Expat Essentials

Expat Essentials: Dispatches’ guide to international schools in Geneva, Switzerland (updated)

(Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current enrollment numbers for Geneva English School.)

One of the bigger challenges for English-speaking expat families – even for well-paid corporate nomads – is finding a satisfactory, English-language international school, especially in large international centers such as Geneva, which we’re looking at today.

Such schools cater to expat students, with curricula tied to the host nation in question, or an international education organization such as Edexcel, Cambridge International Examinations, and International Baccalaureate; if you’re curious about the International Baccalaureate program, by the by, Dispatches Europe has a primer for your convenience.

49f5afce96e7de0064d7e728a7763981Wherever you’re headed, do not wait to get there before starting the application process with your preferred international school, which can be lengthy. Also, bear in mind this is one of the wealthiest cities in the world, home to financiers, Formula One drivers and movie stars.

International school tuitions and fees here certainly reflect that.

Geneva is the second most populous city of all Switzerland – around 1.25 million in the city and surrounding canton – and is the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva. The city is the epicenter of global diplomacy, hosting organizations such as the United Nations and Red Cross, as well as treaty signings like the Geneva Conventions.

Geneva was first the homestead of a Gallic tribe called Allobroges before taken by the Romans in 121 BCE. The city stayed under Roman control until it joined the Old Swiss Confederacy in early 1526 CE. Catholcism gave way to Calvinism and the Protestant Reformation soon after, then was annexed by revolutionary France in 1798, and finally joined what would become the modern Swiss Confederation in 1814.

Multinationals in Geneva include Vitol, Merck Serono, Caterpillar, Electronic Arts and Oracle. And if you’re a watch collector, Geneva has many watchmakers such as Omega, Gallet, and of course, Rolex.

Finally, the city has frequently appeared in popular culture, from Dan Brown’s “Angels & Demons” and “The Da Vinci Code,” to its role as the Earth Alliance Capital in “Babylon 5.”

international-school-of-genevaInternational School of Geneva: International School of Geneva is not just any old international school … it is the first of its kind.

ISG was founded in 1924 by civil servants from the International Labor Organization and the League of Nations. It is also the birthplace of the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme. More than 4,000 students from 140 nations attend ISG, enrolled in a bilingual “bespoke curriculum.”

That curriculum is meant to provide “a distinctive, high-quality international education” as each student prepares “for membership of communities that are socially and culturally diverse, for citizenship, and for engagement with the political, ethical and environmental challenges of their times.”

Diploma programmes include the aforementioned IB Diploma, Swiss Maturité, American High School diploma, and the French Baccalaureate.

  • Famous Alumns: American actor Michael Douglas; French actor Christopher Lambert; American singer-songwriter Lori Lieberman (known for the first-ever recording of “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” since made famous by Roberta Flack and Fugees); former Prime Minister of India Indira Ghandi; and Desert Storm commander U.S. Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf
  • Fees (2016-17 academic year): CHF 250 application fee; CHF 2,500 registration fee for new students and those returning after an absence of two-years-plus; CHF 4,000 capital development fee; CHF 19,770 – CHF 33,916 annual tuition, depending on grade level; CHF 1,000 advance payment on re-enrollment tuition fee
  • Requirements: Complete and submit online application with all required fees and documentation
  • Application Deadline: Rolling deadline; new students can join current academic year up to 1 May
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • Website: www.ecolint.ch

ges_logo_sq-copieGeneva English School: Flying the Union Jack under the Swiss national flag, Geneva English School was born in a room of a church hall in 1961, where a handful of students between 5 and 7 were the first to attend the future international school.

Today, more than 280 students between 3 and 12 years of age attend GES at its current 19th century estate home in the suburb of Genthod, learning from the English National Curriculum augmented with a strong focus on French. GES’ mission is to “provide an outstanding British-based primary and secondary education, in an international community where boys and girls learn, achieve and grow together in an inspiring, purposeful, happy and enriching environment.”

  • Fees (2016-17 academic year): CHF 1,500 non-refundable registration fee; CHF 4,000 non-refundable capital development fee; CHF 3,000 tuition deposit; CHF 8,600 – CHF 27,990 annual tuition fee, depending on grade level
  • Requirements: Complete and submit application form with required fees and documentation
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact for information
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • Website: www.geneva-english-school.ch
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Lifestyle journalist. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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