27 February 2018
Swiss universities have an enviable reputation for academic excellence, one that is confirmed by the global rankings. ETH Zurich (Federal institute of Technology) is currently ranked tenth in the QS and THE World University Rankings and nineteenth in the Shanghai ARWU rankings.
It is possible, however, that this performance may not continue forever. The think tank Avenir Suisse points out that in recent years there has been a dramatic expansion of higher education in Switzerland partly as a result of increased spending. The think tank argues that as a result, regional interests have taken precedence over excellence. There are now 38 higher education institutions in the country, many offering very similar courses.
Avenir Suisse suggests that Switzerland is being too wasteful and needs to become more competitive internationally. They propose a ten-point plan including greater autonomy and access to outside funding, clearer accreditation criteria, reducing federal funding for cantonal projects, opening the National Fund to private universities, higher tuition fees, more rigorous selection of students, transparency in university teaching, and making Switzerland more attractive to international students and faculty.
Some elements of the proposals have been welcomed by Swiss universities while the Students’ Union said that it was against raising fees and that university teaching should not be driven by “private industry interests”.