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A bit of background: I will be heading for an exchange program in Switzerland; I have applied for a Visa 'D' for that purpose.

I would like to continue travelling in Europe (primarily Schengen states) after my exchange ends around 8th July. I assume that will also be the expiry of the Swiss residence permit I will be issued.

The passport that I hold requires a visa for almost every country. As such, once my residence permit expires, I cannot stay in Europe and will have to leave the Schengen Area.

However, at the end of my program, I would like to travel around for about 3 weeks. Am I able to apply to extend or renew my Schengen visa while I'm already in the area? I can't apply now as it's way too early.

Would it be possible for me to go to UK and apply for the Schengen visa there? I have a UK visa that is valid throughout the exchange, so heading there is a possibility.

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    You are supposed to apply for Schengen visas in the place where you are normally resident. Since you are (temporarily) resident in Switzerland, you might be able to apply for the visa there. If this is possible, you would plan a trip that begins when your D visa expires, and of which the "main destination" is some country other than Switzerland. You would then apply for the visa to that country's embassy or consulate in Switzerland. A consulate or embassy in the UK would refuse your application because you do not reside there. – phoog Nov 18 '16 at 3:36
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    @phoog That makes sense. Yeah I think I would be able to apply in Switzerland, I just presumed UK initially because I thought you had to be out of schengen to apply for a schengen visa. I will check with embassy and all though thanks ! :) – zaitsev11 Nov 18 '16 at 3:54
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    Official statistics show that it's not common but does happen. – Relaxed Nov 18 '16 at 6:43
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Since you'll be in Switzerland on a long-term visa (and therefore a resident), nothing would stop you from applying for a Schengen visa from within Europe. There are plenty of European consulates in Bern and other major cities, however most of them don't issue short-term visas. The reason is that Switzerland is a Schengen member and very few local residents require a visa. E.g. from the Czech embassy in Bern:

Due to the possibility to travel in all countries of the Schengen-area using only one visa the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to unite the Embassy Visa Departments into Regional Visa Centers.

As of January 1st 2011, therefore, visa-applications are only being processed in the Consular Departments of a few selected Czech Embassies within the Schengen-area (Athens, Berlin, Bratislava, Brussels, Madrid, Stockholm, Warsaw, Vienna). Their territorial competence is the following:

...

Embassy of the Czech Republic Vienna (Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Malta, Slovenia)

So, e.g., in order to obtain a Czech short-term visa, you will need to travel to Vienna. As statistics found by @Relaxed show, only 162 visas were issued within Switzerland in 2014, so it's unlikely you will be able to find a consulate to help you out within the country. To answer your other questions...

Am I able to apply to extend or renew my Schengen visa while I'm already in the area

You have a national 'D' visa, which might indeed be extendable if you have a reason to stay in Switzerland for more time. However you cannot 'convert' a 'D' visa into a tourist ('C') visa, so you would need to apply for one from scratch.

Would it be possible for me to go to UK and apply for the Schengen visa there?

No, since you won't be a UK resident. See our related question for more details.

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