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Vice-Rectorate Quality
With its two-year pilot project Compass UniBE, the University of Bern aims to give student refugees access to the University.
Prof. Dr. Silvia Schroer

“With Compass UniBE, the University of Bern is closing an important gap in enabling access to higher education for student refugees.”

Executive Board

Openness in all areas

With its two-year pilot project Compass UniBE, the University of Bern aims to give student refugees access to the University. The University of Bern is also setting the tone in the field of equal opportunities and on the path toward climate neutrality.


By Prof. Dr. Silvia Schroer, Vice-Rector for Quality

Allowing access to student refugees

For people wanting to start or continue their studies as refugees, Swiss higher education is a difficult path to negotiate. Various structural and institutional hurdles – particularly the strict requirements connected to language skills and previous education, becoming familiar with a new academic system, and the issue of how tertiary level education is financed – mean that the number of qualified refugees being admitted to universities remains low.

As a university that recognizes diversity as a strength, strives toward equal opportunities and sees these as an important part of achieving excellence in teaching and research, the University of Bern decided to make a contribution toward eliminating existing obstacles to admission with a preparatory course for student refugees in spring 2022.

With the fund for student refugees, which was also set up in spring 2022, it is also possible to support refugees wanting to continue their academic careers at the University of Bern financially.

Two-year pilot project

The project “Compass UniBE – University Preparation for Refugee Students” has been in development since August 2022. From the fall semester 2023, 20 participants in each of the two pilot years can prepare linguistically, professionally and organizationally for admission to a course of study at the University of Bern.

Compass UniBE offers participants the possibility of gaining and verifying the skills required to then apply for admission to study at the University of Bern. In parallel to the preparatory year for Ukrainian students implemented by the Vice-Rectorate Development, the successful completion of a preparatory year should replace certain admission requirements.

Since December 2022, all information on the project and the application process can be found here

The implementation of the project requires close collaboration with a variety of project partners. The language center, legal department, admissions department, faculties and student union at the University all make important contributions to the success of the project. In order to reach the relevant target groups and utilize synergies, links have been established with regional asylum organizations and counseling services, and to BIZ Bern, BFH and PHBern.

In 2022, the willingness to help shown by University members and their solidarity with Ukrainian students and academics, plus the interest shown by other higher education institutions and integration specialists, clearly demonstrate that the University of Bern is closing an important gap in enabling access to higher education for student refugees. Regular inquiries by student refugees are currently a clear indication of the importance of an established structure for admitting qualified refugees to higher education institutions.

Equal opportunities

The Office for Equality at the University has been renamed as the Office for Equal Opportunities. The new name reflects the range of topics included in the “Action Plan: Equal Opportunities 2021–24”. In addition to equality, the diversity categories of disability, chronic disease and mental health, ethnic and social origin, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation and age are also addressed here. The website is now available in three languages. In the fall semester, the series of lectures “Diversity Research at the University of Bern” gave an insight into the projects carried out by researchers from a range of disciplines.

Sustainability in action

The University of Bern has published its first greenhouse gas report for the year 2019. Additionally, two further key elements for achieving climate neutrality have also been established – the business trip guidelines and the travel platform ( The business trip guidelines show where air travel is permitted and which destinations have to be reached by train. Meanwhile, the travel platform makes booking business trips easier with the introduction of a traffic light system and by entering data to calculate the generated emissions.

Quality assurance and development

As part of the concept for planning and examining the implementation of the Strategy 2030, the newly launched operational discussions with selected faculties took place for the first time in the fall of 2022. These take place before the strategic discussions and focus on checking the implementation of measures defined in the action plans. The specialist office for course evaluations was moved from the Vice-Rectorate Teaching to the Vice-Rectorate Quality on January 1, 2022. Additionally, the questionnaires for the intermediate evaluation, final evaluation and the performance check evaluation were revised in cooperation with the faculties. These will be used from the spring semester 2023 onwards. The surveys carried out as part of the evaluations have been entirely paper-free since 2022.