This page contains useful information for organising your Bachelor or Master studies, including all required administrative procedures and how to go about your first days on campus. The main information is availble also in the Student Guide.
For further assistance, you can also write to the Study Advisory team.
Foreign students are required to hold residence permit (see A) and register with the local authorities (see B).
A) Residence permit for foreign students
All foreign students who intend to reside in Switzerland for study purposes ('student status') must apply for a relevant residence permit.
Please note that the residence permit for study purposes does not grant students automatic entitlement to paid employment. Therefore, foreign students enroled in an academic degree programme at a university in Switzerland are required to obtain a specific authorisation from the competent authorities before they engage in paid employment. The maximum permitted work load is 15 hours per week. No authorization will not be issued in the first 6 months of a student's stay.
Students living in Italy in the border area (20km radius) and who return home on a daily basis are no longer required to hold a permit for cross-border residents.
Foreign students holding a B permit must provide for its duly update every year. Foreign students who are domiciled in another Swiss canton (not in Ticino) must apply for an expatriation permit from the canton and then register with the relevant local authority in Ticino, thus changing the canton of residence.
Form 1046: www4.ti.ch/fileadmin/DI/Formulari/SEZPOP/1046.pdf
EU / EEA EFTA students can enter Switzerland without a visa. They must however apply for a residence permit for study purposes immediately after their arrival in Switzerland. Requests must be submitted to the Regional Office of Foreigners in the city where the student wishes to live. The student must be physically present or represented by someone who has the proxy to fill in the application for a residence permit.
Required documents: passport or identity card, two passport-size photographs, admission statement issued by the Secretariat of the USI Faculty confirming enrolment, a document certifying sufficient financial resources to cover all expenses during the studies, a lease contract for accommodation, a certificate of judicial record (issued no later than 3 months) issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin of the applicant (the document must be translated into Italian : USI does not offer any translation service, students must therefore apply for external translation services).
The residence permit remains valid for the whole period of study. At the end of this period, students are required to leave the country. Relatives and friends are welcome to Switzerland under the terms and conditions valid for tourists. The student can also live in Switzerland during the permit release period and is required to confirm enrolment at USI every year.
Form 1046: www4.ti.ch/fileadmin/DI/Formulari/SEZPOP/1046.pdf
Servizio regionale degli stranieri
Via Serafino Balestra 31-33
tel +41 91 815 54 81
Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 9 – 11.45am, 2pm– 4pm
Servizio regionale degli stranieri
Via Pollini 29
tel +41 91 816 45 01
Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 9 – 11.45am, and 2pm – 4pm
Students who need a visa to enter Switzerland shall apply for authorization to the appropriate Swiss consular service ('Application for permission of entry into Switzerland' form).
Applicants may enter Switzerland only once their application has been processed. Please be aware that a tourist visa is valid for only 3 months and cannot be converted into a student permit after arrival in Switzerland. Furthermore, the Visa request is the student’s responsibility and usually takes between one and four months time.
B) Registration with the residents’ registration office
Students also must register with the local authorities (Residents’ registration office).
Via della Posta
tel +41 58 866 60 00
fax +41 58 866 60 09
Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 7:30am - 12:00pm, and 1:30pm - 5pm
Tuesday and Thursday: 7:30am - 6pm
Municipio (City Hall)
Via Municipio 13
tel +41 91 640 31 31
Opening hours : Monday-Friday: 10am – 12pm, and 2pm – 4pm
USI unfortunately does not have sufficient on-campus housing to accommodate all students, who should therefore provide for themselves. In case, the USI Accommodation Service can assist you.
Further information on housing is available on the InfoDesk, the portal with all practicalities for the USI community:
Cost of living
Living costs in Lugano or Mendrisio are, on average, between CHF 1,500 - 2,300 per month.
In general, the monthly student's budget should consider the following items:
Practical information on daily life
To call Ticino from abroad, you must dial 0041 91 (land lines) and then the phone number.
In Switzerland there are several mobile phone operators. Information on rates, subscriptions and prepaid cards may be obtained from the specialist shops throughout Ticino and at post offices. Generally, prepaid cards and contracts can be used with all standard GSM mobile phones on 900/1800 Mhz.
The main supermarkets are open Mondays to Fridays from 8.30am to 7pm, Thursdays from 8.30am to 9pm, and Saturdays from 8.30am to 5pm (in the summer until 6pm). Smaller shops usually stay open until 6.30pm (also on Thursdays) and close on Saturdays 5pm. In Mendrisio, the "Foxtown" is open every day, 7 days a week, 11.00am to 7pm.
To open a personal bank account in Switzerland, students are required to present a valid passport or identity card and a certificate of enrolment issued by USI. Certain banks may ask for additional documents. It is advisable to open a student account, which generally offers a series of advantages.
Banks are open Mondays to Fridays from 09am to 4.30pm.
Post offices now provide a variety of products and facilities: stamps, stationery, money transfers from abroad (international money orders are handled only by the main post offices) and other products. In addition, the Post Office offers the “PostFinance account” as an alternative to a bank account. To open an account at the Post Office, students are required to provide an identity document (passport or ID), a residence permit and a certificate of enrolment issued by USI.
For more information: www.postfinance.ch
Students can purchase a “Swiss Half-Price Card” from a Swiss Railway ticket office (www.sbb.ch/en) that entitles them to a 50% reduction on all train fares in Switzerland. Swiss Rail also offers season tickets at special rates for commuters, i.e. people who live just across the border in Italy and travel to Switzerland every day. Other train passes are available that entitle the holder to travel for free after 7pm (www.binario7.ch).
The buses guarantee efficient mobility in the city of Lugano and the surrounding towns. Other towns and cities in the surrounding regions can be reached with the yellow coaches (Autopostale) or by the Lugano public transportation network (Autolinee Regionali Luganesi). Further information on Lugano’s public transportation (TPL) is available at this page (in Italian).
In Mendrisio, city bus nr.1, as well as a yellow 'Autopostale' coach, provide regular connections between the Academy and the cities of Chiasso and Como.
Information on bus passes is available on the website www.arcobaleno.ch
In Switzerland, you must be at least 18 years old to obtain a drivers licence. A foreign driving licence is valid in Switzerland for one year. If the stay is longer than 12 months, then a Swiss driving licence will be required. During the first 12 months, an automatic exchange for a Swiss driving licence can be requested from the vehicle registration office in Camorino. If the Swiss driving licence is not requested within 12 months, the person has to retake the driving licence exam in Switzerland.
For more information: www.ti.ch/circolazione (in Italian)
Bicycles at reasonable prices can be purchased from: Soccorso Operaio Svizzero SOS, Atelier RI-cicletta, Via Zurigo 17, CH-6900 Lugano. USI offers, through the student ID card, an annual free subscription "regiopass" for the bike sharing service.
USI's students can benefit from the discounts and special rates listed at this page.
Documents and accounts
If you have questions concerning practical issues such as housing, health insurance, residence permit, and so on, you can also attend the Welcome Meetings organised by the Study Advisory Service, which represent an opportunity to meet your future classmates, staff members of the various USI service units, and more.
The meetings are held on the Lugano Campus. Free admittance and no registration is required.
On the first day of each new academic year, two welcome events are organised for all newly-enroled students to share information about the university and academic life. The first one, in Italian, takes place during the morning of the first Monday of the semester, and is addressed to students attending study programs taught in Italian (mainly first-year Bachelors). The second one, in English, is addressed to students attending study programs taught in English (mainly first-year Masters), and takes place in the late afternoon of the same day.
USI offers language courses in Italian, French, German and English before the beginning of the academic year and throughout the semesters.
Another point of access for this information is the navigation page for students, which contains a series of useful links to the InfoDesk, divided by subject.
With the "SPORT elite" programme the Università della Svizzera italiana offers to elite athletes the chance to get involved in one of USI’s academic programmes (Bachelor or Master) and organise their schedule in a flexible manner, to ideally combine three main goals:
In particular the programme allows to:
The initiative to establish a flexible programme for elite athletes, follows the approval of the Federal Assembly last 17 June, according to federal law on promotion of sports and physical activities art 1 and 16 with the objective of “promoting all offers that allow athletes to combine sports and education”.
The “SPORT elite” programme was launched during the academic year 2013-2014, and it will be coordinated by USI’s Sports Service in the person of Giorgio Piffaretti. Thanks to its peculiar structure, the programme aims at finding solutions to the many challenges in combining professional sports careers and academics, while keeping a careful eye on academic quality.
Criteria and Admission Procedures
"SPORT elite" is reserved to all students/athletes with a national and international athletic resume. It is crucial to preserve the indisputable quality level of the members of the programme (high merit requirements and high commitment), and to have the possibility to keep an eye on the number of eligible students. Admission to the programme might be suspended or cancelled if serious violations are committed while requesting preferential treatment or if proper admission criteria cease to exist.
Criteria are as follows:
Steps for admission procedures:
The "SPORT elite" programme, or the opportunity to arrange the academic schedule according to the athlete's engagements, revolves around the following key figures:
Is the person in charge of USI's Sport Service, Giorgio Piffaretti whose role is to:
Faculty's Sport Advisor
Each Faculty has a designated "Faculty's Sport Advisor"
The role of the Advisor is to: