What is the … « Matu » ?!!

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If you’ve been around La Chât long enough, you’ve probably heard teachers, students or parents refer to the « Matu programme ».

Maybe you were not curious enough to ask what ‘Matu’ meant; or maybe you did, but didn’t manage to obtain a satisfactory answer; or maybe you just thought “That must be a Swiss thing..!” Well, hopefully I can provide you with a few answers to your questions!

‘Matu’ is the abbreviation for the Maturité Fédérale, which corresponds to the Swiss high school diploma. (Local Swiss schools deliver a different high school diploma called the Maturité Cantonale.)

What is the value-added of the Maturité Fédérale ? In other words, why do some students choose it, instead of the IB?

The Matu is a thorough 4-year program with 10 core subjects Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths (standard or advanced level), History, Geography, Visual Arts or Music, French (advanced level), English (standard or advanced level) and German or Italian (standard or advanced level). The fact that all students cover all 10 subjects means that here are no complicated choices to be made at the end of year 9!

Students later need to choose an additional specific option (advanced level) between Economics & Law, Biochemistry or Visual Arts. Finally, in year 13, a complementary option must be chosen between the following subjects: Maths, Geography, History, Biology and Physics, or Philosophy for students choosing the bilingual option (see below) Finally, as in the IB program, students are asked to write a 4.000 word extended essay that will count as an exam grade. 

Exams are split over two years, so students sit for exams at the end of Y12 and at the end of Y13. These exams are mainly in written form at the end of year 12, but at the end of year 13, they have oral exams too. Finally, students may choice to take a bilingual ‘Matu’, meaning that Geography and History can be taken in English. If the bilingual route is chosen the complementary option must be Philosophy, also in English.

It is certainly a very demanding diploma, but the small size of classes at La Chât allows the students to take full advantage of their teachers’ competences and time.

Moreover, the programme being over 4 years, a very special bond is formed between the students.

Students taking this route enjoy a very broad knowledge in all school subjects, which prepares them for any path they wish to choose in their adult life. They become knowledgeable adults in a broad variety of subjects.

But the Matu’s main value-added is the unconditional access it grants to all Swiss universities and polytechnic institutes. The high level of education offered in the Matu programme, and the rigorous work habits developed over the four-year course, generally lead to the students also successfully completing their Swiss university diploma. 

Moreover, Swiss universities belong to Europe’s most prestigious higher education systems. To name but a few, the ETH in Zurich and EPFL in Lausanne are placed among the world’s top 30 institutions. Switzerland is also home to the University of St Gallen, considered to be one of the world’s leading business schools and the Hospitality and Leisure Management School in Lausanne(EHL) is ranked number one in the world. Last but not least, tuition fees of most universities in Switzerland are extremely competitive, which gladly adds to their attractiveness.

Negatives… if any?

There are some, but just a few minor ones.

It’s a very demanding diploma; there is a lot of studying that needs to be done. Studying ten core subjects over 4 years in both humanities and sciences constitutes a large amount of material that needs to be understood, learned and memorized. Grades obtained at school are not taken into account in the final exam grades. 

What’s more, exams take place after Y12 and after Y13, which means revisions take place at the end of July and students sit for exams at the end of August for both sessions. 

If a student is well organized, works consistently and regularly, most of the above-mentioned negatives don’t stand.

Want to know more ?

Mrs S. Gaymard is the Swiss Maturité Programme Director. 

Mrs. B. Hoesli is the University Counsellor for Swiss and francophone universities.

Finally, if you wish to chat with a « fan-parent », I will happily answer your questions too. 

By:  Alex Ginsburg

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