck to the basic idea of offering content that was complementary to the curriculum of the existing degree programmes.  However, he also took the opportunity to set new thematic priorities.

The focus had previously been on tourism, and I changed it to migration, innovation and international competitiveness.

Erich Bürkler, lecturer in economics

These topics were not only of importance to him personally but are still of the greatest importance for the Swiss economy today. Erich Bürkler explains: "Since the immigration of the persecuted Huguenots, Switzerland's competitiveness has benefited from clever immigrants who launched their innovations here and then exported them all over the world.

Two weeks of block teaching in Basel

In 2020 and 2021, Corona made it impossible to hold BSwiss, which normally takes place every year at the beginning of August during the semester break. Two blocks of five teaching days are dedicated to the topics of migration, innovation and international competitiveness, supplemented by an exclusive accompanying programme. For example, there are guided tours of Basel and one of Bern, half-day seminars at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO and at the Patent Office in Bern, two visits to innovative companies in Northwestern Switzerland and a Discover Switzerland programme over the weekend in Central Switzerland.

In class, students work on international competitiveness, countries' comparative advantages and their companies' competitiveness, migration and competitiveness. Switzerland's macroeconomic policy and competitiveness is explained from different perspectives and discussed in mixed groups. The lecturers discuss issues that are currently particularly relevant, including the US elections and "Brexit".

Students from (almost) the entire world

Every year, between 25 and 45 students take part in BSwiss, which is conducted in English, half of the students are Swiss and half are international. Incoming students from partner universities only have to pay their expenses, which is why BSwiss is affordable in such a high-cost country as Switzerland. The FHNW School of Business project leader provides group accommodation in a student hotel close to the school, which has been successful so far and also has had a positive effect on the group dynamics.


Incoming students come from (almost) all over the world: from Canada, Australia, England, Spain, South America, China and the Arab countries. No one has taken part so far from Africa. The BSwiss examination system considers differences in level due to origin in that an initial part of the examination is taken before classes begin, with questions on challenging papers. This counts for 60%, ensures a levelling of performance and creates a common basis in terms of content. Finally, all students write a final essay on one of the core topics, which counts for 40%. 

Intercultural exchange and buddy system

The cultural topics are not only discussed and applied in the classroom during an intercultural workshop, but also making the incoming students more familiar with Switzerland during leisure time at the Summer School. This is ensured by the buddy system: each international student is assigned a Swiss "partner", i. e. a buddy who has the task that they gain an insider view of Switzerland. This is a win-win situation for both sides because part-time students from Switzerland who do not have the opportunity to undertake a semester abroad for several months benefit from an additional offer and an international perspective.

Next BSwiss in August 2022

Switzerland is the ideal place to host a BSwiss Summer School, not only because of its cultural diversity, but also because of its high international competitiveness with its high number of internationally successful companies. When it became clear this year that international students would have a hard time travelling to Switzerland because of Corona, Erich Bürkler and the project manager Alexandra Yankam tried in vain to realise a hybrid implementation: with Swiss students on site and students from other countries connected online. However, since the travel restrictions contradicted the basic idea of BSwiss, namely to get together, go on various excursions and exchange ideas intensively, the cancellation in May also made sense in terms of content. Those who had already registered showed understanding for this.

Preparations are now being made for BSwiss 2022. At the beginning of the year, the directors of the FHNW School of Business and the International Offices of the partner universities will be contacted, and students from all over the world can apply by the end of April. For this next ‘edition’, a current topic will remind us of last year: a case study on the growing national debt in Switzerland due to the Corona virus.

Weitere Informationen

BSwiss Summer School Website