“SPORT elite” Programme

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:

  • succeed in their academic studies
  • achieve high levels in their discipline
  • secure their post-career

In particular the programme allows to:

  • take advantage of a personalised short, medium and long term study plan in order to meet the athlete's training schedule and competitions
  • extend the study plan without consequences;
  • get financial support to take part in international university competitions

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 will be 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:

-for team sports: the student must be a player in the roster of a team competing in national league

-individual disciplines: the student must be registered in the national roster of the Federation (for Swiss athletes: hold the Swiss Olympic Talent Card)

Steps for admission procedures:

  1. The athletes and the affiliated club must contact the Programme Coordinator at the following address, giorgio.piffaretti@usi.ch.
    Deadline: by the end of April
  2. The Coordinator will verify if all requirements to earn the status of Elite Athlete at USI are met.
    Deadline: by mid-May
  3. Preliminary meeting in which the following must attend: Programme Coordinator, the Faculty's Sport Advisor, the Athlete, the Coach or an Executive Member of the affiliated Sport's Club
    Deadline: by the end of May
  4. The Athlete and the affiliated club will be notified about the decision made regarding admission to the programme.
    Deadline: by mid-June
  5. Athlete's enrolment in the chosen Faculty
    Deadline:by mid-August


The "SPORT elite" programme, or the opportunity to arrange the academic schedule according to the athlete's engagements, revolves around the following key figures:

-Programme Coordinator

Is the person in charge of USI's Sport Service, Giorgio Piffaretti whose role is to:

  • verify if all applications meet admission criteria;
  • organise the preliminary meeting between the Faculty's Sport Advisor (see below), the Athlete, the Coach or an Executive Member of the affiliated Sport's Club;
  • decide together with the Faculty's Sport Advisor the beginning of the personalised schedule for all student/athletes who are admitted into the programme;
  • monitor the sport's performance;
  • act as a reference along with the Faculty's Sport Advisor, to help solving all programme-related issues;
  • allocate financial aid for the participation in international university sport events.

-Faculty's Sport Advisor

Each Faculty has a designated "Faculty's Sport Advisor"
The role of the Advisor is to:

  • gather from the Programme Coordinator all application for enrolment in the student/athletes programme;
  • take part in the preliminary meeting with the Programme Coordinator, the Athlete, The Coach or an Executive Member of the affiliated Club;
  • decide with the Programme Coordinator the beginning of the personalised schedule for all student/athletes who are admitted into the programme
  • monitor academic performance;
  • act as reference with the Programme Coordinator to help solving all programme-related issues.