Organising your studies
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.
For further assistance, you can also write to the Study Advisory team.
USI campuses and how to reach them
Foreign students wishing to stay in Switzerland during their study period must apply for a residence permit for educational purposes. You must submit the application within 14 days of your arrival in Switzerland on the link below.
All foreign students and Swiss students domiciled in Municipalities other than those where they are staying for study purposes must register with the Office for the Control of Residents of the municipality in which they reside.
Foreign students residing in the frontier zone who return home daily do not need to apply for permission.
A) Application procedure for EU/EFTA students
(click on Richiesta nuovo permesso, cittadini UE/AELS, avvio).
Once completed, the student must print all the documents (NB, not front and back but on a single side), sign them and attach:
- 2 identical photographs (3.5x4.5 cm), taken not more than 6 months before (indicating on the back given name, surname and date of birth)
- Copy of ID (ID card or passport)
- “Notification of Arrival” form
- Certificate of enrolment issued by the University or confirmation of admission
- Declaration by the University indicating the total duration and nature of the studies* (issued by the University on enrolment)
- Copy of Lease of accommodation
- General Certificate of criminal record
All documents must be written and/or translated into Italian.
*The student must declare that he/she has suitable accommodation and sufficient means to attend courses, pay premiums and contributions to the costs of compulsory health insurance (KVG) and for his/her own needs. He/she must also undertake to leave Switzerland at the end of his/her studies.
Once the application has been submitted, the student is authorised to reside in Switzerland pending the decision.
A foreign student residing in another canton must receive permission from the canton of residence or submit an application for change of canton in Ticino.
The student will be summoned to the Lugano Migration Office (New Arrivals Service, Via Balestra 33) to check his/her documents before being issued with a residence permit for educational purposes.
Any change of address, of nationality, of surname or given name, of transfer to another municipality or canton, any and all changes in marital status or family composition (namely marriage, birth, adoption, divorce, family reunification), and definitive departure from Switzerland or another canton must be notified to the Migration Office within 14 days. This notification does not exclude the obligation to notify other authorities.
The residence permit for study purposes does not grant students automatic entitlement to paid employment. Therefore, foreign students enrolled 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 (no authorization will be granted to Croatian students in the first 6 months from the issuance of the permit). The maximum permitted workload is 15 hours per week.
To proceed with the notification students must follow the online procedure: https://www4.ti.ch/di/home-sp/servizi-online/permessi-per-stranieri/dimora-b/ (click on Notifica inizio attività studenti).
Note: foreign students resident in countries that do not share a common border with Switzerland, must take out Swiss health insurance to work.
Please click here (in Italian only) to read carefully the instructions for foreign citizens holding a residence permit for educational purposes.
B) Application procedure for non-EU/EFTA students
If subject to visa requirements (see link https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home/publiservice/weisungen-kreisschreiben/visa/liste1_staatsangehoerigkeit/leg_visum.html) non-EU/EFTA students must apply for Entry Authorisation (visa) at the Swiss Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence. Entry into Switzerland is only possible after the application is approved.
Note: the procedure for issuing the visa can take between one and four months. A tourist visa for Switzerland cannot be converted into a student visa.
Regardless of the visa, the student must apply for a residence permit.
Within 14 days of entry into Switzerland, non-EU/EFTA students must send the following documents to the Migration Office in Bellinzona:
- signed Entry Authorization
- copy of passport
- copy of visa
- copy of lease of accommodation
- photograph (3.5x4.5 cm)
All documents must be written and/or translated into Italian.
The student must declare that he/she has suitable accommodation and sufficient financial means to attend courses, afford the payment of premiums and contributions to the costs of compulsory health care insurance (KVG) and for his/her own needs. The University issues such declaration after the enrolment.
The University offers the opportunity to take out health insurance (Academic Care) on arrival in Switzerland. The student must also undertake to leave Switzerland after completing his/her studies.
Students will receive a first summons to the Lugano Migration Office (New Entrants Service, Via Balestra 33) to verify documents and a second summons to the Bellinzona Migration Office to register their biometric data.
Pending the issue of a residence permit for educational purposes, students wishing to leave Switzerland must ensure that the entry visa on their passport is still valid (if not, they must request a new one from the Bellinzona Migration Office).
The residence permit for study purposes does not grant students automatic entitlement to paid employment. Therefore, foreign students enrolled 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 workload is 15 hours per week. No authorization will not be issued in the first 6 months from the issuance of the permit.
To proceed with the notification students must follow the online procedure: https://www4.ti.ch/di/home-sp/servizi-online/permessi-per-stranieri/dimora-b/ (click on Notifica inizio attività studenti ).
Please click here (in Italian only) to read carefully the warnings for non-EU foreign citizens holding a residence permit for educational purposes.
C) Procedure for renewing a residence permit for educational purposes
The permit must be renewed each year, at least 14 days before it expires, following the procedure online:
The Migration Office exacts fines that can be heavy in the event of failure to comply with the compulsory procedures or deadlines (for example for the extension of the permit or notification of change of address).
Meetings will be organised to assist students in difficulty to carry out the above procedures.
The procedure is instituted by the Migration Office and may be changed at any time without the USI being informed.
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
Health insurance and Liability insurance
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:
- Accommodation at USI: overview
- Rental listings database
- USI Home
- Casa dell'Accademia
- Aristotle College
- Useful information on Swiss regulations
- Advisory services for tenants
Cost of living and daily life
Cost of living
Living costs in Lugano or Mendrisio are, on average, between CHF 1,300 - 1,900 per month.
In general, the monthly student's budget should consider the following items:
- CHF 450-800 for a shared single room or one-bedroom apartment
- CHF 450 for food and other household expenses
- CHF 50-100 for public transportation
- CHF 50 for books and study materials
- CHF 200 for expenses of various kinds
- CHF 160-280 for Health Insurance, when required
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 Office
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 student discounts
USI's students can benefit from the discounts and special rates listed at this page.
First steps at USI
Documents and accounts
- InfoDesk, portal with practical information for the USI community
- Offices and services
- Welcome Meetings (see below)
- Welcome to freshmen students (see below)
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.
The calendar for the Academic Year 2020/21 will be published in Summer 2020.
Welcome to freshmen students
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.
Monday, September 16th 2019 - Welcome ceremony
All students are invited to attend the event.
Bachelor students (Lugano Campus):
Welcome from USI Rector
Introduction to USI Services
Information area with USI Services’ stands and coffee break
Ad hoc programme for each Bachelor: students will be informed by the Dean’s Office
Master students (Lugano Campus): H. 17.30
Welcome from USI Rector
Aula Magna H. 17.45
Introduction to USI Services
Aula Magna H. 18.15-19.00
Information area with USI Services’ stands and aperitif
Calendar and schedules
USI offers language courses in Italian, French, German and English before the beginning of the academic year and throughout the semesters.
- Italian language courses
- Preparatory, levelling and advanced language courses
- Language certificates (PLIDA, Goethe Institut)
Other study-related infomation
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.