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Over 7,000 young researchers, students and artists from five different continents have been awarded an exchange scholarship since the FCS was created in July 1961. Half of these exchange scholarships have been awarded to recipients from developing countries and the other half to recipients from industrialised countries. Exchange scholarships with industrialised countries are based on the principle of reciprocity whereby Swiss researchers and students may also qualify for exchange scholarships in other industrialised countries. Exchange scholarships are viewed in a very positive light by researchers, students and professors of higher education institutions. They strengthen cooperation between universities and serve as an important instrument of dialogue.
Exchange scholarships also enable Switzerland to position itself in the world and raise its profile as a world-class scientific country. Exchanges are mutually beneficial since they allow research to be addressed from a global perspective and networks to be expanded to a wide range of different countries. As stated by the head of the State Secretariat for Education and Research, Mauro Dell'Ambrogio: "One cannot stress enough how important it is for a country such as Switzerland to open up to the world. By maintaining the openness of its education and research system and by developing international research activities, Switzerland helps to ensure that science is both global and mutually beneficial: indeed, scholarship recipients returning to their home countries often go on to become professors or decision-makers, and hence become the best ambassadors of our country and our system of higher education and research."
The procedure and functioning of the FCS have remained practically unchanged since the exchange scholarship programme was created back in the 1960s. In order to mark this anniversary and face the challenges posed by the internationalisation of education and research, the FCS has decided to extend its exchange scholarships to all countries that maintain diplomatic relations with Switzerland. Henceforth, scholarships will be available to individuals wishing to do research internships, doctoral or postdoctoral research.
State Secretary Mauro Dell'Ambrogio decided to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the FCS at a ceremony held in Bern on 2 December 2011. Attending this ceremony were ambassadors, representatives of Swiss higher education institutions as well as the main promoters of education, training and research.