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Fashion School Q&A: Università della Svizzera italiana

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By FashionUnited

Jul 19, 2021

The Università della Svizzera italiana (USI, University of Italian Switzerland) is a Swiss university established in 1995, with campuses in Lugano, Mendrisio and Bellinzona (Canton Ticino, Switzerland). USI is the only university in Switzerland where the official language is Italian, but many of its programs are in English. FashionUnited spoke with USI about the institute’s future plans, courses, and community.

How is everything going at Università della Svizzera italiana? Are the physical classes back?

We are finalizing the intake of the Master students in Digital Fashion Communication (the deadline is on July 31st, 2021). It will be our fourth generation of students that will join the program. We expect to have a class of 30 individuals and hope they will start their classes on our beautiful campus in Lugano. While our second students are enjoying their holidays and getting ready to start their semester in Paris.

How would you describe the USI student community?

USI is known for being a very international university, with students and faculty hailing from 100 different countries, and for offering a wide range of opportunities and activities around the world.

Our Master program is not an exception. We usually have more than 10 nationalities in class, coming mostly from Europe, Asia, and Americas.

What kind of courses does Università della Svizzera italiana offer? What is the focus area?

Together with Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris, France) we offer a double degree Master of Science (MSc) in Digital Fashion Communication. It is a two-year, full-time program, held fully in English in two locations: in Lugano (Switzerland) and Paris (France).

The MSc in Digital Fashion Communication is the first digital fashion communication master of its kind in the world. It was created in 2018 to fill the existing digital skills gap in fashion business education and to meet the increasing demand for highly trained digital fashion communicators and marketers.

In this master, fashion is taken seriously and students are given the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the long-term socio-cultural processes that shape fashion and drive its impact on society. Several courses of the master focus on this key aspect: linking fashion with culture and heritage, while tackling the issues of sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

Among the reasons why the MSc in Digital Fashion Communication was launched, there is the fact that fashion companies are among the top employers of USI grads.

In this master's program, students are constantly put in contact with industry professionals through guest lectures, company visits, internship opportunities, and study tours in Switzerland, France, Spain, and Italy.

What do we need to know about Università della Svizzera italiana?

USI is present in the two leading global academic rankings: the Times Higher Education (THE) and the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings (QS).

We would like to feature a recent great achievement for the USI community as the University breaks into the 'top 250' in the QS World University Rankings 2022 at position 240 out of 1300 universities worldwide. Additionally, USI is positioned 37th worldwide in the Young University Rankings 2021. This year USI is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

What are the plans for this year? Any new things coming up?

Our university is based in Canton Ticino, Switzerland. Since the 1980s, Ticino has been attracting a large number of international fashion groups because of its strategic position between Milan, one of the fashion capitals of the world, and Zürich, the Swiss innovation centre. There are currently more than 80 fashion companies established in Ticino.

For instance, this year our Master programme has been collaborating with several companies based around Lugano. We had projects with the following fashion brands: VF International Group (Vans, The NorthFace, Timberland), Bally, Guess, and digital players: Accenture, Microsoft, Hyphen Italia, Netcomm Suisse eCommerce Association.

USI is a co-founder of the Lifestyle-Tech Competence Center, which acts as an innovation hub in the field of Fashion and of Lifestyle at large.

Do you have any tips for future students who want to study at Università della Svizzera italiana?

Our Master program, even if taught fully in English, puts the students in direct contact with the French, Italian and Swiss cultures. The French and Italian cultures created fashion as-we-know-it, and the Swiss one that promotes and embodies excellence and innovation.

We encourage our students to learn French and Italian during the two years of the Master programme. They can do it while attending classes for free on our university premises.

Photos: Università della Svizzera italiana