Switzerland: Does location matter for education outcomes?

Parents in cantons such as Zug or Zurich who would like to see their offspring in Gymnasium (academic/highest ability track in secondary school) will be envious of their counterparts in Basel:
Whereas in both cantons the percentage of students accessing Gymnasium is around or under 20%,
in Basel-Stadt the figure in 2018 stands at 45%!

The Basel education department is less impressed. In words of the education department, the high number of students in Gymnasium ’reveals a stark imbalance, which must be corrected’. In fact, in the last 5 years, the number of Gymnasium entrants was a ‘mere’ 35-37 % (still a much higher number than other cantons in German speaking Switzerland!). Under the recent school reforms, the number suddenly jumped up to 45%.

The department aims to have an even split between 30% in academic education, 30% in specialist high schools, including IT and business high schools (Fachmittelschulen and Fachmaturitätsschulen) and 30% in vocational training. In order to achieve this ‘balance’ the education department is planning on tightening access requirements for Gymnasium.

However, even if Basel manages to reduce its quote, location still matters for education outcomes, as the below graph shows. From 32.1 percent in Geneva to 12.6 % in Sant Gallen, the percentage of students accessing the academic track aka gymnasium significantly varies across Switzerland.

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