Academic Program

The SWB program is based on a phased approach,  tailored to the needs of scholarship recipients and ultimately leading to the completion of the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree.

Its first component is the academic program, consisting of the SWB bridge program and the regular undergraduate program.

The SWB bridge program helps students in need of language skills and adjustment to Franklin's liberal arts degree model to develop the study, research, and writing skills necessary for university work in English. Furthermore, the SWB bridge program is particularly apt for displaced students, as it allows those who have no documentation of their previous high school or university achievements to demonstrate their competence over the course of a year, while, at the same time, honing their English language skills and embarking on the study of a Swiss national language.

Depending on grades and outcomes of standardized exams at the end of the bridge program (TOEFL, SAT, or ACT), SWB bridge students may then enter the university’s regular Bachelor of Arts program as first-year students, or they may be placed at other stages of the undergraduate program. Once they have entered the regular undergraduate program. students may pursue one of 19 different major programs of study, spanning a wide range of disciplines.

Support Program

The second component of Scholarships Without Borders is the Support Program: all SWB students are supported academically and personally through a close network of faculty advisors, peer mentors, and professional staff, who help them with their academic studies and ensure their physical and mental wellbeing.

SWB students benefit from support in five key areas:

  1. Peer mentoring
    Upon their arrival, SWB students are assigned a more experienced student with similar academic interests as a peer mentor. Mentors assist new students in understanding the extracurricular and academic offerings at FUS, provide tutoring, and serve as a liaison with the directorship of the SWB program, the FUS administration, and the Office of Student Life.

  2. Support for Student Life
    We understand that many of the students who come to us may have suffered trauma, meaning that psychological and/or medical support may be required to allow them to master the transition to a productive and peaceful university campus. Therefore, the SWB program, in collaboration with the Canton of Ticino, facilitates access to psychological and medical therapies and treatments for those who need it. .

  3. Assessment
    Internal assessment of the SWB program is conducted by the directors of the program, in collaboration with the university’s Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Committee and the academic advisors of SWB students. The committee meets once a semester to discuss the students’ progress in the program and to take note of any academic or personal problems they might be experiencing. The findings of the committee, together with grade and exam outcomes, also flows into the program assessment, which takes place annually at FUS.

  4. Leadership and Human Rights Training
    All SWB students have the opportunity to attend a summer school on Human Rights and Leadership every other year. The first of these will take place in the summer of 2017 and will be open to students with refugee backgrounds across Europe. The summer school initiative is designed to foster networks and leadership training from a number of disciplinary perspectives, including international relations, management and entrepreneurship, human rights, history, and environmental studies.

  5. Knowledge Transfer
    The SWB initiative includes a workshop held every other year, inviting representatives of organizations and institutions involved in education as a humanitarian response to the refugee crisis. The goal of this workshop is to discuss and share knowledge about best practices in providing support to displaced students. It also aims to forge collaborations and pool resources in joint endeavors.

How to Apply

Please note that the program is competitive and that only a few scholarships can be granted every year.

The admission process is phased: we first carefully read each application, and then invite to continue their application only the candidates who are eligible, well-prepared and highly motivated to embark on studies at FUS. At that point SWB prospective students will have a chance to visit FUS for an interview and to take an English language placement test. During this visit, candidates also have the opportunity to get to know the FUS campus and to speak to other SWB students. Depending on academic qualifications, recipients are admitted to the SWB bridge program, or directly to Franklin’s Bachelor of Arts program. All recipients are provided with a full tuition scholarship and with academic and personal support from FUS.

Please note that student refugees with a B permit residing in a Canton other than Ticino who wish to apply for a residency change or cantonal financial assistance must obtain prior permission from the Canton Ticino authorities before changing cantons. Those with an F permit living in a Canton other than Ticino must obtain permission for a cantonal change from the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). 

Please note that student refugees with a B permit residing in a Canton other than Ticino who wish to apply for a residency change or cantonal financial assistance must obtain prior permission from the relevant Canton Ticino authorities before changing cantons.

Those with an F permit living in a Canton other than Ticino must obtain permission for a cantonal change from the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

In both cases these permissions must be in place before embarking on the program at FUS.

Please note that a change of Canton for those who need financial assistance is not automatic and depends on the evaluation by the Canton Ticino authorities, who have the last word in the matter.

If you are a prospective candidate for the SWB program or know someone who is eligible and may be interested, download the SWB Pre-Application Form (Word, 254KB) and return it by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fax it to +41 91 993 39 06.