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Reviews of National Policies for Education
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
The Swiss university system is of a high international standard. It is complemented by a broad system of
vocational training, parts of which were recently upgraded to the tertiary level. Tertiary education reform is
in a dynamic phase in Switzerland as it grapples with national and global challenges emerging from the
transition to a knowledge society. This review makes recommendations for further improvements to the
tertiary education system in Switzerland.
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ISBN 92-64-10308-2
91 2003 03 1 P
-:HSTCQE=VUXU]Z:
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
Switzerland has made major strides in improving access to and providing greater diversity of tertiary
education. The report recommends additional measures for improving permeability in access routes and
for building closer relationships between different parts of the tertiary sector. It also advocates expanding
areas of study in the newly created universities of applied sciences, and for more flexible arrangements
to meet the learning needs of adults. The already high quality of research of Swiss universities needs to
be strengthened in the area of social sciences. While the Swiss system gets high marks in coping with
internationalisation, the flow of Swiss students studying abroad needs augmentation. The report also
offers a range of recommendations in the area of the overall steering of the system and in improving
effective internal management of the tertiary sector, two of the biggest challenges for reforms. There are
also recommendations for improving the Swiss knowledge base on tertiary education.
Reviews of National Policies for Education
OECD reviews of national education policies provide a well-established means for member countries to
engage their peers in reviewing their country’s policies. This report was prepared at the invitation of the
Swiss authorities. It is divided into two parts: a background report, prepared by the Swiss authorities,
and the OECD examiners’ report.
«
Reviews of National
Policies for Education
Tertiary
Education
in Switzerland
© OECD, 2003.
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REVIEWS OF NATIONAL POLICIES FOR EDUCATION
Tertiary
Education
in Switzerland
ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT
ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION
AND DEVELOPMENT
Pursuant to Article 1 of the Convention signed in Paris on 14th December 1960,
and which came into force on 30th September 1961, the Organisation for Economic
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Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the
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takes part in the work of the OECD (Article 13 of the OECD Convention).
Publié en français sous le titre :
Examens des politiques nationales d’éducation
L’enseignement tertiaire en Suisse
© OECD 2003
Permission to reproduce a portion of this work for non-commercial purposes or classroom use should be obtained through
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FOREWORD
Foreword
92-64-10308-2
O
ECD reviews of national policies for education, conducted by the Education
Committee, provide a means for member countries to engage their peers in examining
education policy issues. In October 2002, Switzerland’s tertiary education policy was
reviewed by the Committee at the request of the Swiss authorities. The review came
during a period when Switzerland had recently implemented substantial policy
reforms of the tertiary sector and proposals for ongoing reform for education, research
and technology for the period 2004-2007 were being prepared for submission to the
parliament.
Recent reforms in Switzerland include the establishment of a new vocational
stream at the tertiary level, introduced in 1997. Student enrolment rates, previously
among the lowest in the OECD, have risen substantially in recent years to match
neighbouring countries. Targeted measures have been introduced to strengthen the
already high standards of science, engineering and other domains of research. New
Public Management procedures have been implemented in tertiary institutions to
improve performance and accountability.
The purpose of the OECD review was to evaluate these developments and offer
recommendations for addressing emerging challenges.
This report is in two parts. Part I consists of the background report prepared by
the Swiss authorities. Its five chapters provide an overview of the different contexts
and arenas within which Swiss tertiary education takes place and the policy challenges
the sector faces. It describes the structure and financial arrangements of the sector, the
patterns of participation in, and provision of, learning opportunities, the research
profile, the patterns of teaching and learning, and the processes of internationalisation.
It also describes the range of reforms currently underway, both globally at the system
level and at the level of tertiary institutions.
The OECD examiners’ report, which forms Part II of the publication, draws upon
the background report among other inputs. Its six chapters offer policy analyses and
recommendations. Chapter 1 outlines the challenges faced by the tertiary education
sector set against the historical context and the characteristics of the sector. Chapter 2
reviews the scope and structure of the Swiss tertiary education system. Chapter 3
examines teaching, learning and research in relation to achievements, problems and
reforms. Chapter 4 focuses on the shift from control and administration to steering and
management. Chapter 5 reviews information for decision-making and the need to
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
3
FOREWORD
improve the existing knowledge base. The final chapter – Chapter 6 – summarises the
main findings and offers recommendations for further action in these areas.
The Examiners’ team comprised Prof. Ulrich Teichler (Germany), who served as
the Rapporteur for the team, Prof. Michel Hoffert (France), Dr. Elsa Hackl (Austria),
Prof. Alan Wagner (USA) and Dr. Abrar Hasan (OECD), who also co-ordinated the
publication. Copy editing was the responsibility of Delphine Grandrieux and Noëleen
El Hachem was responsible for administration.
This volume is published on the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the
OECD.
4
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of contents
Executive Summary ..................................................................................................
9
Part I
Background Report
Summary of the Background Report .......................................................................
16
Chapter 1.
Switzerland .............................................................................................
21
The country and its people ..........................................................................
History and political organisation ..............................................................
Co-operation between the Confederation and the cantons ...................
22
26
28
1.1.
1.2.
1.3.
Chapter 2.
2.1.
2.2.
2.3.
The Educational System in Switzerland ............................................
29
Structure of the educational system ..........................................................
Shared responsibilities .................................................................................
Educational attainment ................................................................................
30
34
35
Chapter 3.
3.1.
3.2.
3.3.
3.4.
3.5.
3.6.
3.7.
Tertiary Education in Switzerland ......................................................
39
Advanced vocational training .....................................................................
Switzerland’s two-track system: universities and universities
of applied sciences ........................................................................................
Research in Switzerland ...............................................................................
The international relations of universities, universities of applied
sciences and the administration ................................................................
Support programmes ....................................................................................
Continuing education and training ............................................................
The relation between Swiss higher education institutions,
the economy and society .............................................................................
40
Chapter 4. The Financing of Tertiary Education ...................................................
4.1.
4.2.
4.3.
The structure of the financing of universities ..........................................
The structure of the financing of universities of applied sciences ..............
Education, research and technology 2000-2003 ........................................
Chapter 5.
43
71
81
85
91
94
99
100
102
103
Reforms in Tertiary Education .............................................................
105
The process of reform of Swiss higher education institutions,
2000-2007.........................................................................................................
107
Annex Tables................................................................................................................
Bibliography..................................................................................................................
111
121
5.1.
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
5
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Part II
Examiners’ Report
Chapter 6.
6.1.
6.2.
6.3.
6.4.
6.5.
6.6.
Introduction .............................................................................................
129
Tertiary policies and the function of an OECD review ............................
The characteristics of tertiary education in Switzerland ........................
The challenges of modernisation in tertiary education in Switzerland
Swiss policy options .....................................................................................
The OECD review ...........................................................................................
The focus on tertiary education ..................................................................
130
132
135
137
138
140
Chapter 7.
7.1.
7.2.
7.3.
Scope and Structure of the Tertiary Education System ..................
143
Access, educational paths and opportunities ...........................................
An expanding system ...................................................................................
Diversification and the role played by various types of institutions .....
144
150
153
Chapter 8.
8.1.
8.2.
8.3.
8.4.
8.5.
8.6.
8.7.
8.8.
Teaching, Learning and Research: Achievements, Problems
and Reforms ............................................................................................
The importance of the research function ..................................................
Achievements and needed reforms in the core domains of high-quality
research ...................................................................................................................
The role of other disciplines and fields of study ......................................
The links with industry and the economy ................................................
Internationalisation of higher education ..................................................
Teaching, learning and staff careers ..........................................................
Evaluation .......................................................................................................
The overall situation .....................................................................................
Chapter 9.
165
166
167
170
172
175
178
180
181
From Control and Administration to Steering and Management ......
185
Introduction ...................................................................................................
Major trends of reforms ...............................................................................
The federal-canton governmental system and the steering
of tertiary education .....................................................................................
The relationships between government and tertiary education
institutions .....................................................................................................
Governance within higher education institutions ...................................
The private sector and the role of market-based incentives ..................
186
186
191
194
198
Chapter 10. Information for Decision Making: The Current Situation
and Needed Improvements ..................................................................
203
9.1.
9.2.
9.3.
9.4.
9.5.
9.6.
10.1. The need for information .............................................................................
10.2. The current state of statistical and evaluation-related information
gathering .......................................................................................................
10.3. Higher education research ...........................................................................
10.4. New ways of communication ......................................................................
6
187
204
206
208
209
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 11. Conclusions and Recommendations ..................................................
11.1.
11.2.
11.3.
11.4.
11.5.
211
Introduction ..................................................................................................
Scale and scope of tertiary education ........................................................
Teaching, learning and research in dynamic tertiary education systems
Governance and organisation: incentives and capacity for change ......
Information for decision making ................................................................
212
213
216
218
220
Bibliography..................................................................................................................
222
Glossary of Acronyms ................................................................................................
223
List of Tables
Part I
2.1.
2.2.
3.1.
3.2.
3.3.
3.4.
4.1.
Access tracks to tertiary education................................................................
Division of powers in the realm of education ..............................................
Fields of study in Swiss universities..............................................................
Fields of study in the universities of applied sciences................................
Possible transfer tracks between universities and UAS..............................
Switzerland’s ranking in the top ten research countries ...........................
Main financial indicators for universities (Year 2000, x SF 1 000) ............
Annex Tables
1.
Fields of study in universities.........................................................................
2.
Rates of academic maturity certificate granted in 1999 by canton ...........
3.
Rate of maturités professionnelles (vocational secondary certificates)
granted in 2000 by canton ...............................................................................
4.
Number of men and women among university students in 2000,
by university......................................................................................................
5.
Number of men and women among students in colleges of higher
education in 2000, by institution............................................................................
6.
Activity rate (%) in 2000 by university ...........................................................
7.
Breakdown of staff by university in 2000......................................................
8.
Staff of colleges of higher education in 2000 by institution ......................
9.
Rate of men and women receiving university degrees by canton in 2000
Part II
7.1.
Entry rates to tertiary education, Type A......................................................
7.2.
Year of foundation and enrolment figures of university-type institutions
in Switzerland ....................................................................................................
7.3.
Relative earnings of the population with income from employment,
selected OECD countries..................................................................................
7.4.
Universities of applied sciences: enrolment, schools and fields of study
9.1.
“Multi-level” governance in Swiss tertiary education.................................
33
35
53
64
69
72
101
112
115
116
117
117
118
118
119
120
152
155
157
158
193
List of Figures
1.1.
1.2.
Population structure by age ...........................................................................
Distribution of the Swiss labour force by sector, 1970-2000 ......................
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
23
24
7
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.3.
1.4.
1.5.
1.6.
2.1.
2.2.
2.3
2.4.
2.5.
3.1.
3.2.
3.3.
3.4.
3.5.
3.6.
3.7.
3.8.
3.9.
3.10.
3.11.
3.12.
3.13.
3.14.
3.15.
3.16.
3.17.
3.18.
3.19.
3.20.
3.21.
3.22.
Distribution of the permanent resident population aged 15 and up
by labour market status, 2000 .........................................................................
Unemployment in Switzerland, 1996-2001 ...................................................
International comparison of per capita GDP (purchasing power) .............
Composition of the National Council (Parliament) ......................................
The educational system in Switzerland (simplified) ...................................
Upper secondary graduates by type of instruction and by gender ...........
Political structures of Swiss universities and universities of applied
sciences (UAS) ...................................................................................................
Educational levels in Switzerland, 2000 ........................................................
Swiss educational levels: An international comparison, 1998 ...................
Trends in advanced vocational training qualifications awarded
in federally regulated courses, 1980-99 .................................................................
Advanced vocational training qualifications by gender, language area
and type, 1999 ...................................................................................................
The two-track system of Swiss higher education system ..........................
Organisation of Swiss universities and UAS: Who does what? .................
University enrolments by gender ...................................................................
Per cent of young people beginning university studies by gender ................
Enrolments by gender and field of study, 2000 ............................................
Students’ background by parents’ educational level, 1995 and 2000 ............
Foreign students in Swiss universities, by field of study, 2000 ..................
Duration of studies in Swiss universities, by gender and field of study, 2000
University graduates as per cent of Swiss population, by gender, 1980-2000
Success rates, by gender and field of study, 1990 cohort ............................
University graduates in the labour market ...................................................
Swiss university staff, 2000 .............................................................................
Gender balance of Swiss university staff in full-time equivalents, 2000 ..
Enrolments in Swiss universities of applied sciences, 1997-2001 ..................
Enrolments in Swiss universities of applied sciences, by gender
and field of study, 2000 ....................................................................................
University of Applied Sciences staff, 2000 ....................................................
Gender distribution of University of Applied Sciences staff, 2000 .................
Public research decision-making and funding on the national level ............
The Confederation’s expenditure on research and development, 2000 ...
National Centres of Competence in Research ..............................................
24
25
25
27
31
32
35
36
36
41
42
43
44
54
55
55
56
56
57
58
59
59
60
61
66
66
67
67
73
74
77
List of Maps
1.1.
3.1
3.2
8
Switzerland .......................................................................................................
Swiss universities .............................................................................................
Switzerland’s universities of applied sciences.............................................
22
51
62
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
ISBN 92-64-10308-2
Reviews of National Policies for Education
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
© OECD 2003
Executive Summary
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
9
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
T
his review came in the midst of substantial recent and prospective
reforms of the Swiss tertiary education sector. Its purpose was to evaluate
these developments and offer recommendations for addressing emerging
challenges. The terms of reference for the review covered the full range of the
tertiary sector, with particular focus on the following: access to tertiary
provision; the capacity and flexibility of the sector in meeting social and
economic demand and the requirements of the recent and planned reforms;
basic and applied research, and the quality of teaching and learning;
governance, steering, quality assurance and accountability mechanisms; and
the role of the new and strengthened colleges in provision of degree and
non-degree learning opportunities.
The examiners’ report draws on the background report (Part I of this
publication) and the study visit, among other inputs. Chapter 6 outlines the
challenges faced by the tertiary education sector set against the historical
context and the characteristics of the sector. Chapter 7 reviews the scope and
structure of the Swiss tertiary education system. Chapter 8 examines teaching,
learning and research including in the context of internationalisation.
Chapter 9 focuses on the issues of steering and management. Chapter 10
reviews information for decision-making and the need to improve the existing
knowledge base. The final chapter, Chapter 11, summarises, in one package,
the main findings and recommendations developed in Chapters 7 through 10.
Tertiary education was reformed later in Switzerland than in other OECD
countries. Entry rates into tertiary-level education remained low well into
the 1980s, the vocational training system was maintained largely at the same
level and in the same form into the 1990s, and the underlying infrastructure
underwent very modest change in the decade preceding the new millennium.
That picture has now changed. Swiss tertiary education is undergoing
substantial reform. Tertiary-level enrolment rates in 2002 are twice those of
the 1980s. Parts of the advanced-level vocational training system now operate
as universities of applied sciences. Steering became more strategic with the
introduction of New Public Management (NPM), a growing weight for market
forces, and strong efforts to increase nationwide co-ordination of tertiary
education. These changes are to be reinforced in a new law to take effect over
the four-year period ending in 2007. The reforms now being advanced seek to
foster the development of capacities within the tertiary education system to
cope with challenges arising from the knowledge society, widening diversity
10
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
of learners and stakeholders and growing global interdependence in
economic, educational and social activities.
The examiners’ report evaluates these developments and offers
recommendations in the following areas.
Scope and structure of the tertiary education system
Access to tertiary education has expanded significantly in Switzerland in
recent years. Gender inequalities have narrowed. Study programmes have been
diversified and vocational education has been upgraded to the tertiary level.
Some existing inequities need addressing. Those young adults of nonSwiss parents who have followed schooling entirely in Switzerland are onethird as likely to acquire academic or vocational Matura and so are less likely
to have access to tertiary education. In general, participation of young adults
from under-represented groups and cantons needs to be expanded.
Several steps can be taken to improve permeability in access routes and
qualifications. In general, existing pathways and qualifications need to be
linked in a coherent and complementary range of tertiary education options.
Changes in pathways should not require undue prolongation of studies, and
conditions for mobility should be transparent and based on explicit rules rather
than subject to a case by case treatment. While the distinction between the
academic and vocational Matura should be maintained, first year studies in
universities should be more accessible to students entering with vocational and
other non-conventional qualifications. The universities of applied sciences
should, likewise, be more flexible in admitting students with academic Matura.
The bachelor’s degrees, whether from the universities or the universities of
applied sciences, should be strengthened to offer options for both the labour
market and further studies. Study programmes for teacher training and health
education (among other parts of higher vocational training) should be added to
the universities of applied sciences to benefit from the synergies from locating
these studies in a broader range of fields.
Teaching, learning, research and internationalisation
New demands of the knowledge society and knowledge economy and
growing internationalisation argue for a more comprehensive vision of
teaching, learning and research. While Swiss universities can be justly proud
of the high quality of their research, especially in technical, engineering and
natural sciences, there is a relative neglect of research in the fields of social
sciences and humanities and in cross-disciplinary dimensions of research.
Moreover, academic research needs to be better geared to the service of
economy and society. Criteria for excellence in research should be broadened
from standard academic criteria to include contribution to informing the
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
11
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
public debate on key societal issues. New incentives should be introduced to
reward excellence in teaching. Attention should be paid to improving working
and employment conditions for junior and middle-level staff.
The widening diversity of backgrounds, talents and pathways of students in
the expanded tertiary education system requires adaptations in pedagogy.
Greater efforts should be made to adapt policies and institutional practices,
including curricula and course modules, to accommodate a wider national,
cultural, and linguistic diversity. Professional education and training activities
within universities, universities of applied sciences and other tertiary education
institutions need boosting, in part through strengthened links with industry. Both
the universities and the colleges should play a more active role in extending
technology transfer and professional education and training to the SMEs.
Swiss tertiary education already is characterised by a high degree of
internationalisation, including the presence of large numbers of non-Swiss
teachers and researches and active participation in European higher education
exchange activities. Wider international recruitment, exchange and engagement
of university and college staff, in a global perspective, should be encouraged.
Steps should be taken to augment the flows of Swiss studying abroad and intercantonal mobility of students within Switzerland.
Administration, control and steering
There is consensus on the need to strengthen nation-wide co-ordination
of tertiary education policies. This can take many forms: a merger under one
ministry of existing tertiary education functions at Confederation level, and a
possible strengthening of Confederation powers in areas such as the oversight
of incentives to foster institutional profiles, accreditation and evaluation
activities, and development and maintenance of the information base for
decision-making. A new entity of the CUS (Conférence universitaire suisse or
Swiss University Conference) could take on an independent role as the provider
of policy analyses, policy advice and programmes and capacity development
activities for the whole of tertiary education in the context of a forwardlooking view of the system.
The new challenges faced by the Swiss tertiary sector cannot be met without
strengthening the capacity for initiative at the level of individual institutions,
within the context of an agreed national vision for the sector. Recent reforms
have promoted the concept of New Public Management (NPM), which has
accorded substantial autonomy to the universities and the universities of
applied sciences, while encouraging greater accountability and competition
among institutions. NPM remains relatively new to tertiary education in
Switzerland, and its implementation is being pursued mostly through trial and
error in areas such as the respective powers of the boards and those of the senior
12
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
management, the relationships between management and those in academia,
and the roles played by formula-based incentives and contracts for human
resource management. Measures to strengthen professional management skills
and capacities in institutions and ministries should be considered, including
increases in qualified staff specialised in preparing and implementing policy and
management decisions. Further consideration should be given to clarifying the
role of the boards, a sharpening of the outputs in performance mandates, and
availability of better information to support decision-making.
There is room to encourage and exploit institution-level initiative that can
build on measures already in place such as incentives within performance
mandates, enrolment-driven funding, and options for studies and research that
lie outside Swiss borders. Consideration should be given to offering some type of
“risk” margin in funding and performance appraisal. Such a margin would
encourage innovation in areas such as student recruitment; programme content,
delivery or qualification; cross-level, cross-sector or industry partnerships; and
staffing arrangements. Private funding and provision should be used to
strengthen incentives and heighten competition among existing institutions,
particularly to accommodate overlooked potential student pools such as adult
learners.
Information for decision-making
The evolving complexities of division of responsibilities between the
Confederation and the cantons, the increasing diversity of learners, the trend
towards expanding internationalisation, the new requirements of professional
management of institutions, transparency and accountability, the present
dynamic phase of tertiary education development are some of factors placing
new demands on the knowledge base needed for decision-making related to
tertiary education in Switzerland.
Efforts should be made to extend the statistics and surveys collected by
the Federal Statistical Office, particularly by exploiting those administrative
activities that generate data relevant to the functioning and performance of
the tertiary education system (e.g. institution-level evaluations). Information
and guidance needed by prospective tertiary education students and their
parents, from the end of basic schooling to the end of upper secondary
education, are relatively neglected and require attention. The functions of coordination and standardisation of information collected from different
sources need strengthening. It is important to develop the capacity for sound
research on important current issues and prospective developments and
options. This can be achieved through targeted research support but
consideration should also be given to establishing an institute for tertiary
education research on a permanent basis.
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
13
PART I
Background Report
Prepared by the Swiss authorities
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
SUMMARY OF THE BACKGROUND REPORT
Summary of the Background Report
The Swiss education system is unique. While education is centralised in
France and administered federally in Germany, historical reasons have meant
that in Switzerland powers in this area are split between the cantons and the
Confederation.
How those powers are divided depends on the type of institution and the
level of education. At the compulsory level (primary and lower secondary
school), the cantons have sole authority. At the upper secondary level, the
Confederation is responsible for vocational training, while the cantons have
jurisdiction over general education, and the “gymnasia” (gymnases) in
particular. Upper secondary diploma requirements are set jointly by the
cantons and the Confederation.
A two-track system of colleges and universities
Higher, or tertiary, education is extremely diversified in Switzerland. Here
too, powers are shared between the cantons and the Confederation. The
Confederation regulates advanced vocational training and colleges of higher
education (hautes écoles spécialisées, or HES), and it also has supervisory
authority over the two federal polytechnic institutes. In addition, it promotes
research. The cantons have responsibility for cantonal universities and
provide most of the financing for universities and colleges of higher
education, although they do receive some support from the Confederation.
The Swiss system of colleges and universities is a dual one, comprising
universities – which include cantonal universities and federal institutes of
technology – and colleges of higher education.
There are ten cantonal universities. Those of Basel, Bern, Fribourg, Geneva,
Lausanne, Neuchâtel and Zurich have similar structures and offer a wide
spectrum of instruction. The University of St. Gallen has a more “targeted”
structure, with courses in the fields of law, economics and political science. The
same, more “targeted” and less “universal” structure has also been adopted by
the new universities of Italian-speaking Switzerland and Lucerne.
The federal polytechnic institutes of Zurich (ETH Zurich) and Lausanne
(EPFL) focus primarily on the exact sciences, engineering and architecture. Along
with the two polytechnics, four research institutes – the Paul Scherrer Institute
16
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SUMMARY OF THE BACKGROUND REPORT
(IPS), the Federal Institute for Woodland, Snow and Landscape Research (FNP), the
Federal Laboratory for Materials Testing and Research (LFEM), and the Federal
Institute for Water Supplies, Waste Water Treatment and Water Resources
Protection (IFAEPE) – constitute the federal institutes of technology.
Since a number of advanced training schools (écoles supérieures
spécialisées) were converted to colleges of higher education in the late 1990s,
Switzerland has had a new type of tertiary facility geared heavily towards
practical applications. In addition to teaching, the seven colleges of higher
education are also active in applied research and development, the promotion
of technology and knowledge transfers, services to third parties and
vocational development.
The Confederation and the cantons intervene at different levels in setting
up and administering colleges of higher education. The Confederation makes
the laws and confers certification in fields of study falling within its
jurisdiction (architecture, technical studies, chemical engineering, agriculture,
economics and administration, and applied arts), which it subsidises as well.
Other fields fall within the scope of the cantons (social work, teacher training,
health care, and pedagogy, visual arts, music and the performing arts, applied
linguistics and applied psychology).
The seven colleges of higher education, which are each made up of
partner institutions, are: Haute école spécialisée de Suisse occidentale (HESS O ) , H a u t e é c o l e s p é c i a l i s é e b e r n o i s e ( H E S - B E ) , Fa ch h o ch s ch u l e
Nordwestschweiz (FHNW), Zürcher Fachhochschule (ZFH), Fachhochschule
Zentralschweiz (FHZ), Fachhochschule Ostschweiz (FHO) and Scuola
universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI).
A high level of education
In comparison with other countries, the level of education in Switzerland
is high. Four-fifths of the Swiss population have completed a course of postcompulsory schooling. Most people have completed an upper secondary
vocational course. One in five possesses a tertiary-level diploma. During the
winter semester of 2000, nearly 100 000 students were enrolled in Swiss
universities, while nearly 25 000 were studying at colleges of higher education.
Switzerland strong in research
Switzerland is a country that, by international standards, invests heavily
in research. With scant natural resources, Switzerland attaches great
importance to R&D to ensure long-term prosperity and social welfare.
More than two-thirds of the research performed in Switzerland is funded
by the private sector. In private industry, researchers primarily carry out
applied research. Fundamental research is performed essentially in the
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17
SUMMARY OF THE BACKGROUND REPORT
universities. For their part, the colleges of higher education focus on
market-oriented applied research and development activities.
International relations
Switzerland participates as a tacit partner in the European Union’s
Leonardo da Vinci and Socrates training programmes. Through temporary
measures, the Confederation finances Switzerland’s indirect participation in
both programmes. The Swiss Government has set a goal of instituting a
bilateral agreement with the European Union in the area of training and youth
as soon as possible.
Such bilateral accords are important for Switzerland in order to ensure
the mobility of students and mutual recognition of examinations and
diplomas. Similarly, Swiss colleges and universities support the overall
objectives of the Bologna Declaration. Some of them already adopted the
bachelor/master system for portions of their curricula in the autumn of 2001.
College and university reforms
For the period spanning the years 2000 to 2007, the Swiss Government
and Parliament have initiated a process to reform colleges and universities.
Institutions are having to work together more than they have in the past. The
goal is to create networks in the area of tertiary education that should allow
the existing potential to be exploited more fully. In training and research,
special emphasis has also been put on quality. Priority is to be given to
encouraging recognised skills and areas with a promising future.
In 1999, in order to achieve the aims of the reform, the Confederation
adopted a series of innovations, some of which are substantial. Increasingly
autonomous colleges and universities have been integrated into a system of
networks that combine competition and collaboration. In addition, the
building of colleges must be pursued, with a goal of integrating them as full
and equal partners of Swiss universities by 2007.
With backing from the Confederation, the cantons too are responding to
the challenge of college and university reform. Made possible by the thorough
overhaul of cantonal legislation in the 1990s, reforms are now being
implemented as schools begin to pool their resources, offer their regions more
balanced curricula and form genuine networks.
The Swiss Government has also initiated a project to introduce a new
article to the Constitution that would improve co-operation between the
Confederation and the cantons in the realm of colleges and universities. A
popular referendum on the issue is planned for 2003.
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SUMMARY OF THE BACKGROUND REPORT
At the upper secondary level, the process of reform started earlier. Already
in 1995, the Swiss Government and the cantons decided to reform secondary
school diplomas. The new regulations call for a single type of academic diploma
(until then there had been five), a reduction in the number of subjects and
examinations, and the introduction of a thesis requirement. These reforms
should be fully in place by 2003. In 1993, with the introduction of a vocational
diploma, the Swiss Government and the cantons expressed their commitment
to improving the overall conditions of vocational training as well.
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ISBN 92-64-10308-2
Reviews of National Policies for Education
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
© OECD 2003
PART I
Chapter 1
Switzerland
This chapter provides the political and historical background to the
four chapters on the Swiss tertiary system that follow. It describes
the unique features of the Swiss educational set-up that split
e d u c a t i o n a l re s p o n s i b i l i t i e s b e t w e e n c a n t o n s a n d t h e
Confederation.
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I.1.
SWITZERLAND
1.1. The country and its people
Switzerland, or the Swiss Confederation, is a small country of
41 284 square kilometres located in the heart of Europe between (moving
clockwise, from left to right) France, Germany, Austria, the Principality of
Liechtenstein (FL) and Italy (see Map 1.1). Its capital is Bern. The country is one
of the most mountainous in Europe: the Alps, Pre-Alps and Jura occupy more
than two-thirds of its land area. Contrasting with these mountainous regions
is the Swiss plateau, which is home to a majority of the country’s
7.16 million people. While this figure has remained fairly stable, the
population of persons over 65 is on the rise, while that of young people under
19 is in decline (see Figure 1.1).
Map 1.1.
Switzerland
GERMANY
Basel
Zurich
St. Gallen
FRANCE
FL
Bern
AUSTRIA
Coire
Lausanne
Geneva
Lugano
ITALY
Source: CDIP.
Geographically diverse, Switzerland is also diverse in terms of the
languages that are spoken there. This small country recognises no fewer than
four national languages. German is spoken by nearly two-thirds of the
population, French by one-fifth, Italian by under 10%, and Romansh by less
22
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I.1.
Figure 1.1.
SWITZERLAND
Population structure by age
0-19
20-64
65-79
80+
%
100
80
60
Estimates
40
20
0
1910
1930
1950
1970
1990
1999
2010
2030
2050
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
than 1%. The remaining 10% or so speak other languages. It must be said that
a fifth of the population is made up of resident foreigners. This proportion has
risen steadily, but it would drop to less than 10% if it included only those
foreigners that have lived in Switzerland for a limited amount of time. Over
half of the foreigners living in Switzerland have resided there for more than
15 years, or were born there.
From agriculture to industry
In 1815, when Switzerland’s final borders were drawn at the Congress of
Vienna, the population was 2.2 million. It was divided between plateau
farmers, mountain dwellers and residents of already-large cities such as
Geneva, Zurich and Basel. It was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that
modern Switzerland took shape, with its industries, its tourism and its
financial services. Agricultural Switzerland was transformed into an
industrial country.
Today, the structure of the economy features a high degree of
specialisation, the presence of large multinationals and a strong banking
sector. Over two-thirds of the population live in urban areas. Zurich is
Switzerland’s largest city, with about 370 000 people. Four other cities have
populations in excess of 100 000: Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne.
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I.1.
SWITZERLAND
Services in the forefront
The labour force accounts for more than half of the permanent resident
population. It breaks down into the service sector (64%), industry (32%) and
agriculture (4%) (see Figure 1.2). Within the population of permanent residents
aged 15 and up, the proportion of the labour force rises to two-thirds (see
Figure 1.3). In that same category, the rate of jobless people has diminished
steadily since 1997, when it peaked at 4.1% (see Figure 1.4).
Figure 1.2.
Distribution of the Swiss labour force by sector, 1970-2000
Services
Industry, applied arts and crafts
Agriculture and forestry
1970
1980
1990
2000
0
20
40
60
80
100
%
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
Figure 1.3.
Distribution of the permanent resident population aged 15
and up by labour market status, 2000
Labour force
Not in the labour force
Self-employed
and family assistants
Pensioners and other
non-working persons
Wage-earners and apprentices
Housewife/husband
Unemployed
People in training
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
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I.1.
Figure 1.4.
SWITZERLAND
Unemployment in Switzerland, 1996-2001
Women
Men
3.7%
145 000
4.1%
162 000
3.6%
142 000
3.1%
122 000
1996
1997
1998
1999
2.7%
106 000
2000
2.5%
101 000
2001
Unemployed
in % and in absolute figures
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office (ESPA 2000).
An important market
Despite its small size and very limited population, Switzerland possesses
a very attractive market for European businesses. The first reason for this is
the country’s wealth. Gross domestic product (see Figure 1.5), or GDP, and per
capita GDP in particular, is one of the main indicators used for economic
analysis, and for spatial comparisons and/or comparisons over time on an
international level. It reveals a country’s wealth.
Figure 1.5.
International comparison of per capita GDP (purchasing power)
€
35 000
United States
30 000
Switzerland
25 000
Japan
Germany
20 000
France
15 000
European Union
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
Source: Eurostat.
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I.1.
SWITZERLAND
1.2. History and political organisation
Since the Upper Palaeolithic – the period to which the first evidence of
human settlement can be traced – a great many cultures have lived together or
in turn on the land of what is now called Switzerland. Among those most
significant for the country’s history were the Celtic Helvetian tribe, which
settled there during the Metal Age, between 2000 and 750 BC. Others included
the Burgundians and the Alemanni – Germanic tribes that in the Middle Ages
were already laying the foundations for Switzerland’s linguistic future.
By 1033, all of present-day Switzerland had become part of the Germanic
Holy Roman Empire. A feudal system brought several families to prominence.
Foremost among them were the houses of Savoy, Zähringen and Hapsburg.
Inhabitants of the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwald bound together to
ensure a certain independence and formed the community of the
Waldstätten. The territories obtained imperial immediacy in the early
13th century, meaning that they were no longer subject to the authority of an
overlord, but to the emperor directly. When a Hapsburg became emperor in
1273, the Waldstätten’s immediacy lapsed, and the territories became
frightened. When the emperor died in 1291, their anxiety reached a crescendo
and they concluded an alliance that marked the founding of the Swiss
Confederation.
A federalist system
Other cantons later joined the alliance. Today, Switzerland is a
confederation comprising 26 cantons and half-cantons. In 1848, Switzerland
adopted a new constitution marking the power of the central government
while at the same time leaving a relative degree of sovereignty in the hands of
the cantons. It constituted a decisive step towards democracy. It promoted
centralisation without rejecting liberalism, in line with Swiss traditions. This
federalist system is still in force today.
Endowed with their own constitutions, their own governments and their
own laws, the cantons have the right to legislate in certain areas. For example,
they enjoy broad powers in areas such as education, public health, land-use
planning, the preservation of law and order, and judicial organisation. They
transfer to the Confederation a whole series of powers to administer areas
such as defence, foreign affairs, postal services and the railways. The cantons
themselves are divided into communes, which also enjoy a certain autonomy.
Communes administer their assets and manage local public services. In
addition, they assume such tasks as are devolved to them under cantonal or
federal legislation.
Direct democracy is entrenched firmly at each of the three levels. Citizens
elect not only the members of their parliaments, but members of their
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I.1.
SWITZERLAND
governments as well, except for the Federal Council. Moreover, important
questions are submitted to popular elections – for constitutional questions, or
following the exercise of the popular right of initiative and referendum. In
Switzerland, MPs are not professionals; they fulfil their local or federal
mandates along with other jobs.
At the federal level, Parliament is divided into two houses: the National
Council and the Council of States. This bicameral system enables both popular
delegation and egalitarian representation of all of the cantons – the most
populous and the least populous alike. The Government, represented by the
Federal Council, is composed of seven members selected by Parliament –
since 1959 from among the four major political parties (see Figure 1.6). The
seven take turns assuming the functions of President of the Confederation for
one year at a time.
Figure 1.6.
Composition of the National Council (Parliament)
Strength of the parties
%
100
PDC
40
PRD
Governing parties
60
Centre/
Right
PSS
Right
80
Left
Left-wing opposition and greens
UDC
20
Right-wing opposition
Other
0
1971
1975
1979
1983
1987
1991
1995
1999
Source: National Council (Parliament).
The cantonal system is based on a similar organisation. Members of both
the legislative and the executive bodies are elected directly by the people.
Specific details of the structures can vary widely from one canton to another.
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I.1.
SWITZERLAND
1.3. Co-operation between the Confederation and the cantons
The federal Constitution stipulates how powers shall be divided between
the Confederation and the cantons. Article 3 of the Constitution states that
the cantons shall “exercise all rights which are not transferred to the
Confederation”. The cantons are thus sovereign states, as long as that
sovereignty is not limited by the Constitution. They exercise all of the rights
that are not assigned to the Confederation. They themselves decide what
measures to enact in their areas of jurisdiction.
Even so, the Confederation and the cantons work together and lend each
other mutual support. The cantons are consulted regarding some of the
Confederation’s undertakings, and lawmaking in particular. In return, the
cantons are required to enforce federal law as it is defined in the Constitution
and federal legislation. But federal law takes priority over cantonal law. The
Confederation monitors the cantons’ compliance with federal law.
The expression “co-operative federalism” is used to summarise this
system.
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ISBN 92-64-10308-2
Reviews of National Policies for Education
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
© OECD 2003
PART I
Chapter 2
The Educational System in Switzerland
This chapter describes the educational system in Switzerland.
Cantons have sole authority over compulsory education (primary
and lower secondary education). At the upper secondary level, the
Confederation is responsible for vocational training, while the
cantons have jurisdiction over the general education and the
“gymnasia”. Upper secondary diploma requirements are set jointly
by the cantons and the Confederation.
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I.2.
THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN SWITZERLAND
2.1. Structure of the educational system
Very broadly, the Swiss education system (see Figure 2.1) may be broken
down into three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. A “pre-school” level can
be distinguished as a preparation for primary school. For its part, the secondary
level is subdivided into two parts, one being compulsory and the other not.
The pre-school level
Pre-school is optional, but it offers preparation for compulsory education
and is an entitlement enjoyed by children in every canton. By 1999/2000,
children were spending an average of 1.9 years in pre-school institutions. This
length of time has increased throughout the country, except in the cantons of
central Switzerland, in which it has averaged about 1.3 years for the past
18 years. There are significant differences between the cantons, where
approaches to pre-school education differ.
The primary and lower secondary levels
Compulsory schooling is the basis of the Swiss education system. It
generally lasts nine years, split between the primary and lower secondary
levels. In most of the cantons, primary school lasts six years. It is followed by
lower secondary school, which generally lasts three years. With it ends the
obligation to attend school.
Upper secondary level
Upper secondary school constitutes the first phase of post-compulsory
education. It comprises all instruction of a vocational or general nature. In 2000,
86% of young people of school-leaving age possessed an upper secondary
diploma. The remaining 14% had no formal education at that level or had taken
a one-year course or had elementary training. Among upper secondary school
graduates, three-quarters had received vocational instruction and one-quarter
general instruction (see Figure 2.2). After a sharp decline in the number of
vocational diplomas in the late 1980s, the numbers have been stabilising. The
recent creation of a vocational diploma (maturité professionnelle) should also pave
the way for the development of vocational curricula. At the same time, the
number of academic diplomas has been rising steadily.
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I.2.
6
Tertiary
Doctorat
5
Tertiary
The educational system in Switzerland (simplified)
3
Upper secondary
Figure 2.1.
THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN SWITZERLAND
Universities
Schools
preparing
students for
academic secondary diploma
Universities of
applied sciences
(UAS)
Diplomalevel
schools
Advanced training schools
Technical schools
Advanced vocational examinations
Vocational examinations
Vocational
secondary
diploma
Vocational training
Secondary school
Primary school
Pre-school
Lower
secondary
Continuing education
2
1
0
ISCED
Years
(International standard classification of education, ISCED)
Source: Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education.
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I.2.
THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN SWITZERLAND
Figure 2.2.
Upper secondary graduates by type of instruction and by gender
%
100
%
100
Vocational instruction
80
Men
80
Women
60
60
40
40
Total
General instruction
20
20
0
80/81
85/86
90/91
95/96
99/00
0
80/81
85/86
90/91
95/96 99/00
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
New types of secondary diplomas
In 1995, the Swiss Government and the cantons decided to reform the
general secondary school diploma (maturité gymnasiale). The new regulations
call for a single type of academic diploma (until then there had been five), a
reduction in the number of subjects and examinations, and the introduction
of a thesis requirement. These reforms should be fully operational by 2003.
Already in 1993, with the introduction of a vocational diploma (maturité
professionnelle), the Swiss Government and the cantons had expressed their
commitment to improving the overall conditions of vocational training. The
vocational diploma was based on practical training and enables young people
to take up study at a university of applied sciences (UAS). There are currently
five distinct vocational diplomas: technical, business, crafts, artistic and
technical/agricultural. Revision of the 1978 Vocational Training Act became
clearly necessary after the introduction of the vocational diploma and the
creation of universities of applied sciences.
Upper secondary school graduates have the opportunity to pursue their
studies at the tertiary level, the particular course depending on the type of
secondary education they have received (see Table 2.1).
Higher education
Higher education is also referred to as tertiary education. A substantial
amount of it is available in Switzerland. It is divided primarily into two areas
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I.2.
Table 2.1.
Upper secondary level
THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN SWITZERLAND
Access tracks to tertiary education
Tertiary level
Elementary Training Certificate
(Attestation de formation élémentaire)
Federal Capacity Certificate
(Certificat fédéral de capacité)
Advanced Vocational Examinations, Advanced Training Schools,
Technical Schools
Diploma from a diploma-level school
Advanced Vocational Examinations, Advanced Training Schools,
Technical Schools, Universities of applied sciences, training
tracks not regulated by the Confederation
Vocational Maturity Certificate
(Certificat de maturité professionnelle)
Universities of applied sciences, Advanced Training
Examinations, Advanced Training Schools, Technical Schools,
training tracks not regulated by the Confederation
Academic Maturity Certificate
(Certificat de maturité gymnasiale)
Universities, Universities of applied sciences (requires
completion of a year of practical internship), Teachers’ Colleges
Normal School Certificate
(Brevet d’Écoles Normales)
Teachers’ Colleges
Source: Science Com SA, Bern.
– that of the more academically-oriented higher education institutions (hautes
écoles) and that of advanced vocational training.
The higher education institutions comprise the universities (including
cantonal universities and federal institutes of technology) and the universities
of applied sciences. The realm of advanced vocational training is made up of
all other tertiary instruction tracks. It comprises advanced training schools,
including technical schools, vocational examinations and advanced
vocational examinations. Advanced vocational training in Switzerland
features a broad and diverse choice of private institutions.
During the 1999-2000 school year, 156 100 persons were enrolled in
tertiary instruction. Of them, 112 400, or over two-thirds, were enrolled in one
of the higher education institutions. The proportion of women in tertiary
education was 42%, the figure being lower in universities of applied sciences.
Continuing education
Continuing education seeks not only to update, deepen and broaden
existing knowledge, abilities and aptitudes, but to acquire and broaden new
knowledge, abilities and aptitudes as well. According to a study conducted
in 1999 and 2000 by the Swiss Federal Statistics Office (OFS), each year some
1.9 million adults take 2.7 million courses representing 123 million hours of
training. As compared with other countries, Switzerland is roughly average in
this respect, even though 39% of its population receives continuing training.
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I.2.
THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN SWITZERLAND
2.2. Shared responsibilities
Powers in the realm of education
In the spirit of “co-operative federalism”, the Confederation and the
cantons share powers in the realm of education. On the whole, the 26 cantons
and half-cantons enjoy great autonomy. This autonomy varies, however, by
type of institution and the level of studies within the Swiss education system
(see Figure 2.1).
At the pre-school (“kindergarten”) and compulsory schooling (primary
+ lower secondary) levels, the cantons have sole responsibility. Nevertheless,
the Confederation monitors compliance with the principles that all children
shall be entitled to primary education that meets certain standards of quality,
and that education shall be dispensed free of charge.
At the upper secondary level, the Confederation is responsible for
vocational training, and recognition of the relevant certificates – the Federal
Capacity Certificate and the Vocational Maturity Certificate – is handled at the
federal level.
General education at the upper secondary level, and in the gymnasia in
particular, is the responsibility of the cantons. It is the cantons that regulate
the contents of the examination (the Academic Maturity Certificate or maturité
gymnasiale) that marks the completion of these academically-oriented
secondary studies. The Confederation’s recognition or non-recognition of
these diplomas is governed by a Decree of 15 February 1995. The diplomas
certify that their holders possess the general knowledge and aptitudes they
need to undertake university-level studies. There are private schools, not
recognised by the Confederation, that prepare students directly for the Swiss
maturité examination.
Shared powers at the tertiary level
At the level of higher, or tertiary, education, powers are also shared (see
Figure 2.3). Under the new (1999) Constitution, the Confederation enacts
legislation governing advanced vocational training. The Confederation
therefore has responsibility both for advanced vocational training and for
universities of applied sciences. In addition, it has jurisdiction over the two
Federal Polytechnic Institutes, and over the promotion of research. For their
part, the cantons are responsible for their respective universities, of which there
are ten. The universities receive financial support from the Confederation.
Two new Constitutional articles are being prepared – one on education
generally, and the other on higher education institutions. Both seek primarily
to lay the foundations for closer co-operation between the Confederation and
the cantons.
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I.2.
Figure 2.3.
THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN SWITZERLAND
Political structures of Swiss universities and universities
of applied sciences (UAS)
DFI1
Cantons
CUS3
Confederation
Subordination
and basic
funding
CDIP4
Council UAS5
DFE2
Regulatory
power
2 federal institutes
of technology (EPF)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
7 UAS
Financial
support
10 universities
DFI: Dept. of Home Affairs.
DFE: Dept. of Economic Affairs.
CUS : Swiss University Conference.
CDIP: Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education.
Conseil UAS: Council for universities of applied sciences.
Source: Science Com SA, Bern.
Table 2.2 gives an overview of how powers in the realm of education are
divided in Switzerland.
Table 2.2.
Division of powers in the realm of education
Confederation
Compulsory schooling
Upper secondary: general education
Vocational training
R, E
Cantons
Communes/private
organisations
R
S
R, S, E
S
S, E
S
Tertiary: Advanced vocational training
R, E
S, (R)
S
UAS
R, E
(R), S, E
(S)
Cantonal universities
R, E
R, S
Federal institutes of technology
R, S
Notes:
Regulation (R): Power to make rules.
Encouragement (E): Subsidies to encourage various projects.
Supervisory authority (S): Primary responsibility and funding.
Letters in parentheses signify an exception or an exceptional case.
Source: CUS, Swiss University Conference.
2.3. Educational attainment
Educational level of the population
Looking at the educational level of the resident population by age,
region and gender (see Figures 2.4 and 2.5), it can be seen that four-fifths of
the Swiss population have completed some form of post-compulsory schooling.
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I.2.
THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN SWITZERLAND
Figure 2.4.
Educational levels in Switzerland, 2000
Tertiary level
Upper secondary level
Compulsory schooling
%
100
%
100
80
80
60
60
40
40
20
20
0
0
25-34
Total
Total
(25-64)
55-64
GermanFrenchItalianspeaking speaking
speaking
Switzerland Switzerland Switzerland
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
Figure 2.5.
Swiss educational levels: An international comparison, 1998
Tertiary level A (ISCED 5A)
Tertiary level B (ISCED 5B)
Post-upper-secondary level (ISCED 4)
Upper secondary level (ISCED 3)
Below upper secondary level
%
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
USA
Germany Switzerland
Japan
Austria
France
United
Kingdom
Italy
Source: OECD 2000.
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Most have completed an upper secondary vocational training course. Only one
out of five persons holds a tertiary-level diploma.
As shown clearly in Figure 2.2, three-quarters of upper secondary school
graduates received vocational training and one-quarter engaged in general
studies, leading in many cases to an Academic Maturity Certificate. It is
interesting to note that the percentage of these certificates depends heavily
on the canton of instruction. In 1999, while the proportion was roughly 18% for
Switzerland as a whole, it was nearly 32% in Geneva but less than 10% in the
half-canton of Obwald and in the canton of Uri (see Annex Table 2).
Age is also a significant factor as regards the level of education. Persons
below 45 show a sharply higher educational level than older generations: only
12% of young people aged 25 to 34 have received no post-compulsory
schooling, as opposed to roughly 38% of pensioners. Despite clear strides
forward, women are still under-represented at the tertiary level.
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ISBN 92-64-10308-2
Reviews of National Policies for Education
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
© OECD 2003
PART I
Chapter 3
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
Swiss tertiary education is a dual system comprising universities
and colleges of higher education. The Confederation regulates
advanced vocational training, including seven colleges of higher
education, and has supervisory authority for the two federal
polytechnic institutes and four federal institutes of technology.
Th e cantons have responsibilities for the ten cantonal
universities. The Confederation has jurisdiction over colleges of
higher education in most fields while the cantons have
jurisdiction in fields such as teacher training, health care, etc.
Switz erland has a strong base in research, which is a
Confederation responsibility. The responsibility for continuing
education is divided among different federal departments and is
governed by various federal and cantonal laws.
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I
n Switzerland, tertiary education is highly diverse and encompasses several
different types of institutions, including advanced vocational training schools,
universities of applied sciences, cantonal universities and federal institutes of
technology. These various institutions are generally grouped into two broad
categories: 1) those that dispense advanced vocational training; and 2) higher
education institutions (cantonal universities, federal institutes of technology
and universities of applied sciences).
3.1. Advanced vocational training
Advanced vocational training provides a whole range of courses in two
types of institution, one offering initial training and the other vocational
proficiency courses for upper-secondary graduates. The first group are the
advanced training schools, including technical schools. The second group
prepares students for vocational and advanced vocational examinations.
In the current Vocational Training Act dating back to 1978, advanced
vocational training institutions are a marginal feature under the general
heading of “continuing education”. The Act was drafted at a time when the
policy focus was elsewhere. Since then, however, higher education has
evolved under the influence of personal initiative and federal efforts to
broaden its scope.
A host of institutions
Advanced vocational training is characterised by strong specialisation
and a host of institutions, some of them very small. The institutions differ in
terms of the type and level of training provision, their educational mission,
entrance requirements, length of course, the authorities (cantonal/federal) to
which they report, and their sources of funding.
Of more than 300 institutions providing advanced vocational training,
around half are in the public sector. One-third are private but subsidised,
while the remainder are private and unsubsidised. Qualifications may be
awarded by the canton, the school, associations or other institutions, and
many of them are recognised at either federal or cantonal level.
In 1999, 27 000 advanced vocational qualifications were awarded. The
figure has been rising sharply but steadily since 1980 (see Figure 3.1). The great
majority of these qualifications – two-thirds – are awarded to male students.
This predominantly masculine enrolment is particularly high on technical
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Figure 3.1.
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND
Trends in advanced vocational training qualifications awarded
in federally regulated courses, 1980-99
As a % of upper secondary graduates
%
20
Advanced training school qualifications
Technical school qualifications
Federal qualifications
Federal proficiency certificates
15
10
5
0
1980
1985
1990
1995
1999
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
courses. Another feature of advanced vocational training is the higher
graduation rate in German-speaking regions than in the rest of Switzerland
(see Figure 3.2).
One very important point is that a number of advanced vocational training
institutions have acquired the status of haute école spécialisée, or university of
applied sciences (UAS). Institutions fall into the following categories:
●
Advanced training schools, including advanced technical schools.
Advanced training school courses cover business management, catering
and hotel management, tourism, business computing, forestry, and
droguerie or over-the-counter pharmacy. Technical colleges provide courses
on computing, mechanics, electronics, photography, multimedia and
construction. Full-time courses last two years, while part-time courses last
three. A combination of theory and practice, they prepare students for posts
in middle management. Qualifications are recognised at federal level.
●
Vocational examinations. These lead to a proficiency certificate and
establish whether candidates have the skills and knowledge to take up
management posts or occupations with higher-than-average requirements.
The certificate is recognised at federal level. Awards of federal proficiency
certificates have risen sharply, quadrupling even since 1985. Advanced
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Figure 3.2.
Advanced vocational training qualifications by gender,
language area and type, 1999
French-speaking Switzerland and Ticino
Advanced training qualifications
(not federally regulated courses)
German-speaking Switzerland
Federal proficiency certificates
Federal qualifications
Technical school qualifications
Advanced training school qualifications
Switzerland as a whole
Women
Men
Total
50
%
40
30
20
10
0
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
%
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
vocational examinations are mainly for craft industries, industry,
technology, management and agriculture. 31% of these certificates are
awarded in the service sector, 25% in management and 12% in metallurgy
and machine engineering. 32% are awarded to women.
●
42
Advanced vocational examinations. Successful students are entitled by the
federal authorities to use the title of maître (master) or the word diplômé
(qualified) with regard to their profession. The examination establishes
whether candidates have the skills and knowledge to manage an enterprise
independently or meet high standards in their profession. Advanced
vocational examinations are mainly for craft industries, industry,
technology, management and agriculture. Most students enrolled on
preparatory courses for advanced vocational examinations, as for
vocational examinations, are already in employment. The number of
advanced vocational examinations has risen by some 60% over the past ten
years, but appears to be levelling out. The percentage of women graduates
is still particularly low. From 8.5% in 1985 it rose to 15% in 1999. The
breakdown of these qualifications is as follows: 27% are awarded in the
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service sector, 19% in management, 12% in sales and 11% in metallurgy and
machine engineering.
●
Other tertiary-level qualifications. These courses are not regulated at federal
level. They accordingly cover all advanced vocational courses not referred to
above, such as pastoral studies and advanced social work courses.
3.2. Switzerland’s two-track system: universities and universities
of applied sciences
The system of universities and universities of applied sciences
When a number of advanced training schools (écoles spécialisées supérieures)
were converted into universities of applied sciences (UAS, hautes écoles
spécialisées), the Swiss system of higher education institutions became a two-track
one, comprising universities – including cantonal universities and federal
institutes of technology – and universities of applied sciences (see Figure 3.3).
Figure 3.3.
The two-track system of Swiss higher education system
Universities of applied sciences
ISCED
level 5
Universities and federal institutes of technology
PhD
ISCED
level
5+6
(PhD)
Graduate studies
ISCED
level 5
Diploma/licentiate
Graduate
studies
Doctoral
studies
Diploma/licentiate
University of applied
sciences
University
Upper secondary certificate1
Upper secondary certificate2
Apprenticeship
Professional school
General education
(Gymnasium/gymnase)
Basic school (9 years)
1. Upper secondary certificate in
professional education
(Berufsmaturität/maturité professionnelle)
2. Upper secondary certificate in general
education
(gymnasiale maturität/maturité gymnasiale)
Source: ISCED: International Standard Classification of Education (1997).
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Powers
Powers in the realm of higher education institutions are shared between
the cantons and the Confederation. Ten cantons each possess their own
cantonal university. In addition, a canton or group of cantons may have primary
responsibility for a university of applied sciences. Under the Constitution, the
Confederation plays a dual role in the administration of the higher education
institutions: first, it subsidises cantonal universities and universities of applied
sciences; and second, it is responsible for the institutions of the domain of
federal institutes of technology (ETH domain). With regard to universities of
applied sciences, the Confederation is empowered to regulate the following
fields of study: technical and architectural studies, economics and
administration, agriculture, and applied arts.
In practice, the various colleges and universities are run by a network of
cantonal, federal or joint bodies (see Figure 3.4).
Figure 3.4.
Organisation of Swiss universities and UAS: Who does what?
Swiss Science
and Technology
Council
Cantons
Swiss
Government
Federal Department
of Home Affairs
Swiss
Conference
of the Cantonal
Ministers of
Education
UAS
Council
Coordinates
Universities
of Applied
Sciences
Conference
of the UAS
ETH
Board
Swiss
University
Conference
Cantonal
universities
Federal Department
of Economic Affairs
Swiss Science
Agency
State
Secretariat
Coordinates
Federal
Commission
for the UAS
Federal Office
for Education
and Science
Federal Office
for Professional
Education and
Technology
Subsidies
Federal
Institutes of
Technology
Federal
research
institutes
Supervision,
subsidies
Rectors’ Conference of
the Swiss Universities
Source: Department of Home Affairs.
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Bodies subsidiary to the Federal Council
Swiss Science and Technology Council. The Swiss Science and Technology
Council (Conseil suisse de la science et de la technologie, CSST, www.swtr.ch) is the
Federal Council’s advisory body for all policy issues involving science, higher
education, research and technology. Its members represent no particular
discipline, institution, or organisation, but act on their own behalf and in
accordance with their experience and individual conscience.
As a mouthpiece for science, it formulates general concepts for
submission to the Federal Council, along with proposed measures for the
implementation thereof. On its own initiative or at the request of the Federal
Council, the Federal Department of Home Affairs or the Federal Department of
Economic Affairs, it issues opinions on particular projects and problems
involving policies for science, training, research and technology.
Federal Commission for universities of applied sciences. T h e F e d e r a l
Commission for universities of applied sciences (Commission fédérale des hautes
écoles spécialisées, CFUAS, www.bbt.admin.ch/fachhoch/efhk/f/) was instituted by the
Federal Council for the purpose of advising the operational authorities on any
issues involving universities of applied sciences. It lays the groundwork for
decisions of the Federal Council and the Department of Economic Affairs relating,
inter alia, to UAS certification and quality management. Accordingly, it provides
advisory opinions in response to inquiries concerning the creation and
management of UAS, the awarding of federal subsidies, UAS compliance with
required conditions, requests for recognition of UAS diplomas, admissions
requirements, etc.
Bodies subsidiary to the Federal Department of Home Affairs
Swiss Science Agency. The Swiss Science Agency (Groupement de la
science et de la recherche, GSR, www.gwf-gsr.ch) of the Federal Department of
Home Affairs is made up of a State Secretariat, an Office of Space Affairs and
the Federal Office for Education and Science. In co-operation with the other
relevant federal entities, including the Federal Office for Professional
Education and Technology, the Agency deals with all national and
international policy matters in the realms of science, research, education and
university instruction.
State Secretariat for Science and Research. One of the tasks of the State
Secretariat for Science and Research is to prepare and implement decisions
conducive to a coherent policy in the realm of science, research and university
instruction. It must also maintain contacts with foreign partners and develop
international relations, with the European Union in particular. The State
Secretariat is headed by a Secretary of State, one of whose responsibilities is to
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head the policy sector for science, research and university instruction. He
advises the head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs regarding all policy
matters in the areas of science, research, training and university instruction.
Federal Office for Education and Science. The Federal Office for Education
and Science (Office fédéral de l’éducation et de la science, OFES, www.admin.ch/bbw)
is the Confederation’s competent authority for national and international
issues involving education in general, university instruction and research.
Inter alia, the Office has responsibility for implementing policies in the realms of
science, research, university instruction and education. It also lends
encouragement to cantonal and other universities, cantonal projects, agencies
that encourage research, research institutes and related scientific services. It
recognises cantonal “maturity certificates” (certificats de maturité) and foreign
diplomas, sets up federal maturity examinations and awards training subsidies.
ETH Board. The ETH Board (Conseil des écoles polytechniques fédérales, CEPF,
www.ethrat.ch/index.fr.html) administers the domain of federal institutes of
technology, which comprise the two federal institutes of technology, in
Lausanne (EPFL) and in Zurich (ETHZ), along with four research institutes [the
Paul Scherrer Institute (Institut Paul Scherrer, IPS), the Federal Institute for
Woodland, Snow and Landscape Research (Institut fédéral de recherches sur la forêt,
la neige et le paysage, FNP), the Federal Laboratory for Materials Testing and
Research (Laboratoire fédéral d’essai des matériaux, LFEM), and the Federal Institute
for Water Supplies, Waste Water Treatment and Water Resources Protection
(Institut fédéral pour l’aménagement, l’épuration et la protection des eaux, IFAEPE)]. The
Council’s main responsibilities are to co-ordinate and develop strategic plans,
appoint teaching staff and senior officials, and allocate resources.
Since 1 January 2000, the ETH Board has been concluding annual
agreements and overall budgets with each of the six institutes. Each
establishment is then free to use those resources as it sees fit. For its part,
every four years the Board prepares a report to the Federal Council on the
institutes’ activities.
Bodies subsidiary to the Federal Department of Economic Affairs
Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology. T h e Fe d e ra l
Office for Professional Education and Technology (Office fédéral de la formation
professionnelle et de la technologie, OFFT, www.admin.ch/bbt) is the body that
implements federal government policy in the areas of vocational and
advanced vocational training, universities of applied sciences, technology and
innovation. Its primary strategic missions are to keep vocational training up to
date, integrate universities of applied sciences into the Swiss system of higher
education institutions, encourage applied research and development, and set
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up networks of excellence in promising sectors of the economy. It acts through
the universities of applied sciences and the Commission for Technology and
Innovation (Commission pour la technologie et l’innovation, CTI).
Bodies common to the Confederation and the cantons
Swiss University Conference. The Swiss University Conference (Conférence
universitaire suisse, CUS, www.cus.ch) is a joint body in which the Confederation
and the cantons work together on policy for the universities. Its membership
includes the ministers of education of cantons that have universities,
representatives of the other cantons, the State Secretary for Science and
Research and the President of the ETH Board. Since 1 January 2001, the
Conference has enjoyed real decision-making power in a number of areas.
These decisions cover all Swiss universities and may involve the length of
studies, recognition of previous studies, financial support for national
projects, recognition of institutions and courses of study, and evaluation of
teaching and research.
Accreditation and Quality Assurance Body. In 2001, a new independent
Accreditation and Quality Assurance Body (Organe d’accréditation et d’assurance
qualité, OAQ, www.oaq.ch) came into being in Switzerland. The body’s tasks are
to set quality assurance-related requirements and to check compliance on a
regular basis. It makes proposals for nation-wide implementation of a
procedure for certifying institutions wishing to obtain accreditation for
themselves or for one of their particular courses of study. In the light of
directives of the Swiss University Conference, it verifies the legitimacy of
accreditation. It performs its tasks on behalf of the Swiss University Conference.
Bodies subsidiary to the cantons
Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education. Bringing together all
of the country’s cantonal ministers of education, the Swiss Conference of
Cantonal Ministers of Education (Conférence suisse des directeurs cantonaux de
l’instruction publique, CDIP, www.cdip.ch) has overall responsibility for education
policies at the primary and secondary levels, and, with respect to the tertiary
level, for professions not regulated at the federal level and for universities of
applied sciences subject to cantonal authority. The Conference and the
Confederation work together in particular on matters concerning vocational
training and universities of applied sciences, recognition of secondary school
diplomas, aid to universities, development of scholarship programmes,
specialised instruction, the promotion of culture and sport as well as public
health. With regard to certain particular issues, it consults with the
Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Public Health (Conférence des directeurs
cantonaux des affaires sanitaires, CDS), the Conference of Cantonal Ministers of
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Economic Affairs (Conférence des directeurs cantonaux de l’économie publique,
CDEP) and the Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Social Affairs (Conférence
des directeurs cantonaux des affaires sociales, CDAS).
Council for universities of applied sciences. The Council for universities of
applied sciences (Conseil des hautes écoles spécialisées, CUAS) was created
in 1995 by the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education. It is
comprised by the ministers of education of the cantons responsible for
universities of applied sciences. Jointly with the Confederation, this
intercantonal body performs development and co-ordination functions. It
regularly holds joint sessions with the Swiss University Conference.
Executive bodies in universities and universities of applied sciences
Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities. The Rectors’ Conference of
the Swiss Universities (Conférence des recteurs des universités suisses, CRUS,
www.crus.ch) was founded in 1904 by Switzerland’s universities. Since 2001,
the Conference has had new by-laws. Its mission, carried out through periodic
sessions, is to deal with all matters requiring mutual agreement or joint
positions. Primarily, these involve curricula, syllabi, examination rules,
diploma requirements and harmonisation of higher education admissions
requirements. Pursuant to the Co-operation Agreement, the Conference
performs its duties on behalf of the Swiss University Conference.
Swiss Conference of universities of applied sciences. The Swiss Conference
of universities of applied sciences (Conférence suisse des hautes écoles
spécialisées, CSUAS) brings together the administrators of the seven
universities of applied sciences. An independent body, it harmonises the UAS’
development at the operational level. It also works with the Confederation on
technical matters via the Federal Office for Professional Education and
Technology. Through its representation on the Council for universities of
applied sciences, the Conference can advocate its position in that forum and
carry out particular mandates for the Council.
Legal foundations
Specific laws and legal instruments regulate the creation, organisation,
operation and administration of the various institutions of Switzerland’s
higher education system.
Aid to Universities Act
Known formally as the Federal Act on Aid to Universities and Co-operation
in Higher Education (Loi fédérale sur l’aide aux universités et la coopération dans le
domaine des hautes écoles, LAU), this law of 8 October 1999 does more than just
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govern subsidies to cantonal universities. Inter alia, it delegates decisionmaking powers in certain areas to the Swiss University Conference. It also
calls for the creation of an independent accreditation and quality assurance
body. This new Act altered the mechanism for subsidising universities. Basic
subsidies are calculated according to services provided. The number of students
is an indicator of the level of service. The system is predicated on the principle
that funding should “follow” students. The Act also provides for “project-related
contributions”, which also corresponds to a principle that is one of the pillars of
the legislation – that of awarding priority to excellence. This funding should
encourage innovation and co-operation amongst universities.
The federal parliament deliberately restricted the validity of the Act to a
maximum of two subsidy periods, or eight years (i.e. to 2007). This limitation,
which effectively applies time pressure, should be conducive to further
innovation, in particular on the basis of the new Constitutional article on
higher education institutions.
Federal Institutes of Technology Act
The Federal Institutes of Technology Act (Loi sur les écoles polytechniques
fédérales, Loi sur les EPF), which entered into force on 1 February 1993,
underscored the autonomy and responsibilities of these six establishments,
which enjoy full control over their own management resources.
The Act provides a very succinct statement of the objectives pursued
by the Confederation, and of the missions of the six institutes of
technology. It states that the scientific disciplines to be covered by the
institutes are engineering, natural sciences, architecture, mathematics and
related fields.
The Act also guarantees that the federal institutes of technology and
research institutes shall be autonomous in their administration and
operations. On 19 December 1997, the Federal Council made that autonomy a
reality with a view to management by service mandates and independent
accounting; since 1 January 1999, the institutes have been solely responsible
for their buildings (investment and upkeep). Insofar as the legal foundations
for this are partially insufficient, and because, in addition, the issue of the
institutes’ autonomy is once again under discussion, the Act is being revised.
The aim of this revision is to update the organisational structure to bring
it in line with today’s requirements, and to lay the legal foundations for the
institutes to take part in private or publicly-owned undertakings in order to
promote technology transfers, which are vital for the Swiss economy.
Moreover, the principles of the new regime for federal employees are to be
incorporated into the legislation governing the federal institutes of technology
in a manner tailored to their needs.
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Universities of applied sciences Act
In respect of fields within the Confederation’s jurisdiction, the
universities of applied sciences are governed by the Federal Universities of
applied sciences Act (Loi fédérale sur les hautes écoles spécialisées, LUAS) of 6 October
1995. Under the Act, the Confederation must encourage the creation and
development of UAS in the fields of industry, arts and crafts, services, agriculture
and forestry economics, in particular by regulating the schools’ tasks, recognising
their diplomas and providing them with financial support. Together with the
cantons, the Confederation facilitates the division of tasks and co-operation
across the broad spectrum of universities of applied sciences, at the national and
regional levels. It takes account of international co-operation.
It is this legal foundation that the cantons have used to enact their own
laws governing the creation and management of universities of applied
sciences, whether they fall under the regulatory authority of the
Confederation or the cantons.
Cantonal laws governing universities
In recent years, all of the cantons having a university have overhauled the
relevant legislation, regulations and by-laws, either wholly or in part. These
provisions incorporate – albeit to varying extents – the principles already
formulated in the early 1990s, by the Council for Science in particular, that the
required increase in efficiency in university administration and management,
along with the attendant spirit of enterprise, is possible only if universities are
afforded greater freedom of action.
Clearly, the universities’ autonomy and individual responsibility are being
strengthened by these legislative amendments in the realms of university
organisation and administration (consolidation and professionalisation of
management), personnel (recruitment, promotion and compensation) and
finance (autonomous internal allocation of financial resources).
Intercantonal Concordat and Co-operation Agreement
In order to give the Swiss University Conference real decision-making
authority, the Confederation delegated certain powers to it in the Aid to
Universities Act. For their part, the parliaments of university cantons took
similar action by concluding a university co-operation concordat on 9 December
1999. This paved the way for an agreement between the Confederation and the
university cantons on co-operation in the realm of universities. It was signed on
14 December 2000 by the Federal Council and the relevant cantonal ministers of
education. The Convention instituted the Swiss University Conference and the
Accreditation and Quality Assurance Body; it officially recognised and
delegated certain tasks to the Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities.
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Intercantonal University Agreement
The Intercantonal University Agreement (Accord intercantonal universitaire,
AIU) regulates intercantonal admission to universities on the basis of equal
treatment, and it sets the compensation that the cantons pay to the university
cantons. In addition, it provides for implementation of a co-ordinated Swiss
university policy.
Intercantonal Agreement on universities of applied sciences
The Intercantonal Agreement on universities of applied sciences (Accord
intercantonal sur les hautes écoles spécialisées, AUAS) regulates admissions to
the UAS on an intercantonal level and sets the contributions to be paid to
UAS authorities by the cantons in which students reside. The purpose of the
Agreement is thus to promote balance in the financial burden between the
cantons, along with free access to studies, and to optimise the training on
offer from the UAS. In addition, it helps harmonise policy for higher
education institutions.
Universities
There are three types of universities in Switzerland: cantonal
universities, federal institutes of technology, and other educational
institutions classified as universities (see Map 3.1).
Map 3.1.
Cantonal universities
ETH Domain
EPF Lausanne
ETH Zurich
IPS, Villigen
Neuchâtel
FNP, Birmenstorf
LFEM, Dubendorf
IFAEPE, Dubendorf Lausanne
Swiss universities
Other universities
Basel
Villigen
Birmenstorf
Zurich
St. Gallen
Dubendorf
Luzern
Bern
Sion
Institute for Advanced Studies in
Public Administration, Lausanne
Institut universitaire
Kurt Bösch, Sion
Fribourg
Geneva
Graduate Institute of International
Studies, Geneva
College of Secondary Education,
St. Gallen
Lugano
Schweizerische Zentralstelle für
die Weiterbildung von Mittelschullehrpersonen, Luzern
Source: Department of Home Affairs.
Cantonal universities
There are ten cantonal universities in Switzerland: those of Basel, Bern,
Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, Luzern, Neuchâtel, St. Gallen, Italian-speaking
Switzerland and Zurich. Most of them have been evolving over a number of
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centuries in step with societal and economic needs, always in harmony with a
humanist ideal.
The oldest Swiss university is that of Basel. It was founded in 1460 and
has thus been in existence for over half a millennium. The Universities of
Italian-speaking Switzerland and Luzern are the most recent. The former was
created in 1996 and comprises three faculties – architecture, economics and
communication sciences. In Luzern, while the Faculty of Theology has been in
existence since the 16th century, the school was not classified as a university
until May 2000.
Federal institutes of technology
Since the mid-19th century, the Confederation has played an active
role in national science policy. While it began by creating its own
polytechnic in Zurich, the Confederation now has six schools comprising
the federal institutes of technology: the two federal institutes of
technology, in Lausanne (EPFL) and in Zurich (ETHZ), and four research
institutes – the Paul Scherrer Institute, the Federal Institute for Woodland,
Snow and Landscape Research, the Federal Laboratory for Materials Testing
and Research, and the Federal Institute for Water Supplies, Waste Water
Treatment and Water Resources Protection.
Other higher education institutions
In addition to the cantonal universities and federal institutes of
technology, Switzerland has five other educational institutions that may be
considered universities insofar as they meet the federal subsidy requirements
laid down in Article 11 of the Aid to Universities Act.
These institutions are the Graduate Institute of International Studies
(Institut universitaire de hautes études internationales, IUHEI), the Institute for
Advanced Studies in Public Administration (Institut de hautes études en
administration publique, IDHEAP), the Institut Universitaire Kurt Bösch (IUKB), the
College of Secondary Education of St. Gallen and the Schweizerische Zentralstelle
für die Weiterbildung von Mittelschullehrpersonen.
Admissions requirements
Generally, the requirements for admission to Swiss universities include
being at least 18 years old, mastering the language of instruction and
possessing an Academic Maturity Certificate or equivalent secondary diploma
recognised by the university. Such diplomas are obtained after a general course
of upper secondary school studies. On an exceptional basis, and depending on
the university, other criteria may be possible (e.g. dossier, examination,
secondary diploma not recognised by the federal examining board, etc.).
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Admission to medical and veterinary schools has been restricted to a
limited number of places in the Universities of Basel, Bern, Fribourg and
Zurich because of increasing enrolments and a lack of teaching capacity.
Who does what?
Although each cantonal university has its own particularities, most have
similar structures. As a rule, they have faculties of law, natural and exact
sciences, economics and social sciences, humanities and letters. There are
special cases, however. For example, not all of the universities have faculties
of medicine, theology and architecture. Likewise, the psychology and
education sciences department of the University of Geneva and the
communications sciences department of the University of Italian-speaking
Switzerland are the only ones of their kind. There are other examples as well.
In line with the spirit of the times, the new universities of Italian-speaking
Switzerland and of Luzern have a more “targeted”, and less “universal”,
structure. The University of St. Gallen also has this type of targeted structure,
with courses in the fields of law, economics and political science (Table 3.1).
On the whole, the federal institutes of technology in Lausanne and Zurich
are focused on the exact sciences, technical sciences and architecture. They
have, however, developed special areas of competence, such as natural
Table 3.1.
Fields of study in Swiss universities
Who offers what? Overview of the main fields of study
Uni
BS
Uni
BE
Uni
FR
Uni
GE
Uni
LS
Uni
LU
Theology
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
Law
●
●
●
●
●
●
Economics
●
●
●
●
●
Social and political science
●
●
●
●
●
Psychology and pedagogy
●
●
●
●
●
Philosophy, languages, literature,
ethnology
●
●
●
●
●
●
x
History
●
●
●
●
●
●
x
Exact and natural sciences
●
●
●
●
●
x
Medicine and pharmacy
●
●
●1
●
●
Fields of study
Architecture and engineering
●
●
Uni
TI
Uni
NE
Uni
SG
Uni
ZH
●
●
●
x
●
●
●
●
x
●
●
●
●
x
●
x
●
x
●
●
x
●
●
●
●
●1, 2
●
●1
EPFL ETHZ
●
x
●
●
●
●
●
● Major.
x Minor.
1. First cycle only.
2. First year of study only.
Source: Science Com SA, Bern.
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sciences and engineering in Zurich and microtechnics in Lausanne. In order to
increase the selection of course offerings, there are a number of co-operative
programmes between the universities and the federal institutes of technology.
Particular aspects of Swiss universities
Rising enrolments. In the winter semester of 2000, nearly 100 000 students
were enrolled in Swiss universities – a nearly 60% rise from 1980 (see
Figure 3.5). Of all the students enrolled in 2000, just under 20 000, or nearly
20%, were first-year students. Dividing this number of first-year students
in 2000 by the aggregate permanent resident population of the same age (21)
yields the proportion of young people embarking upon university studies,
which comes to nearly 20% (see Figure 3.6). A majority of students were
enrolled in a faculty of human and social sciences (see Figure 3.7).
Figure 3.5.
University enrolments by gender
Women
Men
100 000
80 000
60 000
40 000
20 000
0
1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
While the proportions of male and female students are not yet equal,
they are getting close. While in 1980 nearly 70% of students were male, the
proportion of men dropped to “only” 55% in 2000. Other parameters also help
determine whether or not young people go to university. For example, a
student’s social background plays a decisive role (see Figure 3.8).
Foreign students account for roughly one-fifth of total university
enrolments (see Figure 3.9). This proportion has varied only slightly
since 1980. Three-quarters of these students hold European passports.
Seventy per cent of the foreign students have come to Switzerland especially
to study, while the remaining 30% were already living in the country and
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Figure 3.6.
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND
Per cent of young people beginning university studies by gender
%
20
Men
15
Total
Women
10
0
1985
1980
1990
1995
2000
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
Figure 3.7.
Enrolments by gender and field of study, 2000
Women
Exact and
natural sciences
Economics
Human and
social sciences
Men
Law
Technical
sciences
Medicine
and pharmacy
Interdisciplinary
and other
Total
(The dimensions of the circles are proportional to enrolments)
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
attended school there. The proportion of foreign university students tends to
be higher in French- and Italian-speaking Switzerland than in Germanspeaking parts of the country.
On average, it takes six years for a Swiss university student to obtain a
diploma or bachelor’s degree, although the length of time varies by field of
study. While a student of human sciences will take nearly seven years, a
student of economics will require less than five and a half (see Figure 3.10). In
any given field, male and female students will take practically the same
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Figure 3.8.
Students’ background by parents’ educational level, 1995 and 2000
Educational level
Tertiary level
Of male students’ parents
(in 1995)
Upper secondary level
Compulsory schooling
Of female students’ parents
(in 1995)
Of the general population
(in 2000)
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
Figure 3.9.
Foreign students in Swiss universities, by field of study, 2000
Foreign students
Exact and
natural sciences
Economics
Human and
social sciences
Swiss students
Law
Technical
sciences
Medicine
and pharmacy
Interdisciplinary
and other
Total
(The dimensions of the circles are proportional to enrolments)
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
number of semesters to complete their studies. Overall, however, the average
length of studies is slightly longer for women than for men (at 6.3, versus 5.9,
years). This is due primarily to the fact that nearly 50% of all female students
are enrolled in human and social sciences, where studies are longer, whereas
only a quarter of male students are engaged in that type of studies.
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Figure 3.10. Duration of studies in Swiss universities, by gender
and field of study, 2000
Total
Women
Men
Human and social sciences
Economics
Law
Exact and natural sciences
Medicine and pharmacy
Technical sciences
Total
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Years
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
Structure of studies
University studies are generally divided into a first and a second cycle.
The first cycle – which varies in length, depending on the school and field of
study, from two to six semesters; as a rule, it lasts four semesters – is generally
more structured than the second. In other words, the curriculum is regulated
more strictly, and student achievement is tested more regularly. The first cycle
is an introduction to the chosen field of study, conveying basic knowledge and
methodology valid for the entire field, irrespective of subsequent
specialisation. In many cases, it also involves selection. The second cycle
generally lasts four semesters as well and imparts more extensive knowledge
of the field in question, and it often involves an initial specialisation.
Theoretically, university studies culminate after eight semesters or four years
in the award of a bachelor’s degree or a diploma.
The number of examinations varies from one school and field of study to
another. The first cycle generally ends with an examination that must be
passed for admission to the second cycle. Successful completion of the final
examination qualifies a student for a degree.
Proportion of university graduates
In 2000, nearly 10 000 students received a diploma or a bachelor’s degree.
This represents an 80% rise from 1980, and it also corresponds to a proportion
of university graduates that is slightly over 10% of the population (see
Figure 3.11) – calculated as the ratio of university graduates in a given year to
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Figure 3.11. University graduates as per cent of Swiss population,
by gender, 1980-2000
%
12
Men
10
Total
8
6
4
Women
2
1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
the permanent resident population of 27-year-olds. The number of doctorates
awarded in 2000 was slightly over 2 700 – an increase of about 55% over 1980.
Success rates and dropping out
Observations conducted in 2000 on a cohort of students undertaking
university studies in 1990 show that the success rate is approximately 70%.
This figure represents the proportion of the cohort, to date, having completed
their studies by receiving a bachelor’s degree or a diploma. The success rate is
slightly lower for women than for men, at 64% versus 72%, stemming in great
part from the fact that women are highly represented in human and social
sciences, where the success rate is least high (see Figure 3.12).
An indicator of the difficulty of entering into work, and of the attractiveness
of university degrees in the labour market, the unemployment rate of new
graduates has been declining steadily over the past ten years (see Figure 3.13).
Even so, the entry level for people beginning to work varies from one field
of study to another. For many graduates, their education does not end with an
initial university degree; on the contrary, they continue their studies in pursuit
of a higher degree or seek other – often vocational – training outside the
system of higher education institutions. Such is the case for a majority of
theologians, jurists and medical graduates.
The situation is very different for graduates in the social and human
sciences, who tend not to be oriented towards clearly defined occupational fields,
and there are practically no related professions that are regulated at the federal
level. These graduates must find their own way in some occupational category.
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Figure 3.12.
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND
Success rates, by gender and field of study, 1990 cohort
Women
Men
Total
Human and social sciences
Economics
Law
Exact and natural sciences
Medicine and pharmacy
Technical sciences
Inter-disciplinary and others
Total
0
20
40
60
80
100
%
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
Figure 3.13.
University graduates in the labour market
Job status of recent university graduates...
... and unemployment rates in %
Men
Employed
Unemployed
Not seeking employment
Women
Total
10
5 000
8
4 000
6
3 000
2 000
4
1 000
2
0
0
1993
1995
1997
1999
1993
1995
1997
1999
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
Another option for post-graduate training open to all university
graduates is to become a teaching assistant in a UAS or university; such posts
are generally given to students planning to write a doctoral dissertation. On
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the whole, roughly one-fifth of new graduates remain at university after
obtaining their first degree. Among graduates in the natural sciences, the
proportion is far greater still.
It is also interesting to note that in response to the question “Do you
think that your job matches your training from the standpoint of being able to
use your knowledge or your abilities?”, over 60% of graduates responded “yes”,
25% “more or less”, and the remaining 15% “no” or “not really”. This question
was asked in connection with a 1999 survey of new graduates by the Federal
Statistical Office. The response gauges new graduates’ subjective perceptions
of their jobs relative to the qualifications they obtained at school.
University staff
In 20 00 , Sw i tze rland’s u nivers ities e mployed a staff of s o me
45 000 people, corresponding to roughly 26 000 full-time equivalents. Of these,
10% were professors and 35% were administrative and technical staff (see
Figure 3.14). The remaining positions were filled by other faculty members,
Figure 3.14.
Swiss university staff, 2000
Professors
Other faculty
Teaching and scientific assistants
Administrative and technical staff
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
and by teaching and scientific assistants. These last two categories belong to
what is known as the corps intermédiaire, or middle-level teaching staff. The
former is also sometimes known as the “upper middle-level teaching staff”
(corps intermédiaire supérieur) and comprises privatdocents, instructors,
lecturers, guest professors and teaching and research fellows. The category of
teaching and scientific assistants is sometimes called the “lower middle-level
teaching staff” (corps intermédiaire inférieur).
A 1997 study profiling middle-level teaching staff in the fields of biology,
history and business administration shows that these people are active
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primarily in research and teaching. On average, lower middle-level teaching
staff devote half of their time to research. In comparison, the average upper
middle-level teacher devotes more time to teaching.
Lower middle-level teachers are considered still in training. They
themselves view their status as temporary and are consequently more willing
to accept low wages. In some fields, the low levels of compensation diminishes
the appeal to graduate students of middle-level teaching positions.
In contrast, upper middle-level teachers consider that they have
completed their training period. On average, they are 45 years old and have
been working for over 13 years. As a result, many of them hold long-term
appointments in a university.
The percentage of women on the teaching staff of Swiss universities is
low. In 2000, only 8% of professors were women (see Figure 3.15). Even so, the
percentage has almost quadrupled since 1985, when it was scarcely more than
2%. In all, women accounted for 35% of the staff of Swiss universities in 2000.
The highest proportion was for administrative and technical personnel, where
women had attained parity with men.
Figure 3.15. Gender balance of Swiss university staff in full-time
equivalents, 2000
Women
Men
10 000
8 000
6 000
4 000
2 000
0
Professors
Other
faculty
Teaching and
scientific assistants
Administrative and
technical staff
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
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Universities of applied sciences
When the universities of applied sciences Act entered into force on
6 October 1995 (see page 50), the Federal Council approved the creation of
seven universities of applied sciences. This authorisation was for a limited
amount of time, expiring at the end of 2003. It was subject to specifications for
the multi-stage introduction of a system of UAS (see Map 3.2).
Map 3.2.
Switzerland’s universities of applied sciences
2
1 Haute école spécialisée
de Suisse occidentale
2 Haute école spécialisée bernoise
4
3
6
5
3 Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz
4 Zürcher Fachhochschule
5 Fachhochschule Zentralschweiz
1
6 Fachhochschule Ostschweiz
7
7 Scuola universitaria professionale
della Svizzera italiana
Source: Department of Home Affairs.
These schools stemmed from the transformation and adaptation of the
requirements of certain advanced training schools, in an attempt to harmonise
and modernise the advanced training available, giving it more of a pragmatic
orientation. The seven universities of applied sciences are: Haute école spécialisée
de Suisse occidentale (UAS-SO), Haute école spécialisée bernoise (UAS-BE),
Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz (FHNW), Zürcher Fachhochschule (ZFH),
Fachhochschule Zentralschweiz (FHZ), Fachhochschule Ostschweiz (FHO) and Scuola
universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI). Each UAS corresponds to
a particular region and in fact consolidates a number of partner institutions.
In the past, it had long been considered in Switzerland that vocational and
academic instruction was mutually exclusive. Today, the dichotomy between
practical, trade-related training and scientific training or “pure” research has
become thoroughly outmoded. The missions of the universities of applied
sciences are broader than those of their predecessors, which were devoted to
teaching. They include teaching, applied research and development, vocational
development, services to third parties and joint endeavours with other training
and research institutions in Switzerland and abroad.
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Universities of applied sciences are thus open to research and play an
active role in the country’s economic and social life by acting as an
intermediary in transferring knowledge and technologies. National networks
of UAS competencies should give significant impetus to co-operation among
them, as well as with universities and the economy.
Within Switzerland’s two-track system of tertiary education, universities
of applied sciences can boast the following advantages:
●
Short courses of study, of three to four years.
●
Scientific instruction closely tied in with a corresponding profession and field
of activity, enabling students to make a seamless transition to working life.
●
A scientific teaching staff in constant contact with the world of labour.
●
Students who are generally more familiar than university students with the
world of work, and who have clear ideas of their career objectives.
The set-up phase for the universities of applied sciences will be completed
in 2003, at which time the Confederation will have to renew their licences.
Division of powers
The Confederation and the cantons play different roles in the building
and administration of universities of applied sciences. The Confederation
makes the laws and licences, and subsidises training tracks in six fields of
study: construction sciences, technical sciences, chemical engineering,
agriculture, economics and administration, and applied arts. Formally, under
the new Constitution which entered into force on 1 January 2000, it is the
Confederation that regulates all vocational training tracks, and this principle
is now being put into practice.
Other fields are therefore devolved to the cantons. They include: social
work, teacher training, public health, pedagogy, visual arts, music and the
performing arts, applied linguistics and applied psychology. In the field, the
cantons administer the universities of applied sciences – regardless of the
field of study concerned – and in addition they regulate training tracks not
under federal authority. They also provide most of the funding for UAS.
Table 3.2 gives an overview of the main fields of study taught in the
various universities of applied sciences.
Recognition at national level of diplomas in tracks regulated by the
cantons is governed by the Intercantonal Agreement on School-leaving
Diplomas (Accord intercantonal sur la reconnaissance des diplômes de fin d’études) of
18 February 1993.
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Table 3.2.
Fields of study in the universities of applied sciences
FH NW
Fields regulated by the Confederation
UAS-BE
FHO
FHBB
FHA
FHZ UAS-SO SUPSI
ZFH
FHSO
Architecture and civil engineering
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
Electrical engineering and electronics
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
Mechanical engineering
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
Computer science
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
Chemistry and biotechnology
●
●
Economics
●
●
Information and documentation
●
Agriculture and agronomy
●
Applied arts (design)
●
Sport
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
FH NW
Fields regulated by the cantons
BFH
FHO
FHBB
FHAG
●
FHZ UAS-SO SUPSI
Visual arts (fine arts)
●
●
Teaching of applied arts and visual arts
●
●
●
Music
●
●
●
Performing arts
●
●
●
●
●
1
●
1
●
Applied linguistics (translation,
interpretation)
●
●
Applied psychology
Social work
ZFH
FHSO
●
●
●
●
●
●
2
●
●
2
Public health
1. Conservatorio della Svizzera italiana (not incorporated into SUPSI).
2. La Haute école spécialisée santé-social romande (UAS-S2) opens in October 2002.
Source: Science Com SA, Bern.
Teachers’ Colleges (Hautes écoles pédagogiques)
Switzerland’s teachers’ colleges (hautes écoles pédagogiques, HEP) are
cantonal institutions that train primary school teachers at university level and
have mandates similar to universities of applied sciences – a category to
which they in fact belong, although they are not necessarily associated with
existing universities of applied sciences. Teachers’ colleges have opened or are
being created in the following regions or cantons: Argovia (PH Aarau), Central
Switzerland (PHZ), Basel-Town and Basel-Country (HPSA, with social studies),
Fribourg (HEP FR), Grisons (PH GR), St. Gallen (PH St. Gall, incorporated into the
university, and PH Rorschach), Solothurn (PH SO), Vaud (HEP VD), Valais (HEP
VS), Thurgovia (PH TG) and Zurich (PH ZH). The cantons of Bern (Frenchspeaking part), Jura and Neuchâtel share a teachers’ college (HEP BE JU NE).
The cantons of Bern (German-speaking part) and Geneva have incorporated
teacher training into their respective universities.
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Admission to universities of applied sciences
Admission policies make a distinction between fields that are regulated
by the Confederation and those regulated by the cantons.
Admission to a course of study in a field administered by the Confederation
generally requires a vocational maturity certificate. This is the easiest way to be
admitted to a university of applied sciences, since holders of a vocational
maturity certificate may enrol without taking an entrance examination.
Holders of a federally recognised Academic Maturity Certificate may also
be admitted to a UAS programme in fields administered by the Confederation,
although they are required to have completed at least one year’s practical
experience in the field in question.
Admission to a programme of study in a field administered by the
cantons requires a general knowledge diploma certifying that the holder has
completed a course of instruction of a length and level that are at least
equivalent to those of the vocational maturity certificate. Generally, this
involves an academic or vocational maturity certificate or a diploma marking
the completion of a three-year course in a diploma-level school or a
recognised business school. Situations can differ. For artistic fields, for
example, an aptitude test is still indispensable.
Special aspects of UAS studies
Since the autumn of 1997, the universities of applied sciences have been
in a development phase. This must be borne in mind when looking at
statistics presenting various aspects of studies (e.g. enrolment figures). For the
same reason, certain statistics are not yet available. Among them, primarily,
are the length of studies, success and failure rates, etc.
In winter semester 2000, nearly 25 000 students were enrolled in a UAS.
In comparison with the semester when they were created, three years earlier,
the increase was over 400% (see Figure 3.16). The proportion of first-year
students is about one-third. The majority of students are enrolled in fields
involving the economy. The number of students enrolled in technical courses
is also substantial (see Figure 3.17).
The proportion of female students, which barely exceeded 25% in 2000, is
relatively low in the universities of applied sciences. In any event, it is
significantly lower than the proportion of women students in Switzerland’s
universities (45%). One of the main reasons for this is that the representation
of women is very low (less than 5%) in technical fields, which account for a
substantial share of all students in the universities of applied sciences.
Foreign students account for roughly 15% of the UAS’ total enrolment.
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Figure 3.16.
Enrolments in Swiss universities of applied sciences, 1997-2001
25 000
20 000
15 000
10 000
5 000
0
1997/98
1998/99
1999/00
2000/01
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
Figure 3.17.
Enrolments in Swiss universities of applied sciences,
by gender and field of study, 2000
Men
Women
Economics
Technical sciences
Construction sciences
Music
Social work
Applied arts
0
2 000
4 000
6 000
8 000
10 000
0
200
400
600
800
1 000
Agriculture
Chemical engineering
Visual arts
Applied psychology
Theatre
Applied linguistics
Sport
Public health
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
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In 2000, universities of applied sciences employed over 13 000 people,
corresponding to roughly 5 000 full-time equivalents – one for every seven
students. Half of that was teaching staff (see Figure 3.18). In terms of
headcount, the proportion of women was slightly more than 25%. Women
accounted for nearly 50% of administrative and technical staff but for only
about 20% of the teaching staff (see Figure 3.19).
Figure 3.18.
University of Applied Sciences staff, 2000
Professors
Other faculty
Teaching and scientific assistants
Administrative and technical staff
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
Figure 3.19.
Gender distribution of University of Applied Sciences staff, 2000
Women
Men
5 000
4 000
3 000
2 000
1 000
0
Professors
Other
faculty
Teaching and
scientific assistants
Administrative and
technical staff
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
Structure of studies
UAS are generally full-time schools, although some offer variations for
working students that prolong their studies by one year. The curricula are
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highly structured, with a large proportion of required courses. Options are
only marginal, in the form of elective courses in the area of general education.
Under the Federal universities of applied sciences Act, studies generally last
three years on a full-time basis and four years if alternated with work experience.
Any practical internships are not included in the duration of studies.
Theoretically, examinations in universities of applied sciences take place
regularly throughout the academic year, and promotion from one class to
another hinges on certification that the learning objectives of the previous
year have been attained. The Act itself provides only for a final examination.
Students in the labour market
Unlike new graduates of Swiss universities, graduates of universities of
applied sciences have undertaken a course of study oriented towards work. For
graduates in technical and economic fields, the situation is very comparable to
that of university graduates in economics or engineering. A glance at the help
wanted ads shows that jobs filled by means of competitive examinations are
open to university and UAS graduates alike. Regarding entry-level salaries,
graduates in the aforementioned fields start off on an equal footing.
Graduates in social work undergo training that is geared to clearly
defined professional profiles (e.g. social assistant, social educator, sociocultural organiser, etc.). For persons having completed such training, there is a
job market explicitly aimed at them.
Graduates in the fields of visual and applied arts face a plight similar to
that of university graduates in human sciences. For many of them, there are
no clearly defined career paths. As a result, when they leave school they
themselves must try to find a way to break into the world of work.
Relations between universities of applied sciences and the universities
Alongside the cantonal universities and federal institutes of technology,
the universities of applied sciences constitute a pillar of the Swiss system of
higher education institutions that could be described by the motto “equivalent
but different”. The equivalence involves the training mandates with joint
elements of general vocational training, and the difference stems from the
close link in universities of applied sciences between the scientific spirit and
the practical approach – teaching and research geared towards practicality.
This division of tasks is important if the network of higher education
institutions is to be harmonised. But working together and horizontal and
vertical possibilities for transferring between the two (see Table 3.3) are also
essential. This co-operation and division of tasks are also part of the missions
of Switzerland’s universities and UAS.
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Possible transfer tracks between universities and UAS
Type of studies/diploma
Change within the same field of study
Change to a new field of study
Graduates of universities of applied
sciences
Federal Institutes of Technology:
admission to 5th semester;
examination
Federal Institutes of Technology:
admission to 1st semester without
an examination
Cantonal universities: variable
(depends on department)
Cantonal universities: admitted
to 1st semester without examination
in all departments (except medicine,
for the moment)
Cantonal universities in economics,
computer science or business
information systems: admission to
5th semester or depending on credit
equivalence; possibly examination
Federal institutes of technology
students without diplomas
UAS: admitted to 1st semester
without examination if work
experience
UAS: admitted to 1st semester without
examination if work experience
Federal institutes of technology
students with diplomas
UAS: admitted to 3rd semester
without examination if work
experience
UAS: admitted to 1st semester without
examination if work experience
University students without
propaedeutic examinations
UAS: admitted to 1st semester
without examination if work
experience
UAS: admitted to 1st semester without
examination if work experience
University students with
propaedeutic examinations
UAS: variable (depends
on department)
UAS: admitted to 1st semester without
examination if work experience
Post-graduate studies
Graduates of universities of applied sciences
Federal Institutes of Technology:
a) post-graduate without diploma: no particular conditions
(certificate of specific knowledge in some cases)
b)post-graduate with diploma: admission on application
(certificate of technical knowledge in some cases)
Cantonal universities: conditions differ, depending
on the institutions
University diploma or bachelor’s degree
UAS: as a rule, admitted with no further requirement,
if work experience
Source: CUAS and CUS.
The Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities and the Swiss
Conference of universities of applied sciences encourage exchange
programmes and work together readily. In addition, there has traditionally
been close co-operation between the federal institutes of technology and the
universities of applied sciences that used to be engineering schools.
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Scholarships
Under the federal Constitution, education is a cantonal task. Logically,
then, the allocation of training subsidies is also a cantonal responsibility.
The cantons make sovereign decisions regarding the requirements, amounts
and procedures for awarding scholarships.
However, the Confederation aids the cantons financially in that task.
Each year, it pays them a total of some SF 100 million to subsidise
scholarships granted to Swiss and foreign citizens undertaking upper
secondary or tertiary (university, UAS or federal institutes of technology)
studies. The federal contribution varies, depending on the financial
capabilities of the cantons.
Cantons award two types of scholarships:
●
Scholarship grants are lump-sum or instalment subsidies with no
reimbursement requirements.
●
Scholarship loans are lump-sum or instalment subsidies that have to be paid
back after the completion of the recipient’s schooling, generally with interest.
In most cantons, educational subsidies are awarded primarily in the form
of grants.
Educational subsidies are also awarded by foundations and by private
funds. Such organisations have limited resources, however, and applicants
may claim no entitlement to any assistance.
Lastly, the Federal Office of Education and Science provides scholarships
for foreign postgraduate scholars wishing to study at a Swiss university.
Encouraging mobility within Switzerland
Between 1991 and 1995, the Confederation financed a programme to
encourage mobility of academic university students within Switzerland. The
aim was to spur collaboration among universities and to foster better
understanding between the various linguistic areas of the country.
Today, a framework agreement on student mobility between Swiss
universities ensures the principle of mutual recognition of semesters,
educational programmes and examinations. In addition, a number of
administrative barriers have been removed. Students who spend one or two
semesters at another university remain enrolled at, and continue to pay
tuition to, their original school.
Each university has a mobility office to answer the questions of students
wishing to spend some time in another institution.
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Encouraging mobility internationally
Switzerland participates as a “silent partner” in the European Union’s
education programmes (Leonardo da Vinci, Socrates, Youth Programme).
Swiss participation and scholarships awarded to foreign students who come
to Switzerland temporarily are financed by the Federal Office for Education
and Science.
The “Erasmus Office” liaises with the EU’s “Socrates” programme. Inter
alia, it is responsible for awarding student scholarships.
The higher education institutions are introducing the European Credit
Transfer System (ECTS), which seeks to foster student mobility by ensuring
the recognition of credits obtained elsewhere. The system is currently under
review in connection with the Bologna Process, to which Swiss higher
education institutions have given official support.
In addition, the Swiss National Science Foundation has concluded a
number of agreements with foreign institutions in connection with
exchange programmes for scientists. The goal is to encourage international
scientific co-operation.
Lastly, with the entry into force of the bilateral agreements between
Switzerland and the EU, Swiss scientists will have access to EU programmes to
encourage mobility for researchers.
3.3. Research in Switzerland
As research is an integral part of the university system, the presentation
of “higher education policy” would not be complete without a substantial
description of research policy and infrastructure in Switzerland.
Switzerland is a country that, by international standards, invests heavily in
research. As it is poor in natural resources, it places great importance on R&D as
a means of ensuring its long-term prosperity and social security system.
Switzerland is an attractive country for research for the following
reasons:
●
on an international comparative basis, the share of gross national product
(GNP) devoted to research expenditure is among the highest in the world;
●
in summer 1998, the scientific journal “Science” published a ranking of the
ten European regions that produce the most research, based on the number
of scientific papers published in English per inhabitant. No fewer than three
Swiss or cross-border regions were listed (cf. Table 3.4);
●
more than two-thirds of Swiss research is financed by private industry. The
largest share of research is funded by the chemical, pharmaceutical,
electrical and metal industries. The fact that the Swiss economy did not
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Table 3.4. Switzerland’s ranking in the top ten research countries
City or region
Total publications
Publications per person
1
Cambridge
17 764
81
2
Oxford, Reading
18 876
41
3
Geneva, Lausanne
13 405
29
4
Basel, Mulhouse, Fribourg en Br.
13 918
20
5
Bristol, Cardiff
10 633
15
6
Zurich
11 951
13
7
Stockholm, Uppsala
20 195
12
8
Helsinki
10 287
12
9
Copenhagen, Lund
21 631
11
Munich
15 947
10
10
reduce the volume of its national R&D investments even during the recession
of the 1990s shows the importance given to research in Switzerland.
Research actors
In private industry, researchers are primarily engaged in applied
research. Basic research is mainly carried out in cantonal universities, federal
institutes of technology and the four federal research institutes (the Paul
Scherrer Institute, IPS; the Federal Institute for Woodland, Snow and
Landscape Research, FNP; the Federal Laboratory for Materials Testing and
Research, LFEM; and the Federal Institute for Water Supplies, Waste Water
Treatment and Water Resources Protection, IFAEPE, cf. Map 3.1). The six
research stations of the Federal Office for Agriculture must also be added to
this list. The universities of applied sciences focus on applied research and
development activities closely related to the needs of the market. One of the
reasons why they were established was to forge a closer link between Swiss
universities and businesses, especially SMEs.
A number of other research institutes receive public subsidies, such as
the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (ISB, www.isb-sib.ch), the Swiss Institute
for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC, www.isrc.ch) in Epalinges near
Lausanne and the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM,
www.cesem.ch) in Neuchâtel.
Figure 3.20 shows the research actors in Switzerland and Figure 3.21
shows the Confederation’s expenditure in the research and development field.
Private industry’s key contribution to research
Many highly research-oriented major international corporations also
have their headquarters or operate research laboratories in Switzerland.
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Figure 3.20. Public research decision-making and funding
on the national level
Bodies in charge of general science
and technology policy
Federal Department
Federal Department
of Economic Affairs
of Home Affairs
Swiss
Science
Agency
Basic research
Specific and applied research
Decision-making and funding
Swiss National
Science Foundation
Decision-making
and funding
Organizing 4 Priority Programs: Biotechnology, Environment, Information
and Communication Structures, Switzerland: Towards the Future
Organizing the National Research Programs (NRP)
Evaluating and implementing the National Centers of Competence in Research
Responsible for EU
programs, COST
and other
international
programs and
organizations as
well as for national
institutions and
programs
Federal Office
for Education
and Science
ETH
Board
Carrying out
research
Swiss Federal
Institute of
Technology
Zurich
Domain of the
Swiss Federal
Institutes of
Technology
Swiss Federal
Institute of
Technology
Lausanne
Responsible
for EUREKA, IMS
and national
technology
Federal Office for
programs
Professional Education
and Technology
Commission
for Technology
and Innovation
Initiating technology oriented programs (TOP) like
“TOP Nano 21” (the nanometer in the science and
technology of the 21st century)
Paul
Scherrer
Institute
Swiss
Federal
Research
Institute WSL
Swiss Federal
Institute for
Environmental
Swiss Federal
Science and
Laboratories
Technology
for Materials
(EAWAG)
Testing and
Research (EMPA)
Carrying out research
Cantonal universities
Universities of applied sciences
Neuchâtel
Luzern
Zurich
Fribourg
Zurich
Western
Switzerland
Southern
Switzerland
Lausanne
St. Gallen
Bern
Bern
Geneva
Northwestern
Switzerland
Eastern
Switzerland
Central
Switzerland
Basel
Lugano
Source: Science Com SA, Bern.
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Figure 3.21.
The Confederation’s expenditure on research
and development, 2000
(in millions of Swiss francs SF, rounded off)
Direct financing:
1 050 million
Implementation
Confederation
(including the
Commission for
Technology and
Innovation, not
including the Swiss
National science
Foundation)
720 million
(35%)
140
Federal public
sector 140 (7%)
85
Private companies
95 (5%)
85
Private NPOs and others
institutions2 115 (6%)
230
International
projects and
programmes
230 (11%)
180
40
Swiss National
Science Foundation
330 (16%)
2101
Indirect financing:
1 010 million
Sector of Swiss
colleges and
universities
Federal
Polytechnic
Institutes
500 million
(24%)
500
Aid to universities
150 (7%)
150
Research Institutes of
ETH domain
360 (18%)
360
1 400 million1
(68%)
80 million1 (3%)
Total financing: 2 060 million
Funds for
intramural R-D
Financial flows of less than SF 10 million are not shown
Funds for R&D mandates
and contributions
1. Not including the SF 80 million of the Swiss National Science Foundation not used for R&D,
according to Swiss colleges and universities.
2. NPOs – not-profit organisations.
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
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These include the chemical-pharmaceutical firms Novartis and Hoffmann-La
Roche, the agri-food giant Nestlé, the technology firms ABB and Sulzer and the
IBM research centre in Rüschlikon near Zurich.
The new orientation of research policy
In order to maintain the long-term international competitiveness of
Swiss research, in 1999 the federal government decided to give a new
orientation to research policy. The basic idea underlying this new policy is to
create nation-wide networks in which the cantonal universities, federal
institutes of technology and universities of applied sciences co-operate
closely. According to the guidelines for this policy, these networks should
make it possible to develop recognised competencies and strive for excellence
in important, future-oriented fields rather than trying to be exhaustive in all
fields. The Swiss government also wishes to reinforce its international
co-operation in research.
As regards targeted research, the federal government has defined the
following priority fields:
●
life sciences;
●
social and human sciences;
●
sustainable development and the environment;
●
information and communication technologies;
●
nanotechnologies.
Other key technical disciplines can also play an important role, such as
microtechnology, materials science and medical technology.
Legal basis
The Constitution
The promotion of scientific research by the federal government is governed
by Article 64 of the Constitution, which states that the Confederation may make
its support conditional, in particular, upon taking co-ordination measures. It
may also create, operate or take over research institutions.
The Research Act
The Federal Research Act, which entered into force in 1983, also makes it
possible to finance basic and targeted research, the latter of which has gained
in importance in recent years (National Research Programmes, Priority
Programmes and National Centres of Competence in Research), and
international research co-operation programmes. It also provides the legal
basis for the grants given by the Confederation to institutions responsible for
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promoting research (such as the Swiss National Science Foundation, the four
scientific academies and non-university research institutes).
Institutions responsible for promoting research
The Swiss National Science Foundation
The main institution responsible for promoting research in Switzerland is
the Swiss National Science Foundation (FNS, www.snf.ch). It is a private-law
foundation, financed primarily with public funds. It does not conduct any
research of its own, but, under the terms of reference set by the Confederation,
it promotes non-profit research work inside and outside higher education
institutions. Its purpose is to promote basic research, but also the
employment of highly qualified young scientists.
In addition to promoting projects involving basic research, the
Foundation is also responsible for implementing the various national research
programmes: National Research Programmes (programmes nationaux de
recherche), Priority Programmes (programmes prioritaires de recherches) and the
National Centres of Competence in Research (pôles de recherche nationaux).
The organisation of National Research Programmes is based on a topdown approach. Their objective is to help solve contemporary problems of
national importance. Federal government departments and any natural or
legal person may submit programme proposals. The Foundation then
examines the issues raised from a scientific standpoint and evaluates whether
Switzerland has the necessary research potential. The Swiss Science Agency
then assesses the relevance and interest of the programme.
The aim of the Priority Programmes is to enable Swiss research to remain in
the forefront of international scientific progress and to support the development
of centres of competence in strategically important research fields.
The Priority Programmes are currently being replaced by the National
Centres of Competence in Research, which are the most recently introduced
tools for promoting research. The purpose of this new tool is to maintain and
strengthen Switzerland’s position in strategically important fields of research.
It is generally used to promote very high-level research projects. This scheme
functions as follows: a “leading house” in a university or federal institute of
technology joins with other partners in applying to the Foundation to
establish a National Centre of Competence in Research (bottom-up approach).
In 2001, the Foundation launched 14 National Centres (cf. Figure 3.22). The
maximum duration is 12 years. At the end of the fourth and eighth years, the
National Centres will be evaluated and renewed for further four-years if they
have achieved the objectives set. The total funding of the National Centres for
the first four years amounts to SF 529, if federal grants (SF 224 million,
76
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Figure 3.22.
National Centres of Competence in Research
January 2002
Plant survival in natural and agricultural
ecosystems (NCCR Plant Survival)
Molecular oncology from basic research
to therapeutic approaches
(NCCR Molecular Oncology)
www.nccr-oncology.ch
Director: Prof. Michel Aguet
Home institution: ISREC, Epalinges
Budget (4 years): CHF 36.7 million
www.unine.ch/nccr
Director: Prof. Martine Rahier
Home institution: University of Neuchâtel
Budget (4 years): CHF 24.9 million
Nanoscale science impact on life sciences,
sustainability, information
and communication technologies
(NCCR Nanoscale Science)
www.nanoscience.unibas.ch
Director: Prof. Hans-Joachim Güntherodt
Home institution: University of Basle
Budget (4 years): CHF 64 million
www.nccr-finrisk.unizh.ch
Director: Prof. Rajna Gibson
Home institution: University of Zurich
Budget (4 years): CHF 14.6 million
Molecular life sciences: three dimensional
structure, folding and interactions
(NCCR Structural Biology)
www.structuralbiology.unizh.ch
Director: Prof. Markus Grütter
Home institution: University of Zurich
Budget (4 years): CHF 29.9 million
Mobile information and
communication systems (NCCR MICS)
www.terminodes.org
Director: Prof. Martin Vetterli
Home institution: EDFL
Budget (4 years): CHF 31.4 million
Neural plasticity and repair
(NCCR Neuro)
Quantum photonics
(NCCR Quantum Photonics)
http://nccr-qp.epfl.ch
Director: Prof. Marc Ilegems
Home institution: EDFL
Budget (4 years): CHF 36.5 million
www.nccr-neuro.unizh.ch
Director: Prof. Hanns Möhler
Home institution: University of Zurich
Budget (4 years): CHF 72.1 million
www.im2.ch
Director: Prof. Hervé Bourlard
Home institution: Institut Dalle Molle
d'intelligence artificielle perceptive,
Martigny
Budget (4 years): CHF 30.3 million
Climate variability, predictability
and climate risks (NCCR Climate)
www.nccr-climate.unibe.ch
Director: Prof. Heinz Wanner
Home institution: University of Bern
Budget (4 years): CHF 21.5 million
Source: Fonds National Suisse de la Recherche (Swiss National Research Foundation) (FNS).
North-South: research partnerships
for mitigating syndromes of global
change (NCCR North-South)
www.nccr-north-south.unibe.ch
Director: Prof. Hans Hurni
Home institution: University of Bern
Budget (4 years): CHF 33 million
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Interactive multimodal information
management (NCCR [IM]2)
I.3.
Computer aided and image guided
medical interventions (NCCR CO-ME)
www.co-me.ch
Director: Prof. Gábor Székely
Home institution: ETH Zurich
Budget (4 years): CHF 41.3 million
Frontiers in genetics Genes,
chromosomes and development (NCCR Genetics)
www.unige.ch/frontiers-in-genetics
Director: Prof. Denis Duboule
Home institution: University of Geneva
Budget (4 years): CHF 46.8 million
Materials with novel electronic
properties (NCCR MaNEP)
www.manep.ch
Director: Prof. Øystein Fischer
Home institution: University of Geneva
Budget (4 years): CHF 45.4 million
Financial valuation and risk
management (NCCR FINRISK)
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of which SF 161 million were provided for the 2000-2003 period, the remainder
being carried over to the 2004-2007 period) are combined with the resources
invested by higher education institutions themselves and the contributions of
corporate partners.
Commission for Technology and Innovation
The Commission for Technology and Innovation (Commission pour la
technologie et l’innovation, CTI), which is under the supervision of the Federal
Office for Professional Education and Technology (Office fédéral de la formation
professionnelle et de la technologie, OFFT), is another important institution for the
promotion of research in Switzerland. The legal basis of the CTI is derived
from the Federal Act of 1954 on preparatory measures aimed at combating
crises and creating jobs. One of the provisions of this act lays down that the
Confederation may take active measures to support the competitive capacity
of the Swiss economy.
The CTI’s primary task is to promote applied research and development
by providing financial support to research projects carried out jointly by
corporate partners and higher education institutions. In the same spirit, the
CTI supports competency building in applied research and development in the
new universities of applied sciences and implements technologically oriented
programmes as mandated by the ETH Board. It also supports start-ups in their
initial stages in an advisory capacity.
Lastly, in conjunction with the establishment of the universities of
applied sciences, the CTI helps to set up national networks of competence, for
example in biotechnology, communication technologies, microelectronics and
wood processing.
Swiss scientific academies
Swiss scientific academies also contribute to the promotion of research in
Switzerland by financing publications and promoting the dissemination of
scientific discoveries. There are four such academies:
78
●
The Swiss Academy of Human and Social Sciences (Académie suisse des
sciences humaines et sociales, ASSH, www.sagw.ch).
●
The Swiss Academy of Sciences (Académie suisse des sciences naturelles, ASSN,
www.assn.ch).
●
The Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (Académie suisse des sciences
médicales, ASSM, www.assm.ch).
●
The Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (Académie suisse des sciences
techniques, SATW, www.satw.ch).
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The four academies are supervised by the Council of Swiss Scientific
Academies (Conseil des académies scientifiques suisses, CASS, www.cass.ch), which is
responsible for organising and facilitating co-operation between the academies.
In addition to these institutions, there are some 400 other foundations
active in R&D in Switzerland. Even though their contribution only amounts to
between 1 and 2% of all private and public research spending, they do play an
important role in certain fields, such as medicine (for example, the Maurice E.
Müller Foundation in Bern).
Swiss research in the international arena
Switzerland and EU research
With the ratification of the bilateral agreements between Switzerland
and the EU, Switzerland will be authorised to participate in EU research
projects as an associate member, which was previously only possible for the
EURATOM Fusion Programme.
If the EU complies with its timetable, Switzerland will be a full participant
in the 6th framework programme from its inception. This is a significant
development, for it will enable Swiss researchers to be responsible for coordinating projects and parts of programmes, and they will only need to have
a single research partner from an EU country or another associated country.
To prepare Swiss researchers in higher education institutions and industry
for their new role, in February 2001 the Confederation established Euresearch, a
firm in the Swiss Network for Innovation SNI-RSI, financed by the Confederation
(www.euresearch.ch). Euresearch supervises in particular the “European Consumer
Infocentres” available to researchers in higher education institutions.
Active participation in international research
At the same time, Switzerland is also stepping up its research cooperation with other countries. For example, in autumn 2000, it opened up in
the Boston area, in the heart of one of the major scientific centres of the
United States, the Swiss House for Advanced Research and Education SHARE
(www.creativeswitzerland.com). In addition to North America, Switzerland also
co-operates with other countries in the field of scientific research, and is
particularly active with Asian countries such as Japan and Korea.
Switzerland’s active role in international research is also shown by its
membership in many programmes and organisations, such as the Initiative
EUREKA, the “Human Frontier Science Programme (HFSP)” in the field of
neurobiology, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the
European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO),
to mention only a few.
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Knowledge and technology transfer
There are a large number of institutions and tools in Switzerland for
promoting and supporting research and establishing contacts to promote
exchanges between Swiss universities, UAS and businesses.
Cantonal universities and federal institutes of technology
During the last ten years, the cantonal universities, federal institutes
of technology and the four research institutes have either created
technology transfer departments or designated officers responsible for
relations with industry.
An example of the close relations that higher education institutions
maintain with industry is the co-operation contract signed in 1999 between
Novartis and Zurich University’s Neuroscience Centre and the federal institute
of technology Zurich. Under the terms of this contract, the pharmaceutical
group will provide SF 40 million in financing over a ten-year period.
The higher education institutions also promote technology transfer by
providing initial and further education in the fields of technology and
innovation management, intellectual property rights and enterprise creation.
To this must be added a whole series of activities aimed at informing firms
about R&D activities. Lastly, the two federal institutes of technology and the
cantonal universities house the EU research network’s European Consumer
Infocentres responsible for promoting and supporting the participation of
Swiss researchers in European research programmes.
Universities of applied sciences
The new universities of applied sciences, which carry out R&D and
provide services to economic actors, act as a transmission belt between
research and industry. Many universities of applied sciences already have a
technology transfer service.
In German-speaking Switzerland and Ticino, CIM Centres (computerintegrated manufacturing) were created under a Confederation action
programme, which is now complete. Some of these centres have been
incorporated into the activities of the technical universities of applied
sciences, and their role is to support innovation in SMEs.
Technology and innovation management is also an important aspect of
the training provided by some business-oriented universities of applied
sciences.
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Institutions active in technology transfer
The main institutions responsible for promoting technology transfer in
Switzerland are as follows:
●
The Commission for Technology and Innovation. The CTI is the
Confederation’s main tool for promoting industrial innovation.
●
The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. The Institute ensures
the legal protection of intellectual property rights (www.ige.ch). It provides
information search, patent registration and training services.
●
The Swiss Network for Innovation. This national technology transfer
network includes cantonal universities, federal institutes of technology,
universities of applied sciences and businesses. Its purpose is to step up
technology transfer by supporting existing activities.
●
The technology transfer services of higher education institutions. They
provide information, support, contact and in some cases training services,
generally in three fields: co-operation in research projects, protection of
intellectual property rights and enterprise creation.
●
Technology parks. They have been designed to house spin-offs and startups in their initial development phase. Often located near a higher
education institution, they provide not only premises but also services to
help firms in the creation and start-up phase.
3.4. The international relations of universities, universities
of applied sciences and the administration
The Swiss higher education system’s openness to the outside world is
shown by the high proportion of foreign students (cf. Figure 3.9) and the large
number of teachers from outside the country. At the tertiary level, Swiss policy
still makes a distinction between co-operation in the fields of education and
research. In the field of education, emphasis is currently placed on the
identification and development of indicators, higher education, lifelong
learning, adult education, school-to-work transition, learning technologies
and distance learning. This chapter will deal only with international relations
in the field of education. International co-operation in the field of research is
presented in the chapter on research.
It should be pointed out that the international relations of universities
are generally managed both by rectorates and their international officers and
by faculties, depending on the type of co-operation. This may be bilateral (with
another institution) or multilateral (with other university administrations,
teaching and research departments, scientific NGOs or private institutions).
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International relations and co-operation
European Union
Switzerland participated fully in the EU COMETT and ERASMUS
programmes until 1994-1995. It has no longer been able do so officially since
then, as no bilateral agreement has been negotiated with the EU for the
Leonardo da Vinci and Socrates programmes that succeeded them.
Nevertheless, thanks to interim measures, the Federal Office for Education
and Science (Office fédéral de l’éducation et de la science, OFES) is financing the
indirect participation of Switzerland in both programmes. The Swiss
government has set the objective of reaching a bilateral agreement with the
EU in the field of education and youth as soon as possible.
Other international co-operation
Switzerland is a member of the Council of Europe, the OECD, UNESCO and
the OIF (International Organisation of the Francophonie), and participates in
the current programmes, projects and initiatives of these organisations. For
the 2000-2003 period, Switzerland has appropriated SF 10 million for its
participation in the selected educational projects of multilateral organisations
outside the EU. It participates in projects for skills assessment and
comparison of performance in the field of education (such as the OECD’s PISA
Study). It has also participated in international comparative studies aimed at
improving the transition from initial education to working life and crossnational studies on how to manage education systems more effectively.
It should be pointed out that this work consists mainly of educational
research involving researchers from higher education institutions rather than
the institutions themselves. Furthermore, this research is only rarely devoted
to higher education as a subject of study. Traditionally, the main exceptions to
this rule – but which are the responsibility of the federal government – are the
research related to the OECD’s IMHE Programme and UNESCO’s CEPES
Programme.
Switzerland also co-operates actively with the European University
Association (EUA), which is headquartered in Geneva. The Rectors’ Conference
of the Swiss Universities (CRUS, Conférence des recteurs des universités suisses)
and all Swiss universities are members of the EUA, and the Conference of
Universities of applied sciences is an associate member.
Some scientific co-operation outside Europe goes through European
organisations, which have more weight in international agreements than one
country alone. However, Switzerland also intends further to develop its
contacts throughout the world on a bilateral basis with neighbouring
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countries, the United States and above all the Far East. In this regard,
co-operation has been established with South Korea.
Higher education institutions already have numerous bilateral
agreements with countries throughout the world.
Recognition of diplomas
In neighbouring countries…
In addition to these multilateral relations, Switzerland also attaches great
importance to bilateral agreements, in particular with neighbouring countries,
in order to ensure student mobility and mutual recognition of programmes
and diplomas. It has concluded bilateral agreements with Austria, Germany
and Italy. These agreements govern the recognition of the programmes and
diplomas of all higher education institutions, but not the recognition of
vocational diplomas, which are governed by the bilateral agreement between
the EU and Switzerland on the free movement of persons.
The case of France is somewhat different. As the French government has
explicitly decided not to negotiate a governmental bilateral agreement, in 1994
the rectors’ conferences of both countries concluded a framework agreement
on the recognition of diplomas and programmes. The French “grandes écoles”,
the Swiss universities of applied sciences and certain fields, such as medicine,
are not covered by this agreement.
… and elsewhere
Switzerland acceded to the university conventions of the Council of
Europe and UNESCO in 1991 and ratified a new joint convention, the Lisbon
Convention, in 1998. Among other measures, this Convention provides for a
“Diploma Supplement” (DS), which is a description of the qualification to be
attached to each diploma awarded by a university or UAS. In general, foreign
universities recognise the Swiss maturity certificate as a qualification giving
access to university studies. The Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities
recommends ultimately introducing the Diploma Supplement, i.e. a
description of the qualification attached to each diploma awarded by a
university or a UAS as a means of evaluation for admission services and
employers in partner countries. Both the Lisbon Convention and the Bologna
Declaration recommend the introduction of the Diploma Supplement. Since
the first diplomas were awarded in 2000, the universities of applied sciences
have introduced Diploma Supplements.
In all programmes offered by Swiss networks of higher education
institutions, steps are being taken, inasmuch as possible, to introduce the
European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).
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The Bologna Declaration
The Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities agrees with the general
objectives of the Bologna Declaration and supports their implementation.
Swiss universities are prepared to make fundamental changes in their
programmes of study and, if need be, reorganise them so that they will be
better integrated into the European educational context, and to promote
mobility, transparency and harmonisation more actively. However, any
standardisation and uniformisation must be avoided.
With a view to integrating universities of applied sciences into the
Bologna process, the Swiss Conference of universities of applied sciences and
the Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities have set up a “Bologna”
working group. The ongoing revision of the Federal universities of applied
sciences Act (loi sur les hautes écoles spécialisées, LUAS) should lay the legal
framework for introducing master’s degree programmes.
The universities and colleges of higher education have been asked to cooperate in implementing the Bologna process.
Maintaining the two-track system
Switzerland will maintain its two-track system. Both universities and
universities of applied sciences will grant bachelor’s and master’s degrees,
although doctorates will only be awarded by universities.
Although universities of applied sciences are only in the discussion stage,
several universities and the federal institute of technology Zurich introduced
the bachelor’s/master’s system for part of their programme in autumn 2001,
and the University of St. Gallen even applied it to all its course offerings. All
universities must have prepared a reform strategy by 2005 and have
implemented it by 2010.
Quality assurance
Switzerland also wishes to pursue another goal of the Bologna Declaration,
i.e. the introduction of quality assurance and accreditation procedures that will
reflect the criteria and standards being developed in Europe. Currently, the
preparatory work is mainly aimed at establishing the new Swiss Accreditation
and Quality Assurance Body (see p. 47). In most universities, quality assessment
processes have already been implemented in recent years. The universities of
applied sciences have also launched an evaluation process, consisting of a selfevaluation and a peer review, with a view to recognition by the Confederation.
This process is under way in all institutions, whether they are under the
supervision of the Confederation or the Cantons.
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3.5. Support programmes
The Swiss government supports university projects in fields of national
importance and has appropriated SF 187 million to cantonal universities for
this purpose during the 2000-2003 period. The Swiss University Conference
(CUS) is responsible for allocating these funds. These support programmes for
higher education institutions include measures in the following fields:
promotion of young scientific talent, equal opportunities for men and women,
the Swiss virtual campus, the SWITCH computer network, the innovation
network and university co-operation projects.
It should be pointed out that federal grants are only intended for cantonal
universities. The federal institutes of technology and universities of applied
sciences participate in these measures using their own resources.
Promotion of young scientific talent
The Confederation has had special measures to promote young scientific
talent in cantonal universities since 1992. Between 2000 and 2003, the Swiss
University Conference will allocate some SF 59 million for this purpose. One of
the uses of these funds will be to finance approximately 150 assistant professor
and assistant lecturer posts. The cantonal universities and the Graduate
Institute of International Studies (IUHEI) in Geneva are authorised to receive
grants. Through the various measures to promote young scientific talent, the
Confederation is particularly interested in promoting the careers of women.
Swiss National Science Foundation Professorships
Acting on a mandate issued by the federal government, the Swiss
National Science Foundation (FNS) supports young researchers through a vast
programme of fellowships and grants.
Since 1999, the FNS has had a new tool for promoting young scientific
talent: the professorship grant. Awarded yearly through a competitive
selection process, these grants are normally limited to four years, but may be
extended for a further two years. This financing covers the grant recipient’s
salary, a research grant making it possible to form a small research team and
a contribution to infrastructure costs. The maximum amount granted per
professorship is SF 1.6 million for four years, although the average figure for
grants is SF 1.2 million.
These professorships are intended for qualified persons who have
already done post-doctoral studies abroad, have teaching and independent
research experience and wish to pursue a university career. The level is that of
assistant professor, and posts may be tenure-track, depending on the higher
education institution.
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Promoting new scientific talent in the National Centres of Competence
in Research
In the National Centres of Competence in Research (PRN), the promotion
of young scientific talent plays a key role. The directors of centres must ensure
that young researchers have an opportunity to interact in doctoral schools or
university summer programmes in order to broaden their scientific horizon.
Because of the size and duration of National Centres of Competence in
Research (a maximum of twelve years), research directors are able to plan the
careers of the new generation of top researchers more easily. For the Swiss
National Science Foundation, the promotion of women’s careers is an
important aspect. No quota has been set, but the directors of centres are
required to prepare a list of measures taken in this regard.
Federal institutes of technology: tenure-track career plan
In the ETH domain, the federal institutes of technology Zurich and
Lausanne have established a career plan based on the US tenure-track system.
Since the beginning of 2001, assistant professors have had their work
evaluated with a view to promotion to a post of permanent professor.
Holders of tenure-track positions enjoy the same academic freedom as
full professors, in particular as regards their research and the management of
their team, and have considerable financial autonomy.
The probation period is a maximum of six years. Every year, there is an
evaluation meeting between the assistant professor and the department head.
If the evaluation shows that there is a serious prospect of obtaining a post of
permanent professor, the candidate may apply for this position.
The “Do-Re” Programme in universities of applied sciences
In 2001, the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Commission for
Technology and Innovation (CTI) launched a joint programme aimed at
promoting the creation and consolidation of competence in applied research
in the universities of applied sciences under the sole supervision of cantons.
Named “Do-Re” (i.e. “Do Research”), this programme has an annual budget of
SF 2 million. These funds make it possible to co-finance applied research
projects by paying researchers’ salaries. Priority is given to projects that
promote the emergence of young scientific talent and that cannot obtain
grants through the usual funding channels.
In principle, this programme contributes 50% of the total costs of the
project, as for the CTI’s projects. In order to ensure that the research is
oriented towards practical applications, the projects must involve partners
from outside the university.
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The Confederation’s “equal opportunity” programme
Between 2000 and 2003, the Swiss government is contributing SF 4 million
yearly to the promotion of equal opportunities in cantonal universities. The
stated goal of this project is to increase substantially the share of women
teachers in Swiss universities. This share, which currently stands at 8%
(cf. Figure 3.15), is to be raised to 14% by 2006. This programme is organised
around three modules: financial incentives, mentoring and childcare.
Equal opportunity in the ETH domain…
The ETH Board, which oversees the ETH domain, also manages an equal
opportunity programme. It provides both the two federal institutes of
technology and their research institutes with the funds required for these
projects. The institutes promote in particular careers for women in the tenuretrack system. For example, women may take a maternity leave for a specific
time and return to their post after this leave expires.
… and in the universities of applied sciences…
In the universities of applied sciences, SF 10 million have been allocated
through 2003 both to create posts of equal opportunity officer and to launch
concrete projects. To meet the main goals of this programme, the following
steps must be taken: to set up a network of competence for promoting equal
opportunity, to raise awareness and encourage women and others to enrol in
universities of applied sciences, to propose flexible models for attending
regular or continuing training programmes, to facilitate returning to school for
students who have interrupted their education for family-related or other
reasons through scholarships and course credit managed by the universities
of applied sciences, to propose flexible childcare for young children, to
introduce mentoring at all levels by teaching staff in co-operation with the
universities and federal polytechnic institutes and to develop gender research
and apply the results obtained. In spring 2001, the equal opportunity officers
of universities of applied sciences formed an association for promoting the
exchange of ideas and information. This association also wishes to establish a
dialogue with industry and professional associations.
… and in the Swiss National Science Foundation
For a two-year period starting in January 2002, the National Science
Foundation will no longer apply the age limit criterion in awarding research
grants to women. It has also employed an equal opportunity officer since
June 2001. She is assisted by a working group composed of experts, which
has been asked to develop a long-term strategy for promoting equal
opportunity in research.
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Since 1991, the first year of the Marie Heim-Vögtlin Programme, named
after the Swiss first woman to receive a medical degree, the Swiss National
Science Foundation has provided grants to enable women with a degree or
doctorate in biology, medicine, mathematics, natural sciences or engineering
to resume a scientific activity after interrupting their career or reducing their
working time, generally for family-related reasons.
The National Science Foundation’s statistics show that its programmes
on behalf of women in science are gradually bearing fruit, for women now
account for some 30% of those working in research projects.
The Confederation’s “Swiss Virtual Campus” programme
T h e a i m o f t h e f e d e ra l “ S w i s s Vi r t u a l C a m p u s ” p ro g ra m m e
(www.virtualcampus.ch) is to encourage higher education institutions to take
greater advantage of new information and communication technologies in
education. In this regard, it is important to recognise the high quality of
interactive virtual courses and to include them in ordinary programmes of
study, for example through the ECTS system.
Financing by the Confederation and cantons
Between 2000 and 2003, the Swiss government is providing SF 30 million
in grants to universities. The federal institutes of technology and universities
of applied sciences may participate in the Swiss Virtual Campus (SVC), but
must pay costs themselves.
The SVC comprises some 50 projects. An initial series of 27 projects was
approved in spring 2000, followed by a second series of 23 projects in the
following year. 37 projects are managed by universities, 11 by universities of
applied sciences and 2 by federal institutes of technology.
The SVC is funded in equal amounts by the universities and the
Confederation. The ETH Board has allocated approximately SF 2 million to
fund the participation of federal institutes of technology, while the Federal
Office for Professional Education and Technology (OFFT) has provided some
SF 12 million to finance the participation of universities of applied sciences.
Applications have been approved thus far in the following fields: physics,
mathematics and computer science (4); educational sciences (4); human
sciences (7); medicine (11); engineering and information technologies (8);
environmental and life sciences (6); and economics and law (10).
The potential use of the Swiss Virtual Campus is estimated at a total
10 000 course visits. The list of all projects may be consulted at the site
www.virtualcampus.ch.
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Development of the SWITCH Next Generation computer network
The SWITCH Foundation, located in Zurich, was established in 1987 with
the initial assistance of the Confederation. SWITCH is a remote dataprocessing network linking higher education institutions and Swiss public
research institutions with each other and with the world at large. All data sent
or received by researchers transits through the SWITCH network. The
foundation provides network infrastructure by purchasing transmission
capacity from network operators and making it available in services such as
E-mail and Internet applications.
SWITCH was a pioneering initiative and because the lack of other
providers, customers from outside Swiss higher education institutions also
used this information highway. However, as there are now many commercial
Internet access providers, SWITCH is once again solely a research network.
Modernisation of the data-processing network
SWITCH was a pace-setting initiative in Europe until the mid-1990s,
when it began to lag behind. If it has now lost ground to international
competition, this is largely because insufficient funds have been available to
make the necessary innovations.
The Swiss government has decided to correct this situation by allocating
SF 6 million per year for modernisation of the network between 2000
and 2003. Because of the gains derived from managing domain names,
SWITCH has thus far been able to do without these grants.
Establishment of a Swiss Innovation Network
With the Swiss Network for Innovation (RSI), the Confederation has
launched a national technology transfer network linking the cantonal
universities, federal institutes of technology and universities of applied
sciences with enterprises with a view to giving new momentum to existing
activities. Priority is given to future-oriented fields, such as computer science,
information and communication systems, biomedical engineering,
biotechnologies, microtechnology and nanotechnology.
During the initial phase of the project between 2000 and 2003, the
Confederation is investing SF 2 million per year in the network. It will
gradually reduce its aid as from 2004, the objective being for the network
ultimately to become self-financing.
With regard to EU research projects, the Swiss Network for Innovation
promotes, organises and acts as a clearing house for European projects that
involve or interest Swiss researchers in universities or industry. The goal is to
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foster the broadest possible participation of Swiss researchers in initiating and
co-ordinating projects.
In addition to these primary missions, the Network also engages in other
activities, such as promotion of Swiss technology in Europe and throughout
the world (for example, in co-operation with the scientific consulate in
Boston), continuing training in the technology transfer field, fostering of
informal relations between representatives of universities and business and
legislative and government lobbying activities to promote innovation and
technology transfer.
Support for innovation and co-operation projects
Some SF 74 million have been appropriated for the 2000-2003 period to
promote co-operation projects between universities. Projects are approved by
the Swiss University Conference (www.cus.ch).
The Conference requires that at least two higher education institutions
participate in these projects, one of which must be a cantonal university. The
schools must also provide matching funds equivalent to the federal grant.
Co-operation projects must contribute to creating an environment that
will attract the best students, researchers and teachers. These projects are
aimed in particular at achieving the two following objectives: firstly, to set a
medium and long-term course for higher education by leading Swiss higher
education institutions to co-operate increasingly with each other and with
their foreign counterparts in cross-border regions; and, secondly, to improve
the distribution of tasks nation-wide and foster the creation of centres of
competence providing high-quality services at a reasonable cost.
The projects supported thus far can be classified as follows: projects
involving networking and the creation of centres of competence, cross-border
co-operation projects and projects to develop infrastructure (facilities, tools,
joint initiatives) for all higher education institutions.
Co-operation and innovation projects of the federal institutes
of technology
Just as the Confederation supports projects for co-operation between
cantonal universities, the ETH Board has decided to support co-operation and
innovation projects by allocating SF 122 million to the institutes for the
2000-2003 period.
The following are some of the fields to which this funding is being
allocated: information sciences, life sciences, computer science, genomics,
centres of competence in human and social sciences, green areas in urban
communities and materials sciences.
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Universities of applied sciences: co-operation in six national competence
networks
In 2001, the Swiss government recognised six national competence
networks of universities of applied sciences. The goal of the national
competence networks is to give a major boost to co-operation of universities
of applied sciences with each other and with other higher education
institutions and businesses. In particular, the networks should create the
capacities necessary to supply services that go beyond what each partner can
currently provide.
The six competence networks encompass the following fields:
information and communication technology, integrated production and
logistics, microelectronics, wood construction and technology, biotechnology
and e-business and e-government.
3.6. Continuing education and training
The debate on continuing education and training began relatively late in
Switzerland, in the 1970s. A popular referendum aimed at introducing an
article on education as a whole into the Constitution, which would have
guaranteed the right to what was then known as nation-wide recurrent
education, failed to pass in 1973. Rarely used today, the term recurrent
education refers to the right of all working adults to take paid leave
periodically for training purposes. The generally used term is continuing
education/training, which originally designated adult education and training
taking place outside working time.
Shared responsibilities
Since the failure of the 1973 referendum, continuing education has been
a responsibility which is divided among different federal departments,
governed by various federal and cantonal laws and often implemented by
professional associations, whose policies and courses are not well coordinated. At the Confederation level, the legislation on continuing education
concerns vocational training and higher education institutions, while other
provisions cover the promotion of culture and retraining measures in the
unemployment insurance act.
However, the following concepts are contained in the legislation: “general
training of adults”, “adult education” and “job-related continuing training”.
Job-related continuing training falls under the heading of vocational training,
as does adult education and also the general training of adults.
Adult education that is not directly job related is first and foremost the
responsibility of the cantons. Job-related continuing training in the strict
sense of job retraining is the responsibility of the Confederation.
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Preference for a free market
In the field of continuing training, Switzerland gives preference to a free
market rather than to strict government regulation. It is therefore not
surprising that this field is the least well co-ordinated and regulated of all
education and training fields. Consequently, continuing training is dominated
by the private sector, which until recently met 80% of the demand.
Federal initiatives
In 1990, the Confederation launched its continuing training offensive on
the basis of a Federal message to Parliament proposing special measures on
continuing training. This initiative has two main objectives. At the economic
level, it is aimed at combating the shortage of trained specialists. At the social
level, it is aimed at ensuring an effective supply of continuing training during
a period of rapid technological change and increasing rapid accumulation of
new knowledge, which makes lifelong learning a necessity.
To ensure the development of continuing training in universities and to
create continuing training services, a special appropriation of SF 77.5 million
was provided to the eight (now ten) cantonal universities and the two federal
institutes of technology for the 1990-1996 period. In 1996, in order to ensure
the continuity of the activities provided by university continuing training
services, the Confederation decided to continue to subsidise them until 1999,
and an additional SF 11.5 million was provided to universities.
Co-ordinating group
A working group of the continuing training services of higher education
institutions was created within the former Swiss University Conference (CUS).
With financial support from the Federal Office for Education and Science
(OFES), this group established swissUNI, a database making it possible to find
on the web all university continuing training courses offered. The purpose of
this group is to co-ordinate activities between continuing training services,
promote continuing training in universities and facilitate exchange of
information on continuing training. Now that federal measures have ended,
the universities continue to provide many continuing training courses, which
are self-financed in most cases.
Universities of applied sciences: numerous post-graduate programmes
The development of continuing training in universities of applied
sciences has generally followed similar patterns as in the universities. In 1996,
in connection with the reform and reorganisation of vocational training,
professional development (or continuing training) and post-graduate
education were also included in the legislation as part of the UAS’ new
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educational missions (together with applied R&D and service provision). The
goal is to make an additional contribution to technology and knowledge
transfer. Today, the USA offer some 140 recognised post-graduate
programmes. The full list is available on the Internet site of the Federal Office
for Professional Education and Technology (OFFT), www.admin.ch/bbt.
Labour force survey
A recent study carried out by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office provided
a relatively full picture of the behaviour of the adult population with respect to
continuing training during the period between spring 1995 and spring 2000. In
April 2000, 39% of Swiss residents between the ages of 20 and 74 said that they
had participated in continuing training courses during the 12 months prior to
the interview. This annual proportion remained virtually unchanged
throughout the entire period covered. Most of those who participate in
training do so for professional reasons. In this regard, it is interesting to
note that nine out of ten of those who took courses also work. Participation in
continuing training only declines significantly slightly before retirement.
This study also shows that people with high education levels are
substantially over-represented in all types of knowledge acquisition, whether
it is self-learning or learning in an institutional setting. They participate three
times as often in continuing training courses as people with no postcompulsory education and five times as often as the latter in job-oriented
training courses. However, it should be pointed out that the likelihood of
participating in continuing training courses increases significantly once a
course has already been taken, regardless of the level of initial training.
Both men and women prefer to learn by taking courses, but generally not
for the same reasons, for unlike men, who mainly take courses for job-related
reasons, women chiefly take courses for reasons that are not job-related. This
difference is explained by the fact that women’s participation in the labour
force differs from men’s. It is less frequent for women to work on a full-time
basis and have high professional status than men. However, when their
professional status is the same, women’s rate of participation in professional
development is similar to men’s.
Continuing Training Forum
With the creation of the Continuing Training Forum in 2000, a Swiss
co-ordination and information body was established to address issues related to
continuing training (vocational and general training). Employers, employees,
associations, the cantons and the Confederation are all represented in this forum.
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3.7. The relation between Swiss higher education institutions,
the economy and society
The relations between Swiss higher education institutions and the
private sector have deep roots in history and in the evolution of ideas, and are
an integral part of higher education and its mission to society.
Cantonal and federal higher education institutions have strong roots
within their respective regions and among the local population, and play an
important role in ensuring continuity and renewing local cultural life and
identity. This justifies the relatively high degree of confidence that the
parliaments that finance them have in these institutions, and has provided a
basis for strengthening their autonomy. Swiss universities have been the focal
point around which many fields and institutions have developed, such as the
Swiss legal system, major public libraries, the health care sector, and the
historical and theological foundations of Swiss religious communities, and
they continue to play this role today. Swiss higher educational institutions
make a substantial contribution to what is now known as “social capital” in
fields that go well beyond technical and economic sciences alone. Lastly, Swiss
higher education institutions are a window onto Europe and the world, as well
as being a part of Europe and the world inside Switzerland.
The mission of higher education institutions
Teaching, research and the provision of services to the business
community, society and government institutions are an integral part of the
basic mission of higher education institutions.
Universities: expanding the scope of knowledge
The cantonal universities and federal institutes of technology follow the
traditional principle of the “unity of teaching and research” defined by
Humboldt. The acquisition of new knowledge and its transmission to students
and the scientific community are closely intertwined.
In accordance with various cantonal laws and the federal act on the federal
institutes of technology, universities transmit academic knowledge and thereby
lay the necessary foundation for exercising academic activities and professions.
Through their research work, universities increase scientific knowledge,
develop new methods and technologies and promote new academic talent.
They are responsible for university-level continuing education and provide
services related to their education and research missions.
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Universities of applied sciences: practically oriented teaching
and research
In the universities of applied sciences, students pursue studies leading to
degrees that prepare them to work in professions requiring the use of
scientific knowledge and methods. These UAS also do applied research and
development work and provide services to third parties. Through knowledge
and technology transfer, the UAS make the full range of their know-how
available to their partners in the business community and society at large. In
return, the teaching staff receives up-to-date feedback from practitioners.
In the view of Economiesuisse (www.economiesuisse.ch), the country’s
largest employers’ association, the universities of applied sciences can only be
successfully integrated into the system of higher education institutions if they
fully put into practice their new service provision mandate. According to
Economiesuisse, they must acquire specific competencies in applied research
and development in order to become innovative partners for the business
community, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Building bridges between the scientific community and society
In Switzerland as elsewhere, there is a growing apprehension about
scientific progress and concern over the ethical questions that it raises, in
connection with biotechnology, for example. For this reason, efforts have
recently been made to promote better understanding between the scientific
community, higher education institutions and society. In this regard, the
referendum on the so-called “genetic protection initiative” played an
important role, for it made researchers aware of the need to communicate
more fully and openly with the public.
If the scientific community is not to be isolated in its “ivory tower”, it must
not only transmit its knowledge and know-how to the outside world, but also
understand the economy – its needs, expectations and progress being made –
and recognise the hopes and fears of the population. Thus, although higher
education institutions contribute to the world outside, they also receive the
feedback of practical suggestions that enrich their understanding of problems
and enable them to broaden their scientific and technical programmes.
Promotion of dialogue by the “Science et Cité” Foundation
The “Science et Cité” Foundation (www.science-et-cite.ch) was established
in 1998 to promote the flow of information between the scientific community
and society at large and to enable them to know each other better. The
Foundation receives support from the Confederation, the business
community, scientific academies, public and private organisations and private
citizens. It promotes constructive dialogue and helps the scientific
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I.3.
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND
community and society to have a deeper understanding of each other by
building a climate of critical trust within society. It also assists universities
with their information mission and supports initiatives to make the scientific
community more aware of society’s concerns and to enable society to
understand scientific discoveries better.
In May 2001, the Foundation organised a festival held in Switzerland’s ten
university regions. This event, which brought together the research
community and the population, attracted over 300 000 visitors, making this
first festival a success. The next festival will probably be held in 2004.
A challenge for the knowledge and information society
A number of new developments have contributed to promoting closer
relations between higher education institutions and the business community
and society, such as new information and communication technologies and
the globalisation of the economy. These developments have heightened
competition between countries and made it more necessary for societies to be
able to transmit and use knowledge and skills in an even more rapid and
targeted way. These closer ties are also due to the stagnation of government
subsidies and the growing interest shown by higher education institutions in
raising funds from third parties.
National competence networks
The universities of applied sciences were created in the 1990s to reinforce
the scientific and practical orientation of education programmes and to
promote knowledge and technology transfer from higher education
institutions to the economy. The creation of national competence networks in
universities of applied sciences is a further step in this direction. To be
recognised by the Confederation, these networks are required to maintain
close ties with the business sector and society. Recognition also entails
additional requirements, including:
96
●
a clearly defined strategy, particularly as regards market positioning and
knowledge and technology transfer;
●
proven leadership in the field in question and presence of active leaders
within the network;
●
staff with technical and social competencies in charge of the network;
●
a network of relations and the ability to raise funds from third parties;
●
a reputation for excellence in the field and region concerned.
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TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND
Promoting technology transfer
In the 1980s and the early 1990s, many socio-economic studies reached
the conclusion that Switzerland had a very high level of scientific
performance, but that it failed to capitalise sufficiently on the knowledge and
know-how present within its education and research institutions.
Mentalities changed in the mid-1990s, as Swiss and European higher
education institutions realised that they had to open up to the outside world.
As a result, higher education institutions began to look outward and develop
closer relations with the business community and society, for example by
adding knowledge and know-how transfer to their list of objectives and by
opening up technology transfer, advice and service centres (see p. 72). The
Confederation supports this effort through the Swiss Network for Innovation
(RSI, see p. 89). The federal institute of technology Zurich alone has created
over 100 spin-offs during the past 15 years. What is more, these new
companies are on the whole solid, as is shown by their extraordinarily high
survival rate. Only 10% of new companies failed, as compared with a rate that
can be as high as 50% in the United States.
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ISBN 92-64-10308-2
Reviews of National Policies for Education
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
© OECD 2003
PART I
Chapter 4
The Financing of Tertiary Education
The cantons provide most of the financing for its ten cantonal
universities and colleges of higher education but the Confederation,
in addition to financing its own institutes of technology, also
provides support to the cantonal universities. The colleges of higher
education are also jointly financed, the federal share being onethird. The fields of study not covered by the federal universities of
applied sciences Act, such as teacher training, health, the fine arts,
etc., are financed independently by the cantons. More than twothirds of the research performed in Switzerland is funded by the
private sector.
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I.4.
THE FINANCING OF TERTIARY EDUCATION
4.1. The structure of the financing of universities
Originally, the cantons financed their universities independently, while
the Confederation was responsible for the federal institutes of technology.
Later the Confederation gradually began to contribute funds to promote
research and then started granting subsidies to the universities. However, the
cantons in which universities are located still bear the bulk of the costs,
although these have been partially shared with the other cantons for the past
two decades.
In addition to financing its own higher education institutions – the
federal institutes of technology – the Confederation is increasingly focusing on
the role of providing incentives, promoting research and covering needs that
the cantons cannot meet.
Table 4.1 shows the various sources of financing of the costs of
universities:
100
●
The majority of financing is provided by the cantons themselves. The bulk
of this financing is borne by the cantons in which universities are located,
although the other cantons contribute proportionately to the number of
their students enrolled (under the Intercantonal University Agreement,
which guarantees equal access of Swiss students to universities in
exchange for a financial contribution from their canton of origin).
●
The universities receive financing from the Confederation under the Federal
Act on Aid to Universities (Loi sur l’aide aux universités, LAU). The Confederation
contributes by providing basic subsidies (which have been decreasing
proportionately over the past two decades) and special appropriations for
incentive and innovation projects and programmes. The Confederation also
grants subsidies for investments (building programmes and major
investments) under federal act. The Confederation’s share in the financing of
universities varies significantly across cantons. This financing has not kept up
with the increase in university staff over the past twenty-five years.
●
The universities receive indirect financing from the Confederation
through the Swiss National Science Foundation, which manages the main
scientific research programmes, and through the Federal Office for
Education and Science, which manages participation in international and
European programmes.
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Number
of students
Main financial indicators for universities (Year 2000, x SF 1 000)
Total
budget
Contribution
of canton
where
university
is located
%
of budget
Contribution
%
of other
of budget
cantons (AIU)
Basic
Total
contribution contributions
of
of cantons
% of budget Confederation
%
of budget
Funds
provided by
the FNS
%
of budget
Basel
7 606
277 512
68 898
25
35 617
13
38
52 867
19
30 852
11
Bern
10 193
505 171
245 708
49
56 702
11
60
56 902
11
32 702
6
Fribourg
8 849
178 213
40 931
23
47 238
27
49
41 858
23
11 019
6
Geneva
13 178
541 095
298 839
55
30 109
6
61
59 334
11
44 871
8
9 893
326 767
137 034
42
37 631
12
53
45 833
14
32 244
10
Lausanne
Luzern
Neuchâtel
Zurich
Italian-speaking Switzerland
Combined total
EPF Lausanne
9 144
5 450
60
881
10
69
1 345
15
121
1
105 504
41 891
40
11 543
11
51
18 078
17
11 428
11
126 209
16 763
13
22 696
18
31
16 908
13
858
1
706 458
356 557
50
99 341
14
65
72 417
10
36 555
5
1 410
28 877
7 998
28
3 501
12
40
5 778
20
702
2
79 824
2 804 950
1 220 069
43
345 259
12
56
371 320
13
201 352
7
5 095
428 620
20 614
5
ETH Zurich
11 459
885 689
30 650
3
Total
96 378
4 119 259
252 616
6
Federal funds.
Cantonal funds.
Source: OFS; CDIP (AIU).
101
4 705
20 598
THE FINANCING OF TERTIARY EDUCATION
St. Gallen
256
3 136
I.4.
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Table 4.1.
I.4.
THE FINANCING OF TERTIARY EDUCATION
●
Universities also receive financing from third parties, and although the
amount of funds raised is small, it is by no means negligible and is on the rise.
The federal institutes of technology are entirely financed by the
Confederation and are increasingly managed independently. They also receive
funds from the Swiss National Science Foundation and international
programmes.
4.2. The structure of the financing of universities of applied
sciences
The universities of applied sciences are also jointly financed. Like the
cantonal universities, they are mainly financed by cantons or by groups of
cantons in regions that manage their own universities of applied sciences. The
fields of study not covered by the Federal universities of applied sciences Act
(LUAS), such as teacher training, social work, health, the fine arts, music, etc.,
are financed independently by the cantons. The Confederation’s share of the
joint financing of the UAS governed by the federal act is set at one-third of
ordinary administrative expenses; consequently, the Confederation plays a
more active role with the universities of applied sciences within its sphere.
The Confederation also promotes research – in this case applied research –
through the funds provided by the Commission for Technology and Innovation
of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs. As for the universities, an
inter-cantonal agreement ensures financial equalisation, encourages free
access to all students and guarantees equal treatment.
The apportionment of costs between the cantons and the Confederation
and among the cantons themselves is more equitable for the universities of
applied sciences than for the universities, for two main reasons. Firstly, the
rate of the Confederation’s subsidy is much higher (one-third) for universities
of applied sciences, and, secondly, nearly all cantons participate fully in either
a cantonal or regional UAS.
Like the universities, the UAS also receive subsidies for investments
(building projects and major investments) from the Confederation under the
Federal universities of applied sciences Act (the rate of subsidy is also one-third).
The criteria for subsidies
Approximately 80% of the SF 215 million allocated by the Confederation
is used to finance education programmes. As in universities, these funds are
apportioned differently among programmes depending on how they stand in
relation to the Swiss average (e.g. the number of students enrolled). Some 10%
of federal subsidies to universities of applied sciences are matching funds to
contributions provided by research promotion institutions, businesses and
other levels of government. The remaining 10% is provided to specific
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THE FINANCING OF TERTIARY EDUCATION
programmes or joint projects, in some cases to enable universities of applied
sciences to participate in programmes developed by universities.
This type of subsidy is aimed at improving each UAS’ potential
individually by increasing competition between them and promoting higher
quality education.
4.3. Education, research and technology 2000-2003
Financing
In December 1999, the Federal Parliament approved the SF 6.8 billion
financial framework requested by the government for the promotion of
education, research and technology for the 2000-2003 period (Education,
Research and Training Message).
This does not include the budget of the federal institutes of technology
for this period (SF 6.23 billion), grants paid by Switzerland to international
organisations and the financial resources provided for the research projects of
the federal administration.
If all budget items are added together, the total amount that the
Confederation is investing in education, research and training during the
2000-2003 period comes to approximately SF 13.76 billion.
Cantonal universities: new criteria for basic subsidies
The basic subsidies of SF 1.6 billion provided to the cantonal universities
constitute most of the total direct resources of SF 2 billion allocated by the
Confederation to these universities over a four-year period. Since 2000, the
apportionment of these subsidies, which until then had been based on
categories such as the teachers’ salaries, student enrolments and the financial
capacity of cantons, has been based on new criteria that take into account the
services provided by universities. The key factor is now the number of
students enrolled for the legal duration of studies, which is weighted by
academic disciplines. This duration is sixteen semesters in medicine and
twelve semesters in other disciplines. Some 70% of basic subsidies are
distributed among the different universities on the basis of this criterion. It
should be pointed out that the expenditure on foreign students is treated
separately, and 10% of the 70% is set aside for this purpose.
The importance of funds from third parties
The remaining 30% of basic subsidies are distributed as matching funds
to the contributions that each university obtains from third parties. The
research grants awarded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (FNS) are
relevant in this respect, as are projects assigned through the Commission for
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I.4.
THE FINANCING OF TERTIARY EDUCATION
Technology and Innovation (CTI), participation in EU projects and private
funds obtained (i.e. for research projects).
To counterbalance and reward
The new legislation on basic subsidies no longer takes into account the
size of the teaching staff other than indirectly through research. It is based on
the principle that universities that are able to attract large numbers of
students should be rewarded. The ability of universities to attract students
and funds for research from third parties are the only criteria used to assess
performance.
The Swiss government is also providing SF 250 million in financial aid to
investment to help universities to finance building projects costing over
SF 3 million. Project grants are the third major category of federal support,
together with basic subsidies and aid to investment. The Swiss University
Conference (CUS) decides how these grants are apportioned.
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ISBN 92-64-10308-2
Reviews of National Policies for Education
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
© OECD 2003
PART I
Chapter 5
Reforms in Tertiary Education
The Swiss education system is undergoing major reforms both at
the Confederation and canton levels. A new vocational stream at
the tertiary level was created in 1997. Further reforms are
envisioned in the planning period going up to 2007. A new article
to the constitution that aims to improve co-operation between the
Confederation and the cantons in the realm of colleges and
universities will be the subject of a popular referendum in 2003.
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I.5.
REFORMS IN TERTIARY EDUCATION
T
he upheavals caused by globalisation are also affecting the education
systems of the industrialised countries. This is particularly true of higher
education systems, which transform data into new knowledge that they then
make available to society.
Because of this knowledge producing function, higher education
institutions play a key role in the modern knowledge-based society and
economy, since they provide knowledge as a factor of production that is
crucial to the vitality of companies and the prosperity of countries.
Pressure for reform of education, research and technology systems
It is therefore not surprising that the education, research and technology
systems of industrial countries face pressure for reform. Higher education
institutions are subject to new constraints that will have considerable impact
on their development:
106
●
The financing of higher education institutions will be increasingly oriented
towards promoting competition and co-operation in science and
technology. This means that these institutions must have a certain
autonomy in order to make strategic decisions and adapt to the
development of knowledge as rapidly as possible.
●
The cost of state-of-the-art research based on increasingly sophisticated
data processing is rising continually. This means that there is a growing
need to set priorities for the development of education, research and
technology systems, especially in small countries with limited resources
that must make choices in order to maintain their performance.
●
Society is increasingly reluctant to accept scientific and technological
progress and its ability to manipulate the natural world. The best way of
mastering science is to ensure that it is fully integrated into a society’s
culture so that it can be questioned and better understood. Building a
climate of critical confidence is now an integral part of science policy.
●
Knowledge and technology transfer to business and industry is a major
development. Modern innovation policy combines many different
approaches, and one of the key measures is to promote and support ties
between the private sector and science.
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I.5. REFORMS IN TERTIARY EDUCATION
5.1. The process of reform of Swiss higher education institutions,
2000-2007
The goal and policy orientation of reform
For the past several years, a process of reform of higher education
institutions has been under way in Switzerland. The Swiss government and
parliament have set a timetable for the reforms, which will cover the
2000-2007 period. This should make it possible to avoid endless reforms that
would destabilise the education, research and technology system.
Through this reform, the government wishes to develop a creative
environment, which is recognised internationally and able to attract the best
teachers and researchers, train the best students, co-operate with the best
private and public corporations and be open to society.
This reform is focused primarily on higher education institutions.
However, it will not be successful unless it goes hand in hand with an
improved framework for vocational training, primary and secondary
education and the innovation system.
The cantons, with the support of the Confederation and the new
instruments available (the Swiss University Conference, Rectors’ Conference
of the Swiss Universities, Council for universities of applied sciences, Swiss
Conference of universities of applied sciences), are also rising to the challenge
of reforming their higher education institutions. These reforms, made
possible by the complete revamping of cantonal legislation in the 1990s, are
currently being implemented, and new types of management and a
reorganisation are beginning to bear fruit. The higher education institutions
are now beginning to pool their resources, to provide a more balanced supply
of education in their respective regions and to form genuine networks.
First stage: the 2000-2003 message
In the first stage of the reform, in order to ensure the transparency and
consistency of policy regarding the education, research and technology
system, in 1999 the Federal Council submitted a message to Parliament
presenting legislative measures aimed at promoting the education, research
and technology system for the 2000-2003 period. The Swiss Parliament
accepted the message without serious opposition.
Network excellence
The measures proposed in the message on the education, research and
technology system go well beyond merely continuing the policy implemented
until the end of the 1990s. The Federal Council has summarised its ideas
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I.5.
REFORMS IN TERTIARY EDUCATION
under the theme “To reform and invest”. Two main ideas stand out in the
proposals contained in the message:
●
Higher education institutions must co-operate with each other more than
in the past. The goal is to create networks in tertiary education that will
make it possible to take full advantage of the existing potential.
●
Quality must be more important than quantity. Priority must be given to
promoting recognised competencies and future-oriented fields. The pursuit
of excellence in the fields in which Swiss science is already active must be
given priority over covering a broad range of themes. Promotion of young
scientific talent and of women in particular is of special importance in this
regard.
The Federal Council has summed up its policy orientations for the
2000-2003 subsidy period in five strategic objectives:
1. to create networks of higher education institutions;
2. to integrate these networks into international co-operation programmes;
3. to promote excellence in education and research;
4. to apply knowledge more effectively;
5. to improve and develop the effectiveness of networks of higher education
institution.
The new operating rules
To achieve the goals of the reform, in the message on the education,
research and technology system the Swiss government has proposed a series
of innovations, some of which are substantial. One of the key aspects is the
revision of the Act on Aid to Universities (LAU), which will introduce new
operating rules for universities.
Competition and co-operation
The basic concept is to make higher education institutions more
autonomous and to enable them to compete with each other while cooperating more closely in certain fields. In this system of networks combining
competition and co-ordination, the Swiss University Conference plays a key
role.
Performance-based subsidies
The new legal basis also includes major new aspects in the field of
financing. The introduction of subsidies based on the quality of the services
provided marks the end of the “automatic payment” policy. The allocation of
subsidies is based more on the quality of education and research, according to
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I.5. REFORMS IN TERTIARY EDUCATION
the principle that funding should “follow students”, who choose the best
education available.
The awarding of contributions in connection with specific projects and
the attribution of national centres of competence in research “reward” those
research institutions that provide services recognised as being of particularly
high quality. For universities of applied sciences, the creation of national
networks of competence should make it possible to concentrate financial
resources.
Preparing the integration of universities of applied sciences
Regarding universities of applied sciences, the main thrust of the Federal
Council’s message is the continuing establishment of these schools at a steady
pace during the 2000-2003 period, to be followed by a second stage in which
they will be fully integrated into higher education institutions.
Quality assessment
Quality assessment is an indispensable condition for healthy
competition between higher education institutions. Under the new Act on Aid
to Universities (LAU), this assessment will be carried out nation-wide using
uniform criteria. An accreditation and quality assurance body, funded jointly
by the Confederation and the cantons, has been created for this purpose
(see p. 47).
Although the universities of applied sciences are not yet represented in
the Swiss University Conference, their programmes are also to be accredited
by this body. Furthermore, in 2001 the programmes of UAS under federal
supervision underwent a peer review aimed at assessing the scientific quality
of these schools. Each of these individual reports is currently being evaluated
by a group of scientists. Through this peer review, the Confederation is seeking
to determine the quality level attained at a given time and to suggest ways of
improving it.
The second stage of the reform: a new article of the Constitution
At the end of 2001, the Swiss government launched a project, which will
soon be ready, of a new article of the Constitution aimed at improving
co-operation between the Confederation and the cantons in the field of higher
education.
Third stage: the Federal Council’s 2004-2007 message
In the 2000-2003 period, the Federal Council’s objective is to establish, in
co-operation with the cantons, the indispensable framework for the effective
functioning of higher education institutions. The Federal Council will propose
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I.5.
REFORMS IN TERTIARY EDUCATION
specific objectives in the 2004-2007 Message. Two laws are currently being
revised, i.e. the act on federal institutes of technology, which is aimed at giving
them greater autonomy, and the act on universities of applied sciences, which
is aimed primarily at broadening the scope of this law to the fields of health,
social work, art, applied psychology and applied linguistics. The new law
should lay the legal basis for applying the Bologna Declaration to universities
of applied sciences.
Fourth stage: the message on the laws reflecting the new constitutional
basis
The objective for the 2004-2007 period is to unify the tertiary education
system and create knowledge networks on the basis of the article to the
Constitution being prepared and the new Act on Aid to Universities (LAU) of
8 October 1999. Consequently, the 2003-2007 message will request a
considerable increase in financial resources for concrete projects and ask for
certain legislative amendments. Parliament will state its position in
autumn 2003.
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ANNEX TABLES
ANNEX TABLES
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111
ANNEX TABLES
Annex Table 1.
Fields of study in universities
Who offers what? Overview of the main fields of study offered in universities
Fields of study
Uni
BS
Uni
BE
●
●
Uni
FR
Uni
GE
Uni
LS
●
●
Uni
LU
Uni
TI
●
●5
Uni
NE
Uni
SG
Uni
EPFL ETHZ
ZH
Theology
Protestant theology
●
Roman Catholic theology
Christian (Old) Catholic theology
●
Religious studies
●
●
●
●
●
●
Law
Law
●
●
Forensic science (scientific police),
criminology
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
x
x
●
x
Economic sciences
Economics
●
●
●
Computer science in business
●
x
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
x
●
x
●
x
x
●
●
Social and political sciences
●
Political science
Sociology
●
●
●
●
●
●
Social work
Media sciences/journalism
●
●
x
Communication sciences
Sports sciences
●
x
x
x
x
●
●
x
●
x
●
●
x
●
Psychology and education
Psychology
●
●
●
●
Pedagogy/educational sciences
x
●
●
●
●
Remedial education
●
●
Speech pathology and therapy
●
●
●
Psychomotor learning
●
●
●
●
●
x
●
x
●
x
●
x
●
●
Philosophy, languages, literature, anthropology
Philosophy/Logic
●
●
x
●
●
x
x
●
●
●
●
●
●
Classical philology
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
German language and literature
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
x
Romance philology
●
●
●
●
●
x
French language and literature
●
●
●
●
x
Linguistics and Indo-European languages x
French as a foreign language
●
●
●
●
●
●
x
Italian language and literature
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
x
Iberian languages and literatures
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
x
●
●
●
●
●
●
x
Rhaeto-Romanic languages
and literatures
English language and literatures
112
●
●
History and philosophy of science
●
●
x
x
x
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ANNEX TABLES
Annex Table 1.
Fields of study in universities (cont.)
Who offers what? Overview of the main fields of study offered in universities
Uni
BS
Uni
BE
Uni
FR
Uni
GE
Uni
LS
Slavic languages and literatures
●
●
●
●
●
Nordic philology
●
Fields of study
●
Modern Greek language
and literature
●
●
Uni
TI
Uni
NE
Uni
SG
Uni
EPFL ETHZ
ZH
●
x
●
Chinese and Japanese languages and
literatures
Near and Middle Eastern languages and
civilisations
Uni
LU
●
●
●
●
x
●
x
●
Translation and interpretation
Anthropology
●
Popular traditions
●
●
●
●
●
●
Historical sciences
Classical archaeology
●
●
Palaeochristian archaeology
x
●
●
●
●
●
Prehistoric archaeology
●
●
x
●
History
●
●
●
●
●
●
History and science of religions
x
●
●
●
●
x
●
●
●
●
x
●
x
Judaism
x
Art history
●
●
●
●
●
●
x
●
●
x
●
x
History and aesthetics of cinema
x
●
Theatre
●
●
●
●
Mathematics
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
Computer sciences
x
●
●
●
●3
●
x
●
●
●
●
Musicology
●
x
Exact and natural sciences
Computer sciences and mathematical
methods in human sciences
x
Mathematical statistics
●
●
Physics
●
●
Astronomy
●
●
●
x
Chemistry
●
●
●
●
●
●
Biology
●
●
●
●
●
●
Biochemistry
●
●1
●
●
x
Earth science
●
●
●
●
●
Environmental sciences
x
x
x
●
Geography
●
●
●
●
Natural sciences
x
●
●
●
●
x
●
●
●
●
●
x
●
●
●
●
x
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
●
x
●
●
●
●
●
Computer-based sciences
Medicine and pharmacy
Human medicine
●
●
●3
●
Dentistry
●
●
●3
●
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
●
●4
●
●4
●
113
ANNEX TABLES
Annex Table 1.
Fields of study in universities (cont.)
Who offers what? Overview of the main fields of study offered in universities
Uni
BS
Uni
BE
Pharmacy
●
●3
Health-care science
●
Fields of study
Uni
FR
Uni
GE
Uni
LS
●3
●
●
Uni
LU
Uni
TI
Uni
NE
●
Veterinary medicine
Uni
SG
Uni
EPFL ETHZ
ZH
●
●3
●
Architecture and engineering sciences
Architecture
●6
●
●
●
Civil engineering
●
●
Agricultural engineering
●
●
Surveying
●
Environmental engineering2
●
Mechanics
●
Forestry
●
Agronomy
●
●
Food technology
●
Mechanics
●3
Microtechnology
Electricity
Communications systems
●
Production and business management
x
●
●
●
●
●
Materials sciences
●
●
●
●
●
Chemical engineering
●
Physical engineering
●
●
● Major.
x Minor.
1. Major in chemistry or biology, with a degree in biochemistry.
2. Agricultural engineering degree, with a specialisation in environmental engineering.
3. First cycle only.
4. First year only.
5. Programme not recognised by the Confederation.
6. 2nd cycle only.
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
114
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
ANNEX TABLES
Annex Table 2. Rates of academic maturity certificate
granted in 1999 by canton
Rates of academic maturity certificate
GE
31.69%
TI
28.87%
NE
24.36%
JU
23.75%
BS
21.86%
VD
21.34%
FR
21.02%
VS
19.52%
ZH
19.25%
BL
19.10%
GL
15.95%
AR
15.93%
SH
15.65%
AG
15.59%
SO
15.31%
ZG
15.30%
GR
14.72%
NW
14.07%
SZ
13.38%
BE
12.59%
SG
11.83%
AI
11.46%
LU
11.24%
TG
10.71%
UR
9.44%
OW
8.86%
CH
17.86%
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
115
ANNEX TABLES
Annex Table 3.
Rate of maturités professionnelles (vocational secondary
certificates) granted in 2000 by canton
Number of maturités
professionnelles
Permanent resident
population 21 years of age
Rate of maturités
professionnelles
ZH
1 172
14 135
8.3%
BE
998
10 229
9.8%
LU
376
4 277
8.8%
UR
41
420
9.8%
SZ
88
1 589
5.5%
OW
12
392
3.1%
NW
24
351
6.8%
GL
36
421
8.6%
ZG
97
1 185
8.2%
9.0%
FR
264
2 947
SO
194
2 736
7.1%
BS
84
2 060
4.1%
BL
256
2 661
9.6%
SH
116
778
14.9%
AR
65
492
13.2%
AI
6
175
3.4%
SG
469
5 302
8.8%
GR
188
2 140
8.8%
AG
429
6 379
6.7%
TG
191
2 533
7.5%
TI
322
3 260
9.9%
VD
437
7 076
6.2%
VS
251
3 505
7.2%
NE
157
1 957
8.0%
GE
110
4 728
2.3%
JU
77
775
9.9%
6 460
82 503
7.8%
Total
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
116
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
ANNEX TABLES
Annex Table 4.
Number of men and women among university students
in 2000, by university
Men
Women
Total
Basel
4 029
3 577
7 606
Bern
5 280
4 913
10 193
Fribourg
4 210
4 639
8 849
Geneva
5 599
7 579
13 178
Lausanne
4 765
5 128
9 893
137
119
256
1 553
1 583
3 136
Luzern
Neuchâtel
St. Gallen
Zurich
Italian-speaking Switzerland
3 525
1 180
4 705
10 077
10 521
20 598
1 410
695
715
EPF Lausanne
4 182
913
5 095
EPF Zurich
8 441
3 018
11 459
52 493
43 885
96 378
Total
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
Annex Table 5.
Number of men and women among students in colleges
of higher education in 2000, by institution
Men
Women
Total
Berner Fachhochschule
3 398
788
4 186
Haute école spécialisée de Suisse occidentale
4 325
1 336
5 661
Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz
2 516
881
3 397
Fachhochschule Zentralschweiz
1 446
460
1 906
Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana
644
218
862
Fachhochschule Ostschweiz
2 098
340
2 438
Zürcher Fachhochschule
3 720
2 114
5 834
365
253
618
18 512
6 390
24 902
Other schools (not integrated into the system)
Total
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
117
ANNEX TABLES
Annex Table 6.
Activity rate (%) in 2000 by university
Teaching
R&D
Other activities
Basel
31.3
54.8
13.9
Bern
31.4
45.5
23.1
Fribourg
37.9
41.3
20.8
Geneva
34.6
52.8
12.6
Lausanne
32.7
47.7
19.6
Luzern
54.3
33.5
12.1
Neuchâtel
37.0
48.8
14.2
St. Gallen
52.1
32.5
15.4
Zurich
34.6
40.5
24.9
Italian-speaking Switzerland
72.3
27.7
0.0
EPF Lausanne
35.6
48.5
15.9
EPF Zurich
32.8
55.2
12.0
Total
34.5
48.3
17.2
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
Annex Table 7.
Breakdown of staff by university in 2000
(en personnes)
Permanent faculty
Number
%
Other teaching staff
Assistants and other
scientific staff
Number
Number
%
%
Administrative
and technical staff
Number
Total
%
BS
261
8.9
761
25.9
1 097
37.4
818
27.8
2 937
BE
262
7.1
489
13.3
1 510
41.1
1 413
38.5
3 674
FR
224
13.2
324
19.0
612
36.0
542
31.8
1 702
GE
371
9.4
781
19.9
1 365
34.7
1 413
36.0
3 930
LS
339
14.6
513
22.0
944
40.5
532
22.9
2 328
LU
16
15.5
47
45.6
15
14.6
25
24.3
103
NE
117
13.3
158
18.0
471
53.8
131
14.9
877
76
10.2
199
26.7
323
42.3
148
19.8
746
7 538
HSG
ZH
395
5.2
2 023
26.8
3 024
40.2
2 096
27.8
USI
112
31.2
56
15.6
151
42.1
40
11.1
359
EPFL
155
6.8
85
3.7
1 180
51.9
854
37.64
2 274
ETHZ
347
4.6
510
6.8
4 533
60.5
2 103
28.1
7 493
Total
2 675
7.9
5 946
17.5
15 225
44.8
10 115
29.8
33 961
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
118
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ANNEX TABLES
Annex Table 8.
Staff of colleges of higher education in 2000 by institution
(in full-time equivalents)
Permanent
faculty
Number
Other
teaching staff
Assistants
and other
scientific staff
%
Number
%
Number
%
Administrative
and technical
staff
Number
Total
%
Haute école spécialisée bernoise
385
44.4
111
12.8
166
19.1
206
23.7
868
Haute école spécialisée
de Suisse occidentale
500
39.8
77
6.1
226
18.0
451
35.9
1 255
Fachhochschule
Nordwestschweiz
180
29.0
138
22.2
106
17.1
198
31.9
621
Fachhochschule Zentralschweiz
114
28.7
102
25.7
65
16.4
117
29.5
397
224
Scuola universitaria professionale
della Svizzera italiana
30
13.4
59
26.3
71
31.7
63
28.1
Fachhochschule Ostschweiz
149
25.9
107
18.6
171
29.7
149
25.9
575
Zürcher Fachhochschule
372
34.0
247
22.6
123
11.2
351
32.1
1 094
1 730
34.4
841
16.7
928
18.4
1 535
30.5
5 034
Total
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
119
ANNEX TABLES
Annex Table 9.
Rate of men and women receiving university degrees
by canton in 2000
Men
Women
Total
ZH
8.9%
7.6%
8.3%
BE
9.6%
5.9%
7.7%
LU
9.4%
5.8%
7.6%
UR
9.7%
5.2%
7.5%
SZ
8.3%
5.3%
6.8%
OW
16.0%
4.3%
10.0%
NW
12.8%
5.8%
9.3%
GL
6.2%
4.1%
5.2%
ZG
10.8%
7.5%
9.1%
FR
11.5%
9.0%
10.3%
SO
10.2%
6.7%
8.5%
BS
11.2%
6.2%
8.7%
12.5%
BL
14.7%
10.2%
SH
11.8%
7.5%
9.7%
AR
13.3%
7.8%
10.3%
AI
12.0%
1.0%
6.5%
SG
10.1%
5.3%
7.7%
GR
9.4%
6.6%
7.9%
AG
9.4%
7.0%
8.2%
TG
7.9%
3.9%
5.8%
TI
13.1%
11.2%
12.1%
VD
11.4%
10.6%
11.0%
10.3%
VS
11.2%
9.3%
NE
13.9%
10.7%
12.3
GE
17.8%
17.7%
17.7%
JU
11.3%
7.1%
9.2%
Total
11.8%
9.0%
10.4%
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
120
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
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Schlegel, R. and M. Gross (2000), Wir orientieren sich Schwyzer Maturandinnen und
Maturanden in der Berufs- und Studienwahl? Universität Zürich.
Schräder-Naef, R., J. Bodart and J. Senn, (1999), La formation des adultes en Suisse,
Background Report for OECD.
Schweizerische Hochschulkonferenz (1997), “Empfehlungen im Hinblick auf eine
Verbesserung der Situation des Mittelbaus und des schweizerischen
Hochschulsystems”, Dokument 920/97, Bern.
Science Com SA, Vision – le Magazine suisse de la science et de l’innovation, numéros
parus entre 1998 et 2001.
Sieber, H. (1999), “État de la situation : réseaux de compétences nationaux des HES”,
Lettre du directeur de l’Office fédéral de la formation professionnelle et de la
technologie et président de la CTI du 19 mai 1999.
Spiess Huldi, C. (2000), Von der Fachhochschule ins Berufsleben, Absolventenbefragung 1999,
Bundesamt für Statistik, Neuchâtel.
Tremp M., C. Gehrig and R. Nägeli (SZfH), (1999), Zur Regelung von Anerkennungsfragen
im Bereich des höheren Bildungswesens in der Schweiz und im europäischen Umfeld, Bern.
Universität Basel, Regenzkommission Mittelbau (1999), “Massnahmen zur
Verbesserung der Situation des Mittelbaus an der Universität Basel”.
Von Matt, H-K., W. Wicki and S. Hördegen (1999), Stipendienreport 1999: Vergleiche,
Analysen, Tendenzen, Bundesamt für Bildung und Wissenschaft, Bern.
Weber, B.A. and S.C. Wolter (1999), “Wages and Human Capital: Evidence from
Switzerland”, Asplund, R. and P. Telhado Pereira (eds.), Returns to Human Capital in
Europe: A Literature Review, Helsinki: ETLA 1999, pp. 325-350.
Weber, B.A., S.C. Wolter and A. Wirz (2001), “Returns to Human Capital in
Switzerland”, Harmon, C., I. Walker and N. Westergaard-Nielson (2001), Education
and Earnings in Europe, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Weber, K. (1999), “Switzerland: Discussion of University Reform and its
implementation”, Higher Education Policy, Series 53, Jessica Kingsley Publishers,
London and Philadelphia.
Weber, K. (2000), Wissenschaft, Weiterbildung und Kleinstaatlichkeit, Koordinationsstelle für
Weiterbildung der Universität Bern.
Weber, K. and J. Wittpoth (1999), Discourse, Structure and Practice of Continuing
Education: a Comparison between Switzerland and Germany, International Review
of Education, 45 (5/6), pp. 547-560.
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PART II
Examiners’ Report
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ISBN 92-64-10308-2
Reviews of National Policies for Education
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
© OECD 2003
PART II
Chapter 6
Introduction
This chapter, the first of the six chapters of the Examiners’ Report,
describes the terms of reference and the purposes and process of
the OECD review. It sets the stage for the remaining five chapters
by outlining the main challenges facing tertiary education in
Switzerland.
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6.1. Tertiary policies and the function of an OECD review
Tertiary education policies in modern advanced societies must recognise
and integrate a high degree of complexity, balancing diverse and at times
conflicting demands. Consider:
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●
Tertiary education is expected to transmit, preserve and question
established knowledge as well as to generate new knowledge. It welcomes
the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake yet also seeks to harness new
knowledge for innovation and for relevant practical application. It must
reflect culture, society’s values, and personal development interests on the
one hand, and respond to technological advances and economic
imperatives on the other. And, while it plays a crucial role in strengthening
these purposes at country level, tertiary education functions within an
increasingly interdependent global setting.
●
Tertiary education is expected to foster the development of general
knowledge as well as specific professional skills. In providing preparation
for professional life it encompasses the acquisition of both, so that the
student can apply established knowledge and critical abilities to question
conventional wisdom.
●
Teaching and research have to be promoted in ways that exploit the potential
for cross-fertilisation; neither function should undermine the other.
Moreover, quality in teaching and research must be evaluated on the basis of
several criteria, with outputs and outcomes judged in relation to costs. The
most advanced high-quality research and teaching in some segments of
tertiary education have to be reconciled with the need to educate increasing
numbers of students and to disseminate knowledge broadly.
●
The basis for access to tertiary education programmes must balance merit
with equality of opportunity and equity. Learning opportunities once
designed primarily for young adults preparing for initial entry into active
life now must accommodate growing numbers who are at later stages of
their careers and lives, and who have a wide range of educational
backgrounds, work experiences and learning aims. Thus tertiary education
caters to both youth needing learning support and adults making
independent choices. Teachers rely on face-to-face teaching and learning,
but now also have ample opportunities to exploit the potential of virtual
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communication – a development that poses a challenge for the generation
of teachers unfamiliar with the related new phenomena.
Moreover, policies must adapt to changing conditions. Although available
information shows country differences in patterns and trends, and views
differ about the evolution of tasks and functions, a consensus has emerged
about several “mega-trends”. Tertiary education is likely to continue to expand
as a consequence of growing individual demand, increasing calls for highly
qualified labour, and the growing complexity of life in today’s society. This
expansion is likely to be accompanied by a growing diversity in the
programmes and pathways followed by learners as well as in the profile of
institutions. Growth and diversity in tertiary-level education are linked to the
emerging “knowledge society” in which industry and services – indeed,
activities in all spheres of life – become increasingly knowledge-based.
Informed choices have to be taken by a growing number of members of
society. In view of these trends it is vital to improve education and research
systems, for the smooth performance of economies and the well-being of
societies. Tertiary education systems will no longer be shaped solely by
conditions and policies within country borders. An acceleration of forces
favouring the internationalisation of tertiary education could entail a
reconsideration of country-level policies and provision.
Indeed, the very governance and administration of tertiary education are
now under review. Rapidly evolving developments and growing demand and
pressures for efficiency under constrained public budgets have given rise to
new approaches to steering at system level, i.e. moves in the OECD area to
sharpen target setting and introduce accountability and assessment
requirements. At the same time, authorities are reducing detailed supervision,
strengthening managerial capacities, and widening the scope for strategic
initiative at institution level to promote sharper institutional profiles, greater
visibility, improved efficiency and greater impact.
In charting reforms in tertiary education, policy makers and stakeholders
now look in three directions. What development path will best respond
– simultaneously – to the universal dimensions of knowledge, global
economic and social interdependencies, and shared concerns for achievement
and modernisation? What traditions and contexts need be considered in
shaping the future of the sector? What policy options are feasible, taking into
account desired norms and values?
OECD reviews of national education policies provide a well-established
means for country authorities to engage their peers in examining these
questions. They offer opportunities for information gathering, reflection in
the framework of international comparison, dialogue with experienced
experts in research and practice and policy exchange among senior officials.
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The reviews examine education and training systems with regard to economic
performance – e.g. links between tertiary education and the labour market,
relationships between research and economic/technological development
(including trends of and policies to foster innovation). And the examinations
of economic performance conceived widely, taking on board issues of critical
thinking, pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, equity, cultural enhancement,
and the values of actors competing with those of a homo economicus. Reflection
within a narrow scope would carry the risk of an insufficient understanding of
the complexity of the system and of the possible policy options. Further, there
is recognition in OECD education policy reviews that countries will follow their
own specific policy course, departing as may be appropriate from otherwise
common policies and views. The value of the policy review, then, lies in
bringing country-level policy thinking and initiative to a wider group of
officials and experts from other OECD countries.
Countries inviting the OECD to undertake a review choose specific sectors
for an in-depth review, in light of individual country circumstances and policy
interests. The issues and policy experience under more intensive review in
one country often resonate with emerging if not ongoing policy concerns in
other member countries. In this respect, the review of tertiary education
policy in Switzerland comes at a time when substantial policy activity has
been directed to the sectors in that country and elsewhere. Over the past ten
years, education reviews in Austria, Mexico, Finland (twice) and the transition
economies of the then Czech and Slovak Federal Republic and the Russian
Federation focused on tertiary education policy. The OECD’s thematic review
of the first years of tertiary education eventually engaged twelve member
countries and the People’s Republic of China in a review effort focused on this
sector. In the Swiss case, the present review also builds on and to some extent
follows up an OECD review of education policy largely concerned with
schooling that was concluded in 1991.
6.2. The characteristics of tertiary education in Switzerland
Switzerland is a small, economically advanced country in the centre of
Europe. At the beginning of the 21st century, this group of outside observers
notes in Switzerland both pride in the achievements of tertiary education and
widespread views that reforms are needed in that domain. The debates in
Switzerland over continuity versus change are shaped by a belief that the
country has unique features, and adopts distinctive policy approaches
appropriate to the setting. Yet at the same time, there is a sense that Swiss
tertiary education is not, and should not be, set apart from growing global
interdependence in teaching and research. There are at least four
characteristics that tend to be regarded as essential features of the national
and regional tertiary education landscape.
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First, Swiss officials, institution administrators, experts and other parties
tend to be proud that a relatively small and selective national system of
university-based education – formally divided into universities established by
the Cantons and institutes of technology established by the Confederation
– boasts high quality in research, notably in science and engineering but also
in law, social sciences, theology and the arts. Also, generally they are
convinced that graduates from university-based programmes, as a rule, have
acquired a high level of competence and knowledge.
This view of the high quality of tertiary education and research certainly
is well founded. It may well be, though, that successes thus far tend to
reinforce an overemphasis on the achievements already attained and generate
too little concern about current needs and potentials for the country. Tertiary
education quality, for example, is most often described in academic terms
– i.e. quantities and qualities of research output – less often in terms of its
contribution to the economy, and hardly at all in terms of the contribution to
resolving major problems of technology, the economy, society and culture.
Moreover, the emphasis on high quality in the past is not equally matched
with concern for equality of opportunity, nor for the potential benefits of
tertiary education in professional areas. Nonetheless, a need was felt by many
to expand the system, and steps were taken in this direction in the 1980s and
more vigorously in the 1990s. Further, measures were introduced to
strengthen the relevance of research to the needs of the economy and society.
However, the major emphasis remains academic quality and selectivity of the
system, as is evident when for example the implications of the emerging
knowledge society are discussed.
Second, a strong and broad system of vocational training exists alongside
university education. The majority of young adults are trained in an
apprenticeship system. Along with its terminal function of pre-career
training, the apprenticeship system provides relatively open access to
advanced levels of vocational training. By and large, the vocational training
sector is deemed to be of good quality and to offer access to occupations and
incomes that are not much different from those of university graduates. There
was no strong sense of inequality, nor had there been any strong drift of
students towards university education. As a consequence, until the 1990s
there was no interest in facilitating transition between vocational training and
university education, or in strengthening the research base of teaching and
teachers in the advanced levels of the former. Only in the 1990s were steps
taken to increase the general entry requirements, upgrade some of the
vocational institutions to tertiary level, and strengthen the research base of
vocational training.1
Third, Switzerland takes pride in its highly decentralised political system
in which Cantons play a strong role and popular votes frequently resolve
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political issues. The system helps to maintain a regional diversity that is
highly valued; at the same time, it requires consensus building in political
processes. It also leads to complex arrangements that set out responsibilities
of individual Cantons, co-operation between Cantons, Federal-Cantonal cooperation and specific Federal responsibilities with respect to the steering,
supervision and funding of tertiary education. This has ensured local support
and pride in the past; it also has left room for major Federal action in some
domains, most visibly in the establishment of Federal institutes of technology.
However, the high degree of decentralisation and the difficulties of nationwide
co-ordination have often discouraged major reforms in tertiary education.
Those responsible for such reforms feel the friction between dynamic
pressures for change and the more cautious approach of the political system.
Fourth, tertiary education in Switzerland is characterised by a diversity of
culture and language. The mother tongue of almost two-thirds of the
population is German; one-fifth speak French and almost one-tenth speak
Italian. About 1% speak Romansh. Approximately 20% of the population are
foreign citizens, among whom about half speak predominantly other
languages. This provides a cultural wealth and often enriches everyday life
and work in the various regions. The individual language areas ensure close
ties to neighbour countries, i.e. Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, France and
Italy. For example, mobility of academic staff and students between these
countries and the neighbouring Cantons sharing the language is high.
Altogether, about 20% of students in tertiary education in Switzerland are
foreign citizens, reflecting the total population share, and the proportion of
foreign academics is even higher. In contrast, mobility from Switzerland to
other countries seems to be substantially lower. Available data are incomplete
but provide some indication of the flows: 1.2% of Swiss students undertake
part of their studies in other countries in the framework of the European
Union’s ERASMUS programme; 13% of recent graduates had travelled outside
of Switzerland at least once during the course of their studies; and, if crossCanton travel for any purpose is taken into account, about one-quarter of all
Swiss students have left their “home” Canton at least once during the course
of their studies. It is hard to assess the dimensions of these flows in the
context of comparable data for other regions and countries. The motivations
and constraints for such mobility are not fully known. Nevertheless, it is clear
that different cultural traditions with respect to the role of vocational training,
academic secondary education, teaching, and research at universities act as
further barriers to national as well as international co-operation,
co-ordination and consensus building in tertiary education policies.
While these features tend to be regarded as essential to the national and
regional landscape, and while they favour a certain shape for and stability in
tertiary education’s provision and policy framework, they are not seen as
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reasons for not undertaking major reforms of the system. The reforms under
discussion in Switzerland largely accept these characteristics as strengths
that require some improvement rather than barriers to innovation and
revamping of the system.
6.3. The challenges of modernisation in tertiary education
in Switzerland
In the past tertiary education was often viewed as something shaped by
forces both outside and within national borders. At times these forces could
even be regional, i.e. be at work in one Canton. The universal dimensions of
knowledge and the worldwide competition for advancement in research now
clearly place it in a global context. Mobility and co-operation have been stimuli
for innovation in curricula and for improvements in the modes of research,
teaching and learning. On the other hand, the shape and size of the system,
the structures of study programmes, the profiles of academic careers, the
administration of institutions and the regulation and funding of tertiary
education systems were the domains of national policy (sometimes subnational policy, the case with Cantons). But even in those areas where decisions
are made nationally or sub-nationally, the actors still often looked to prevailing
international trends and policy directions as possible pointers to options that
could be considered for adaptation and application within the country.
In the last few decades, a set of issues have framed discussion of reform.
Even when these went out of the limelight of public debate, they continued to
be salient issues that require comparative analysis as a basis for desirable
changes. For example, tertiary education policy in Switzerland has to decide
which investments will stimulate economic growth; how to reduce barriers
that hamper the development of available talents; the most suitable ways to
shape curricula with respect to likely future labour market needs; what degree
and modes of diversity will best assure both quality in teaching and research in
the most demanding fields, and learning opportunities for a large number of
students. A decade ago, OECD examiners identified the need to expand and
diversify tertiary education in Switzerland. The issue still deserves attention
today. There are three areas in which major challenges for change and the need
for reform arise in Switzerland – no less than elsewhere in member countries.
First, the growing social relevance of knowledge is a major issue to be
addressed. Knowledge society in Switzerland is understood to mean that
knowledge has become more important in all spheres of life. Knowledge
economy is often used to refer to the growing weight of science and technology
in production and services, and to the resulting need to accelerate the transfer
of knowledge. Information and communication technologies are the most
striking elements of these changes; they are placing substantial pressures on
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and producing changes in tertiary education, e.g. computers in research, the
speed of dissemination of knowledg e, global communication and
co-operation in the academic community, e-learning, and transnational sale
of educational services.
Second, the room for manoeuvre with regard to distinct national
characteristics of and national policies in tertiary education systems seems to
be on the decline. Cross-border influences are growing. Teaching and research
are increasingly undertaken in a global arena of communication and
competition. Tertiary education is now open to international co-operation and
mobility of academics, students and administrators as well as to the
transnational delivery of research and technology and of educational
offerings. Some hold the view that a country’s tertiary education structures,
organisation and management will need to converge with international
practice in order to ensure that research, programmes, teaching and learning
do not lose international standing, competitiveness and quality.
Third, international debates about modern tertiary education systems
have put a strong emphasis on issues of steering and management, including
neoliberal economic views and new public management concepts.
Governments now largely tend to withdraw from tight control of the process,
defining their role instead in terms of setting targets, requiring accountability
and monitoring performance. Nor are relationships between governments
and institutions shaped by strong input steering and procedural control, but
rather by contracts, incentive-based funding and evaluative measures.
Individual tertiary education institutions are expected to develop their own
profiles and take responsibility for operations. Management within
institutions is being strengthened, while internal legislative bodies and
academic self-regulation are now playing less powerful roles. All activities are
put under a regime of constant self-reflection and accountability with respect
to quality, utility and efficiency.
The debate on tertiary education reforms in Switzerland is strongly
driven by assumptions of common demands deriving from a worldwide trend
of growing competition in an increasingly interdependent world economy.
With a few exceptions – among them the high appreciation of vocational
training and the weight of these traditions for tertiary education – almost all
reforms are presented as necessary in order for teaching and research to be on
a par with the most advanced developments. This applies to tertiary
education and research, where efforts are targeted in domains where
Switzerland has or might have a comparative advantage.
There are many voices claiming that Switzerland has to adapt the
structure of its tertiary education system to the mainstream trends in Europe.
Ironically, this need is seen as crucial because Switzerland does not play a
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strong role in the European political arena. For example, not being a member
of the European Union, it had to accept the 1988 directive of the European
Community regarding the recognition of higher education studies and degrees
as an indisputable force in the upgrading of parts of vocational training to
universities of applied sciences. The Bologna Declaration, to which
Switzerland signed, opened up several lines of development in this domain.
Among them, the move to establish stages of tertiary education study
programmes and degrees (ERASMUS in particular) is viewed in Switzerland as
a response to an external development that cannot be called into question.
OECD examiners a decade ago observed that the Swiss tend to apply
caution in yielding to pressures deriving from international and global
development. “Only in extremely important matters”, are concerns taken to
national level, “and always with some regret as if it were a matter of giving up
something jealously guarded” (OECD, 1991, p. 56). Today, the examiners sense
a widely shared willingness to undertake substantial reform. An official at
national level – by no means the only one – noted that there is “a sense of
common purpose”. The cautious attitude towards change does not seem to
have itself changed, but “extremely important matters” appear to have
multiplied to the point where there is consensus that change is needed.
6.4. Swiss policy options
The options advanced in the Swiss background report primarily reflect
responses to the demands for modernisation, to growing global competitive
challenges, and to a desire to reinforce the traditional characteristics of
education in Switzerland, e.g. by preserving a strong vocational component
and establishing a binary structure in the expansion of tertiary education.
There are few indications of a “third way”, i.e. doing something deliberately
new that is neither suggested by the strengths of the past nor by the
mainstream of global and international developments. There is no interest to
move towards a wholly innovative approach, which eventually might be
viewed as the first step in advancing a new, modern prototype of tertiary
education policy.
One exception might be worth noting. Most key actors and experts in
Switzerland seem to agree that the decentralising forces in tertiary education
have been too strong in the past. Nationwide steering and co-ordination ought
to be strengthened in order to raise the quality, efficiency and equality of
opportunities and international competitiveness of Swiss tertiary education.
This might eventually lead to a new balance between national, sub-national,
institutional and individual policies and interests.
For the review team, an interesting question is whether the emphasis
given in the Swiss background report to the global challenges of modernisation
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could actually foreshadow more significant departures in policy and
provision. The OECD examiners in the early 1990s observed a special mode of
taking up challenges which they called a “Swiss pragmatism”, noting: “It is
well known that mountain peoples are concrete and practical, and do not like
vague concepts or too much talk. Above all, they are inclined to action: not
precipitate, but thought out, always moving cautiously and with a margin of
safety. Swiss pragmatism moves in stages, from what is known, close and
neighbouring to what is less known, distant, strange” (OECD, 1991, p. 55).
6.5. The OECD review
Switzerland first expressed its interest in an OECD education policy
review in 1998. It was agreed that the review would be undertaken in 2001, at
a time when the first graduates of the university of applied sciences were
expected to be entering the labour market. Tertiary sector reforms similar to
those implemented in Switzerland have been undertaken in Finland, Austria
and Mexico (each with specificities arising out of national circumstances).
Diversity and responsiveness, which lie at the heart of the Swiss reform,
feature also in reforms of existing provision in a number of countries. This
underlines the comparative interest and value of a policy review aimed at that
aspect of the Swiss reform.
The terms of reference for the review were first discussed in 1998, and
over the course of further discussions it was agreed to ground the review in
the reform of structures and provision in the context of the goals of lifelong
learning policies. The review was to cover the full range of the tertiary sector,
with the aim of assessing how well the system was performing in meeting the
broad objectives of efficiency, equity and quality, and the goals of lifelong
learning. The issues to be covered included the following: access to tertiary
provision, its adequacy and flexibility in meeting social and economic
demand; basic and applied research, and the quality of teaching and learning;
governance, steering, quality assurance and accountability mechanisms; the
universities’ response to and position regarding new reforms; and the role of
the new and strengthened colleges in provision of degree and non-degree
learning opportunities for adults.
While having general and comparative application, those issues are
explored in relation to the new tertiary education policy options now being
advanced in Switzerland. This approach has the advantage of allowing for a
careful examination of policy formulation grounded in the Swiss setting
rather than organised around a set of more broadly framed, cross-cutting
themes or issue areas for the review, such as lifelong learning and finance.
New Swiss tertiary education policies advance the realisation of lifelong
learning to the extent that participation of young adults and those at
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mid-career increases; that a range of opportunities are available to – and
selected by – potential pool of learners that is more diverse in terms of gender,
socioeconomic background, home Canton, etc.; and that students move with
some flexibility from upper secondary into and through tertiary education
programmes. These aspects are examined in some detail in this report. Other
features of lifelong learning, such as continuing education for adults and
vocationally oriented, post-secondary or short-cycle tertiary-level education
(tertiary-type B, in OECD [ISCED] terminology) do not figure prominently in the
policy options under review. Until now, Swiss universities, institutes of
technology and universities of applied sciences have played a smaller role in
such provision, which relies more on the other sectors and establishments
within the vocational training system. Although that may continue to be the
case, these bodies are to some extent opening up to the possibilities for
learning that comes well into the careers of their graduates (e.g. via
technology-based opportunities and modular offerings).
Similarly, new arrangements are incorporated for financing strategies
aimed at access, student mobility, staffing, specific targets for research, and
institutional profile and performance (within new arrangements for
governance and management of institutions and programmes). Finance – its
volume, form, and actual or potential effects for the individuals, programmes
and institutions, and third-parties concerned – is taken up in the examination
of each of the issues mentioned as appropriate. As experience builds with the
financing strategies now in place to both fund and assist in steering
institutions, and programmes and research, a more broadly based
examination of effects would be warranted.
As part of the review process, a team of officials, administrators and
researchers established by the Swiss authorities completed a first draft of the
background report in May 2001; a revised version was prepared after the study
visit, in January 2002. This report aims to inform the analysis and review of the
issues identified in the agreed terms of the OECD review.
The examiners’ team, established for the review in consultation with the
Swiss authorities, includes the following members:
●
Professor Ulrich Teichler – Director, Centre for Research on Higher
Education and Work, University of Kassel, Germany. Professor Teichler is
the Rapporteur for the Examiners’ team.
●
Dr. Elsa Hackl – former Director, Ministry of Education, Science and Culture,
Austria; Department of Political Science, University of Vienna.
●
Professor Michel Hoffert – Vice-President, Université Louis Pasteur,
Strasbourg I, France.
●
Professor Alan Wagner – Chair, Department of Educational Administration
and Policy Studies, State University of New York, Albany, United States.
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●
Dr. Abrar Hasan – Head, Education and Training Policy Division, OECD.
A “pre-visit” by the OECD Secretariat was undertaken in June 2001 to
review the issues to be examined and to identify the procedures for the
background report and the review mission. Meetings were held with key senior
policy officials and with the Swiss team responsible for organising the review.
The OECD review team undertook its study mission from
18-27 November 2001. In the course of that visit the team met with ministers
and senior officials (education and other portfolios) from the Federal and
Cantonal governments and representatives of universities, institutes of
technology, universities of applied sciences, other tertiary institutions, and
tertiary-related associations and organisations. A large number of institutions
were visited and meetings were held with third parties (including business
and municipal authorities), administrators, staff and students in educational
and research institutions.
On the basis of information in the background report, discussions in the
course of the review mission, and other information gathered by the team, the
examiners prepared a first draft of their report. After consultations with the
Swiss authorities, a second draft was prepared for further comments. A review
session was organised in the course of the Education Committee’s regular
meeting on 22 October 2002. That session was based on the questions raised
and recommendations put forward by the review team. The examiners’ report
has taken account of the review session discussions.
The report of the review team addresses three major themes that run
through tertiary education policy. Chapter 7 addresses the shape and size of
the tertiary education system, i.e. quantitative and structural matters.
Chapter 8 focuses on the core functions of tertiary education, i.e. research as
well as teaching and learning. Chapter 9 deals with steering issues, i.e. the
relationship between national and sub-national authorities as well as
between government and other external stakeholders; the relationships
between institutions and those authorities and stakeholders; and governance,
steering and evaluation within tertiary education institutions. Chapter 10
discusses the need for improving systematic information gathering and
research on higher education. Finally, Chapter 11 provides a summary of the
main observations, poses the main questions, and presents recommendations
in addition to those presented at the end of each chapter.
6.6. The focus on tertiary education
The Swiss authorities, in asking the OECD to undertake the review,
proposed a focus on tertiary education. The aim was to sharpen the analysis
and review, all within the context of the functioning of the education system
as a whole. In this connection, “tertiary education” as analysed in the Swiss
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background report and as covered in the OECD examiners’ visit to Switzerland
differs from the broad concept used in OECD discussions. The former
concerns “higher education” as presently defined by Federal governmental
authorities of Switzerland. This comprises university-level institutions of
higher education, notably universities and two federal institutes of technology
[Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich (ETHZ); Ecole polytechnique
fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)] and, since the late 1990s, universities of applied
sciences (in Switzerland, the terms used for the colleges are Fachhochschule in
German, haute école spécialisée in French, and scuola universitaria professionale in
Italian).2 This coverage excluded institutions and programmes similar in profile
and levels to college programmes, i.e. teacher training programmes, health
education programmes and others viewed as likely to become officially part of
“higher education” during the current reform period scheduled to end in 2007.
Further, the review largely excluded that part of tertiary education
defined by the OECD (ISCED) as “tertiary-type B”. To clarify this distinction,
since the late 1990s the OECD calls those programmes requiring at least three
years of study “tertiary-type A” if they are understood in the country
concerned to be a higher education programme or a degree programme of at
least a bachelor level. “Tertiary-type B” programmes might be shorter and,
even if they require three years, more vocational without the claims of
academic standing implied in tertiary-type A. They are post-secondary
programmes of mostly a vocational nature, usually with less demanding entry
requirements. Switzerland sets the dividing line between the academic and
vocational sectors – and within vocational education and training – between
pre-career vocational training and continuing professional education. The
OECD emphasis on stages sharpens the awareness that learning at a certain
stage might be more appropriate for developing competencies and skills
needed to cope with the demands of a modern knowledge society than was
the case when different tracks of secondary education were widespread and
large numbers of the population in many countries did not participate in any
kind of post-compulsory education and training. Further, the OECD definitions
allow for better comparability of different education systems, a feature likely
to be of growing importance as cross-border recognition of qualifications and
international mobility become more common.
Notes
1. The English terms “vocational” and “professional” lack precision and, as commonly
understood, do not fully convey the distinctions made in Switzerland. The “vocational
training system”, as the term is used in this report, refers to all education and training
geared toward employment, including in fields often defined as “professions” in
Anglo-Saxon countries (e.g. engineering). The preparation is not narrowly
“vocational” as that term is understood in English. Further, the “vocational training
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system” includes preparation and training extending from the first cycle of secondary
education to the advanced tertiary level. In French or German, “professional” conveys
this breadth, orientation and reach better than the word “vocational”.
2. The Swiss colleges tend to translate Fachhochschule as the Austrian and German
Fachhochschulen do – “university of applied sciences”.
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Reviews of National Policies for Education
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
© OECD 2003
PART II
Chapter 7
Scope and Structure
of the Tertiary Education System
The tertiary sector in Switzerland has made major gains in access
and participation over the last decade, especially since the creation
of a new vocational stream at this level in 1997. The chapter
argues for additional measures: greater permeability in access
routes, closer relationships between various parts of the tertiary
sector, expanded areas of study in the universities of applied
sciences (especially to cover teacher training), and more flexible
arrangements to meet the learning needs of adults.
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7.1. Access, educational paths and opportunities
Switzerland is one of the countries in Europe that preserved a two-track
system in secondary education. Pupils select or are selected into certain
programmes and schools which largely determine study opportunities and the
associated vocational/professional qualifications. Subsequent to an optional
period of preschool education, children in Switzerland begin compulsory
education at the age of six or seven. Primary schooling lasts four years in two
Cantons, five years in three Cantons and six years in twenty Cantons. Lower
secondary schools and programmes are divided into basic programmes and
more demanding programmes of varying kinds. A compulsory school of nine
grades for all is only provided in the Canton of Ticino.
Thereafter, students have the choice of:
●
Attending the Gymnasium, the university preparatory schools, ending with
the Matura qualification as the prerequisite for university-study.
●
Entering vocational training for career preparatory programmes, mostly in
the form of apprenticeship training alongside part-time schooling and
partly in school-based programmes, organised at different levels and at
different locations.
●
Entering vocational training for programmes that lead to both vocational
qualifications and the vocational Matura (Berufsmatura in German; maturité
professionelle in French) as the entry qualification for universities of applied
sciences.
●
Leaving the education and training system and possibly entering gainful
employment directly (some of these youth enter short-term vocational
programmes that do not lead to a skilled-labour qualification).
Less than one-quarter of the relevant age group enters the university
preparatory Gymnasium whereby upper secondary education might comprise
three or four years (altogether 12 or 13 years of schooling prior to entry to
university; a recent recommendation called for a standard of 12 years of
schooling to be applied throughout Switzerland). Those passing the final
examination, the Matura (18% of the respective age group in 2000), are entitled
to enrol at a university and almost all of them actually do so. For them, entry
to university education is not selective but rather a matter of allocation
according to the rank a student obtains in his or her preferred field and
institution within the system.
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Switzerland is clearly among the many European countries where most
of the young people acquire a high level of education and skills. Specifically,
Swiss policies have led to relatively large numbers of the age group completing
some kind of upper secondary education – a benchmark established by the
OECD in its monitoring of lifelong learning (OECD, 2001, Chapter 2). Various
statistics bear out this conclusion. For example, the OECD’s Education at a
Glance (2001) shows:
●
A “current upper secondary education rate” (a ratio of the number of
current year completers of education at the upper secondary level to the
population of young adults at the typical age of upper secondary school
completion) of 83.4% for Switzerland in 1999 as compared to 85.0% in
France, 91.9% in Germany, 73.5% in Italy and an average 78.9% for the OECD
area as a whole.
●
An “upper secondary attainment or higher” of the 25- to 64-year-olds (a
ratio of the number in the age group who have completed education to at
least the upper secondary level to the population in that age group) of 81.7%
in Switzerland as compared to 61.9% in France, 81.2% in Germany, 42.2% in
Italy and an average 62.0% for the OECD area as a whole.
The data suggest that the current rate of post-compulsory schooling and
training in Switzerland is not exceptional. The high attainment rate reflects a
longer tradition of extended schooling in Switzerland compared to many
other OECD countries.
According to the Swiss background report, 86% of the age group
successfully completed upper secondary education in 2000, with 18% gaining
the Matura, 8% securing the vocational Matura, and 60% acquiring another
voc at ion al q u al if ic at ion . A b ou t ha lf o f the ag e g rou p co mp le te d
apprenticeship training combined with part-time vocational schooling. Of the
remaining 14%, some completed a one-year programme or a short training for
semi-skilled jobs. The proportions acquiring the vocational Matura are
expected to grow, as intake into this very new study line has already increased.
Switzerland, along with Austria and Germany, belongs to the relatively
small group of countries that established apprenticeship training, i.e. learning
at a workplace supplemented by part-time vocational schooling, as the
dominant pattern of pre-career education and training. As just noted, more
than half of the young people participate. Often the choice of an apprentice
programme turns out to be a crucial step towards employment, because many
employers hire their apprentices once the final qualifying exam has been
passed. Thus, apprenticeship systems are characterised by a close link
between area of training and area of subsequent employment, as well as by a
relatively smooth transition from education to the employment system
(OECD, 1999; Stern and Wagner, 1999).
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The differentiated system of vocational training is so highly appreciated
in Switzerland that the option of upgrading the most advanced segment of
this sector to higher education was resisted for a long period. When
universities of applied sciences were established, the new system for entry to
the colleges – the vocational Matura – relied strongly on the vocational
dimension of prior learning. The permeability between the sectors of vocational
training and study at universities of applied sciences seems to be high: youth
not entering a programme leading to a vocational Matura at the beginning of
the upper secondary stage can move at a later stage to a shorter programme
leading to a vocational Matura, or even be accepted by the universities of
applied sciences upon the acquisition of other vocational qualifications.
Overview publications in Switzerland on vocational training differ in the
way they group the different types and levels. For example, the book Vocational
Education in Switzerland, published in 2000 by the German-Swiss Conference of
Vocational Education Offices, presents a structure different from that
presented in the Swiss background report for this review. It identifies a first
level of vocational education, called “basic vocational education”, consisting
of apprenticeship training and full-time vocational schools; and a second
level, called “continuing vocational education”, which is provided either by
universities of applied sciences or by other higher vocational schools. In
contrast, the Swiss background report describes the educational system as
mainly structured according to stages of primary, secondary and tertiary
education [as regards this policy, see also CDIP (Conférence suisse de
directeurs cantonaux de l’instruction publique) 2000]. Accordingly, the
students have the choice at the upper secondary education level to head for:
●
Certificates of semi-skilled training.
●
Apprenticeship certificates.
●
Advanced types of vocational training at upper secondary education level.
●
A vocational Matura.
●
A Gymnasium-based Matura.
●
Teacher training certificates for primary schools. These certificates will now
be replaced by diplomas from the higher education establishments known
as Hautes Écoles Pédagogiques (HEP).
The background report names three sectors of tertiary education:
university-type institutions, universities of applied sciences and other
specialised institutions, with programmes ranging in length between two and
five years.
Views vary both within individual countries and in international debates
on the strengths and weaknesses of learning in a framework with a vocational
emphasis as compared to a general emphasis, and featuring training and
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experiential learning at a workplace as contrasted with learning through
conventional schooling. Given the strong vocational tradition in Swiss
education, the OECD examiners were not surprised that officials, stakeholders
and education administrators put their faith in the educational value of
vocational training and experience at the workplace. The vocational Matura,
in principle, is viewed as a good option to serve both as the qualification for
direct entry to an intermediate level of occupation and as a more demanding
level of preparation for the newly established second type of higher education
institutions, the colleges. In striking the balance between these two goals of
job entry and further training, the vocational Matura may lead to a
reinforcement of existing tracks, such that preparation for study at university
will tend to be somewhat more academic and somewhat less integrated into
the work-based activities of vocational training.
At present, the vocational Matura can be awarded upon completion of
full-time vocational training designed to lead to that qualification within
apprenticeship training or special programmes subsequent to the
apprenticeship training. Those having been conferred the academic Matura
are entitled to enrol at universities of applied sciences after having gained
relevant experience and knowledge through at least one “add-on” year of
vocational training or practice. This requirement reduces the attractiveness of
the college option for those having acquired the academically oriented Matura
and limits the permeability of the system. Though prior vocational
experiences are obviously desirable for all college students, one could consider
solutions that are less of a deterrent for persons with an academic Matura (for
example, a diversified “first year” with a somewhat more intensive vocational
component for students with the academic Matura, and perhaps some
academic classes for students with a vocational Matura).
Academic secondary education in Switzerland varies more substantially
in structural and content between the Cantons. It was noted above that,
depending on the Canton, the years of schooling required for a Matura could
vary between 12 and 14. Since the 1970s, various steps have been taken in cooperation between the Confederation and the Cantons to set up general
frameworks for duration of schooling, curricula, and final examination
standards for academic secondary education. These moves towards coordination are beneficial for students whose families are mobile within
Switzerland during their years of school attendance. Moreover, they offer a
means to counteract, in the long run, hidden barriers of university student
mobility between the different regions. However, OECD examiners were told of
a widely held view that the demands placed by the Matura on students in
German-speaking universities and in the French-speaking region are
different. The academic backgrounds and potential of students wishing to
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transfer from a French-speaking to a German-speaking university, it was
suggested, would need to be carefully assessed.
In Switzerland, strong emphasis is placed on local ties. In the newly
established sector of universities of applied sciences, it continues to be taken
for granted that almost all students choose a college close to their home and
commute when feasible (with some notable exceptions of highly specialised
schools, such as the renowned private École Hôtelière de Lausanne, or some
colleges of fine arts). Also, a substantial proportion of students opts for the
university nearby if the desired field of study is provided there, though clearly
less than in the case of the university of applied sciences. On the other hand,
there are no legal or financial barriers to regional mobility set by the individual
universities. A common tuition fee is set by the university or university of
applied sciences Canton for all students, regardless of home Canton, and the
students’ home Canton pays a portion of those costs to the host Canton
according to the inter-Canton agreement.
The regional mobility of students is expected to rise as a result of the
growing need for universities to sharpen their individual profiles, to
strengthen further their strong domains, and possibly to give up some fields in
order to be competitive and attractive at a time when there is a growing
premium on quality in a globalising tertiary education environment. Also,
student mobility within Switzerland will need to increase as some tiny local
branches of the universities of applied sciences take on more specialised tasks
or are closed as the mergers are consolidated. From this perspective, local
idiosyncrasies of the past now are viewed as possible barriers to mobility
between the different Swiss regions.
In fact, Switzerland is the only country in Europe where tuition fees are set
separately by each Canton that “hosts” a university or university of applied
sciences, and where the levels of student aid and grants differ by Canton or
possibly by tertiary education institution. Differences in tuition fees are relatively
modest (apart from those charged in Ticino), while student aid and grants vary
more substantially. Information on financial conditions faced by individual
students is not readily available (Staehlin-Witt and Parisi, 1999, pp. 75-85).
Lack of information on financial conditions for each of a range of
options discourages a more careful weighing of programme and institutional
choices on the part of students. A move to provide more detailed information
on such conditions or, alternatively, to standardise those conditions could
encourage students to make choices without regard to poorly understood
financial constraints.
In contrast to some other countries, there is no widespread concern
about differences in rates of student enrolment and graduation, or strong
egalitarian political pressures to raise these rates. Concern about
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socioeconomic and regional barriers to the mobilisation of talents might well
have been expected to increase as higher levels of enrolment are welcomed in
many quarters, as regional mobility is considered to be more important than in
the past, and as strong claims are made for increased funding on the basis of
higher education’s potential contributions to the “knowledge society”. In this
regard, there are marked differences in enrolment and graduation rates by
Canton of origin. According to the data provided in the Swiss background report:
●
The percentage of academic Matura graduates varies by Canton from 9% to
32%. The rates are high in the Italian-speaking Ticino (29%), relatively high in
the French-speaking Cantons (varying from 20% to 32%) and lowest in the
German-speaking Cantons (ranging from 9% to 22%); similarly, the university
graduation rate ranges from 5% to 18% according to the Canton of origin.
●
The percentage of the vocational Matura ranges from 2% to 15% across
Cantons. Smaller proportions are trained in this sector on average in the
French-speaking regions than in the German-speaking and Italian-speaking
regions. If other types of advanced-level vocational training in upper
secondary education are taken into consideration as well (particularly fields
now under Canton responsibility such as health, social work and teacher
training), the overall rates are much larger but the Canton-by-Canton
differences remain.
With respect to the socioeconomic background of students, Switzerland
shares with other OECD countries a common pattern. Although the information
is relatively poor, available survey data show differences in rates of access to
tertiary education according to parental income or education. The proportion of
Swiss students receiving need-based grants and loans (14% in 1995 –
see Staehlin-Witt and Parisi, 1999) is low in comparison to other European
countries if one disregards the very small support systems in some southern
European countries. Certainly, Switzerland cannot be considered a country that
uses financial measures as means to overcome social inequalities.
Inequities of access to higher education also have a nationality dimension.
About 20% of the pupils in Swiss primary and lower secondary education
schools have the citizenship of another country, whereas the proportion of
foreign students at Swiss institutions of higher education who were awarded
their Matura in Switzerland is only about one-third of this figure.
As in many other countries, inequality by gender has attracted the
strongest public attention. While the data show an increasing enrolment of
women in higher education, the policy debate focuses mostly on the low
proportion of women in senior academic positions. Federal priorities in the
university support programmes identify as a target equal opportunities for
women and men. In this programme, financial support is provided to
universities for the recruitment of high proportions of female professors, for
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mentoring programmes for women in academia, and for child care
arrangements at universities. The aim of the programme is to contribute to an
increase in the proportion of women among all university professors in
Switzerland from 7% in 1998 to 14% in 2006.
According to OECD statistics [OECD, Education at a Glance (2001) p. 155],
Switzerland is the only OECD country with a lower enrolment rate for women
than men in both tertiary-type A and B. Switzerland and the Czech Republic
are the two European countries with a lower percentage of women entering
university-type higher education than men.
During the OECD examiners’ visit, reference was made to the relatively
small proportion of women enrolled in universities of applied sciences. This
finding, however, primarily reflects differences by gender in the choice of
fields of study such as teacher training, health education and social work, and,
correspondingly, the decision of Swiss authorities in the mid-1990s not to
upgrade those fields from advanced vocational education to higher education
which were mainly under the control of Cantons. The OECD examiners are not
aware of analyses controlling for the effects of field composition and field
upgrading, but it seems likely that inequalities by gender are similar
throughout tertiary education. According to official statistics, the proportions
of women enrolled in 1999/2000 were: 45% in university education; 24% at
universities of applied sciences; and 42% in other tertiary education.
The trend toward reduction of inequality by gender is noteworthy. In 1980,
only 30% of university students were women; in the year 2000, this figure had
reached 45%. Among the population 55-64 years old, only 7% of women had
participated in tertiary education as compared to 30% of men. Among the
25-34 age group, the respective figures are 17% and 34%. If these trends
continue, women could reach equal attainment rates by around the year 2010.
7.2. An expanding system
Swiss tertiary education has been characterised until recently by its
relatively low rates of entry and graduation. OECD education statistics show
that tertiary education in Switzerland in the 1970s and 1980s did not follow
the pattern of expansion experienced in other OECD countries. Swiss entry
and graduation rates lagged behind those of its large neighbours, i.e. in
Germany, France and, as far as entry and enrolment figures are concerned,
Italy (see, e.g. OECD, 1996).
Expansion proceeded cautiously, partly as a consequence of a shared
view that high quality needed to be sustained and that, in the event, the
output matched the demand of the employment system. The OECD review of
educational policy in Switzerland undertaken a decade ago suggested that
this policy might in the future lead to a shortage of highly qualified people,
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and imply a “latent risk of a relative deterioration of Switzerland’s position as
regards its industrial competence and capacity for innovation”. The report
concluded that “the need for a continuing increase in the skill potential of the
Swiss labour is obvious” (OECD, 1991, p. 38).
The background report prepared by the Swiss authorities for this review
provides detailed quantitative information on university education, while the
information made available on other sectors of tertiary education is
fragmented. There is considerably less information on the newly established
university of applied sciences sector (or the institutions that merged to form
the colleges), and hardly any data on other sectors of tertiary education.
In university education, the entry rate in Switzerland increased from
about 12% in 1980 to about 15% in 1990 and to almost 20% in 2000 (Swiss
background report). The graduation rate is expected to be lower, because not
all students eventually acquire a degree and because expansion in entry rates
leads to a corresponding increase in graduation rates only some years later.
The available statistics suggest that the success rate of university students,
i.e. the number of graduates as compared to the number of beginner students
some years earlier, is about 70% in Switzerland – somewhat above the average
of the OECD countries. Some 64% of women complete their degree
programmes compared to 72% of men (Swiss background report).
The Swiss background report states that about 6% of the Swiss population of
the relevant age group were awarded a university degree in 1980, a rate increasing
only moderately to 7% in 1990 and thereafter substantially to 10% in 2000.
The Swiss Federal Statistical Office assembles data that give a complete
picture of the size of entry, enrolment and graduation cohorts in all sectors
of tertiary education. In 1999, the total number of students in tertiary
education in Switzerland was 156 145, among them: 95 697 in universities;
16 749 in universities of applied sciences; 43 699 in other tertiary (higher
vocational) education.
The number of degrees awarded were: 9 054 initial university degrees
(Diplom, Lizentiat); 2 732 doctorates, and 27 000 higher vocational degrees,
among them 7 297 on the advanced level (TS, HTL, HWV, HFG)1 that partly
formed the nucleus for the newly established programmes of universities of
applied sciences.
The data show that the number of beginning students at universities of
applied sciences and other similar tertiary education programmes was about
half that of beginning students at universities. The OECD, on the other hand,
1 TS (Technical Schools and Post-Graduate Programmes for Technicians); HTL (Higher
Technical Institutions, Schools of Engineering); HWV (Higher Schools of Business
and Administration); and HFG (Higher School of Design).
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reports a net entry rate to tertiary education of 29.1% in Switzerland in 1999
[OECD, Education at a Glance (2001) p. 155], i.e. about one and a half times the
rate the Swiss statistics report as entry rate to university-level institutions.
The Swiss statistics suggest as well that about 18% of the relevant age
group reached a tertiary-type A degree in the academic year 1999/2000; among
them, two-thirds had a university degree and one-third another tertiarytype A degree, i.e. a degree awarded upon successful study of at least three
years in higher education programmes. The OECD statistics for 1999 reported
graduation rates of 7.8% from medium first degree programmes (three to less
than five years) and 12.7% from long or very long first degree programmes,
i.e. slightly higher figures [OECD, Education at a Glance (2001), p. 169].
The available data show that the expansion has brought tertiary
education participation in Switzerland to a level roughly corresponding to
other OECD countries. Table 7.1, providing the relevant comparisons, shows
that the Swiss entry rate is similar to that in Germany and Austria. As for
graduation, the Swiss rate is higher than in all neighbouring countries except
for France. It is lower, however, than in most English-speaking and most
Nordic OECD countries, and below the OECD average.
Table 7.1.
Entry rates to tertiary education, Type A
Switzerland and neighbouring countries, 1999
Switzerland
Net entry rate
Austria
1
France
Germany
Italy
29.1
(29)
35.5
28.5
40.0
7.8
0.9
18.5
5.2
1.1
14.9
Net graduation rate
Medium first degree programmes
Long and very long first degree
programmes
11.8
11.1
6.4
10.8
Second degree programmes
5.1
0.1
6.7
x
3.3
PhD
2.6
1.4
1.2
1.8
0.4
Attainment of the population 25
to 64 years old2
15
6
11
13
9
1. Information provided by Austrian sources (BMBWK, Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft
und Kultur, Statistical Guide 2001, Vienna).
2. Tertiary Type A and advanced research programmes.
Source: OECD (2001), Education at a Glance, p. 43, p. 155 and p. 169, Paris.
According to OECD statistics, the educational attainment of the Swiss
population at tertiary level is very high in international comparison. In 1999,
about 15% of the population in Switzerland aged 25 to 64 were trained at
tertiary-type A level. This rate is clearly lower than in the United States and
Japan and about the same as in the United Kingdom, as the Swiss background
report points out (see also Switzerland, Federal Office for Education, 2001,
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p. 7), but it is higher than in neighbouring countries. The respective country
figures refer to all types of advanced vocational training, including those
which the OECD defines as tertiary-type B.
Experts’ and stakeholders’ views in Switzerland vary in the assessment of
entry and graduation rates. While enrolment trends are viewed as being more
or less in tune with the needs of the economy and society, there are concerns
that a further increase is desirable in order to meet anticipated future
developments of the knowledge society and knowledge economy.
In this context, Swiss representatives of government, employers and
tertiary education institutions often emphasised Switzerland’s need to be
“Euro-compatible”. This broad policy orientation includes, among other
dimensions, undertaking work in parallel with other European countries to
reform study and degree programmes in line with the “Bologna process”,
i.e. introducing a stage system of programmes and degrees. A question in
Switzerland as well as in France and Germany is whether programmes of
vocational education (tertiary-type B) now should be upgraded with higher
entry standards. Such reforms would augment the volume of qualifications
awarded at tertiary level, to match or exceed rates of bachelor degrees
awarded in the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and most Nordic
countries. Several countries are following the path of upgrading some part of
higher vocational education to tertiary education.
The OECD examiners cannot suggest any specific policy in this respect,
not least because this sector did not figure in the Swiss background report or
during the visit. However, it is worth considering the role of these
programmes, their status and their entry qualifications, because their
attractiveness and the opportunities for their graduates on the labour market
partly depend on their position in relation to the two higher education tracks.
7.3. Diversification and the role played by various types
of institutions
In all industrialised countries, the number of students enrolled at higher
education institutions has expanded substantially in the second half of the
20th century. Views vary regarding the extent to which this expansion is
explained primarily as a consequence of increasing individual demand or as a
response to the growing needs of the economy and society. Also, the speed
and the modes of growth varied by country. Growth of existing institutions of
higher education took place along with the establishment of new institutions
and the upgrading of institutions previously not considered to be part of higher
education. In this process, the borders gradually began to blur between
selective, academically demanding programmes considered “higher education”
and other programmes also addressing learners beyond the typical age group of
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secondary education pupils. To take account of these developments, the OECD
has opted to employ “tertiary education” as the umbrella term.
Countries have used, to a varying degree, several modes of diversity –
increased stratification of the reputation of the individual institution, growing
variety of the substantive profiles of the individual institution and
department, a growing weight placed on different lengths of study
programmes and levels of diplomas and degrees, and the emergence of
different types of institutions of higher education in each country. Moreover,
students themselves contribute to the diversity of higher education by opting
for new combinations of programmes and by studying temporarily in other
countries in larger numbers.
The neighbouring countries of Switzerland, which are partners in cooperation and serve as reference points in debates on educational reforms, are
also undertaking actions to improve diversification. The French system,
already diverse in its levels of programmes and degrees and types of
institutions has diversified further, through the establishment of both Instituts
Universitaires de Technologie in close links to universities and Instituts
Universitaires Professionnels within the framework of the universities, as well as
through the increase in advanced-level university programmes. In Germany,
Fachhochschulen were established as a second type of higher education
institution through the upgrading of engineering colleges and higher
vocational schools. In recent years, the emphasis traditionally placed on the
more or less equal quality of all universities has given way to moderate
stratification according to academic reputation. In Austria, Fachhochschule
programmes were established in some fields of study since the early 1990s
while some colleges of education, social work, health studies and other
programmes considered to be on more or less the same level remained in
sectors of their own until recently.
In Switzerland, as already noted, expansion has been viewed cautiously
and, in contrast to neighbouring countries, was not encouraged by policy
measures. Most of the enrolment growth was a reaction to increased
individual demand and supported by successive augmentation of financing
through an inter-Canton arrangement that aimed to avoid a numerus clausus.
Official Swiss publications as a rule name twelve university-type institutions
of higher education. These are usually grouped into ten universities under the
Swiss regulatory regime that are basically funded by an individual Canton (or, in
the case of the University of Basel, by two Cantons) and two institutes of
technology supervised and basically funded by the Swiss Confederation.
The ten university-type institutions, founded in the 19th century or
earlier, increased their average number of enrolment from 1980 to 2000
(Table 7.2). Foundation of a new university in the 20th century was not realised
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Table 7.2.
SCOPE AND STRUCTURE OF THE TERTIARY EDUCATION SYSTEM
Year of foundation and enrolment figures of university-type
institutions in Switzerland
Number of students
Institution
1990
Men
2000
Women
Men
Women
1460
University of Basel
4 089
2 718
4 029
3 577
1537
University of Lausanne
3 771
3 603
4 765
5 128
1559
University of Geneva
5 927
6 647
5 599
7 579
1833
University of Zurich
11 870
9 308
10 079
10 519
1834
University of Bern
6 075
3 671
5 280
4 913
1838
University of Neuchâtel
1 455
1 238
1 555
1 581
1853
Federal Institute of Technology
Lausanne
3 165
599
4 181
914
1855
Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
9 125
2 052
8 441
3 018
1889
University of Fribourg
3 649
2 678
4 208
4 641
1898
University of St. Gallen
3 176
738
3 525
1 180
1996
University of Lugano
(Università della Svizzera italia)
1600-2000
University of Luzern
0
0
696
714
147
63
137
119
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office.
before 1996, and the two newly founded universities (those in Lugano and
Luzern) accommodated in 2000 less than 2% of all students at university-level
institutions in Switzerland.
Programmes at Swiss university-level institutions tend to be viewed as
long and highly demanding. The required length of study is four years in most
cases, but about six years on average can be observed at German-speaking
universities and about five years at French-speaking universities. Policies
introduced in inter-Canton agreements as early as 1987 sought to reduce the
duration of studies through time-limited financing. However, no provisions
existed for short university programmes before the “Bologna Declaration”
of 1999 triggered off a debate in Switzerland on this question.
Other institutions with university-type programmes did not figure in the
discussion during the review mission. An information brochure for foreign
students published in 2001 by the Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss
Universities states that: “The following may also be considered as institutions
of higher education: the Pedagogical College of St Gall (Pädagogische Hochschule
St. Gallen), the Graduate Institute for International Studies (Institut universitaire
de hautes études internationales, IUHEI) in Geneva and the Graduate Institute for
Advanced Public Administration (Institut de hautes études en administration
publique, IDHEAP) in Lausanne”. In addition, there are a number of private
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colleges, which offer courses based on the Anglo-American system. The
studies and examinations offered by these colleges are not recognised.
Until recently, vocational education in Switzerland was conceived as a
world apart from university education. Upgrading of parts of this sector was
not an explicit policy in the 1960s and 1970s when many other European
countries opted for a restructuring and for a targeted expansion of higher
education. Vocational education was highly valued in Switzerland as a sector
in its own right, offering good employment opportunities and appropriate
preparation for the respective occupational areas, leading to relatively
attractive levels of remuneration. No need was felt to implement changes
similar to, for example, the establishment of Fachhochschulen in Germany. In
fact, OECD statistics suggest that income differentials by educational
attainment were relatively small (see Table 7.3).
In the wake of the 1980s, the growth of academic secondary education and
the corresponding increase in enrolment at universities elicited the first concerns
in Switzerland that the quality of the advanced levels of vocational education
might suffer from a growing number of talented youth opting for the academic
path of education. Additionally, there were more frequently heard voices in Swiss
economic circles stating that the demand for highly qualified personnel was
likely to grow. At the same time, at the end of the eighties, the directive of the
European Community regarding the professional recognition of higher education
diplomas and degrees (Directive 89/48/EEC) triggered a new debate in various
European countries on the quantities and structures of higher education systems.
According to the Directive, successful completion of three years of study at
programmes provided by institutions recognised as higher education institutions,
i.e. irrespective of type of institution and programme, should be the typical entry
requirement for highly qualified professions; if any country set higher entry levels
for certain professions, it should provide educational, training and examination
arrangements facilitating the acquisition of the relevant credentials for citizens of
other member states of the European Community.
This Directive had a substantial impact on structural policies for higher
education in various European countries. In some countries, notably Finland,
Belgium, Switzerland and (to a lesser degree) Austria, the conclusion was drawn
that the upgrading of some parts of vocational training to three-year higher
education programmes was appropriate. Upgrading ought to ensure that
professionals hitherto trained at the advanced levels of vocational training can
embark on careers on terms equal to those of their fellow professionals trained
in other European countries. Also, this should help the country be prepared for
an eventual increased demand for highly educated professionals.
In Switzerland, the establishing of a second sector of higher education
began in 1995. More than 60 advanced vocational schools in technical,
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Table 7.3. Relative earnings of the population with income
from employment, selected OECD countries
By level of educational attainment and gender for the population 25 to 64 and 30
to 44 years of age; upper secondary education = 100
Tertiary-type B
25-64
Switzerland 1999
Finland 1997
France 1999
Germany 1998
Sweden 1998
United States
Country mean
1999
25-64
30-44
Total tertiary education
25-64
30-44
Men
122
124
144
140
135
133
Women
131
133
154
160
145
151
M+W
140
142
142
157
153
151
Men
128
124
186
172
159
149
Women
122
121
176
170
143
139
M+W
120
115
183
170
148
139
Men
128
137
183
181
159
163
Women
131
139
178
165
145
152
M+W
125
133
158
174
150
155
116
Men
105
101
169
131
126
Women
104
106
149
167
128
134
M+W
106
104
160
144
130
123
Men
United Kingdom 1999
30-44
Tertiary-type A and
advanced research
programmes
97
103
167
152
151
141
Women
x
x
x
x
136
138
M+W
x
x
x
x
125
121
Men
126
123
193
195
173
173
Women
139
137
171
176
157
158
M+W
128
125
183
180
176
173
Men
119
123
183
180
176
173
Women
120
120
170
177
163
170
M+W
118
120
180
178
173
171
146
Men
130
130
163
157
149
Women
123
126
162
166
144
147
M+W
124
120
163
159
146
141
Source: OECD (2001), Education at a Glance, Paris.
management, applied arts and some social work fields were transformed into
seven vocationally oriented colleges, among them five Fachhochschulen in the
German-speaking Cantons, one haute école spécialisée in the French-speaking
Cantons and one scuola universitaria professionale in the Italian-speaking Canton
Ticino (see Table 7.4). Following the approach of the German Fachhochschulen in
making the status of their colleges more visible internationally, the name of the
Swiss institutions is coined in English as “universities of applied sciences”,
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Table 7.4. Universities of applied sciences:
enrolment, schools and fields of study
Name of institution
Number
of students
Schools
included
Enlargement of fields
Berner Fachhochschule/HES bernoise
3 141
13
Social work
Fachhochschule Zentralschweiz
1 513
5
Social work
Fachhochschule Ostschweiz
2 100
7
Social work
Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz
1 788
10
Social work
Social work
Scuola universitaria professionale della Swizzera
italiana
783
5
Haute école spécialisée de Suisse occidentale
4 800
17
Hotel business
Zürcher Fachhochschule
5 500
11
Social work, psychology
Source: Based on Federal Office for Education and Science, Higher Education in Switzerland: Edition 2001,
Bern 2001.
though the German and French terms rather underscore a distinctiveness that
sets them apart from the universities.
A by-law (including annexes) passed in 1996 states the policies that the
Swiss Confederation pursued in the establishment and initial period of
implementation of this second sector of higher education. The implementation
process begun in 1996 is due to be completed in 2003.
The Swiss background report provides a very informative and
comprehensive account of the development of the universities of applied
sciences during their first few years as well as the plans for 2003 and beyond.
Most of these observations validate the rationale for their particular
development process anchored in the Swiss system. The team of experts
agrees with OECD examiners in Mexico, Austria and Finland who concluded
that different modes of expansion and diversification of higher education,
reflecting the past structures of systems as well as the specific potentials for
change, might be preferred by different OECD countries.
Importantly, the Swiss authorities did not just opt for a reform to
establish a two-track system of higher education in the mid-1990s. They
decided at that time to take other salient decisions regarding the conditions
and the character of this newly emerging second sector of higher education:
1. First, the university of applied sciences was initially limited to those fields
of study for which the Confederation had a co-ordinating power at that time
with respect to qualifications. Only technology, business studies and
applied arts fields were upgraded to become part of higher education, while
teacher training, health education and (in some areas) social work,
although also undergoing a process of upgrading, remained separate (i.e. in
the hands of the Cantons as far as curriculum and qualifications are
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concerned) and did not experience all the changes that occurred in the
framework of universities of applied sciences.
2. Second, no emphasis was placed on rapid expansion. Even in two core fields
of study, engineering and business studies, the number of students and
graduates remained very small compared to the number of university
students and graduates.
3. The entry requirements became more demanding as a consequence of the
establishment of a vocational Matura. However, the requirements remained
more closely linked to the vocational training sector than in the case of
Austria and Finland, i.e. countries that also introduced this sector during
the 1990s, or than in the case of Germany and France, neighbour countries
often discussed in reform debates in Switzerland.
4. The establishment of universities of applied sciences in Switzerland, as with
that of a similar sector in the Netherlands in the 1980s and in Finland and
Belgium in the 1990s, was accompanied by a merger of the mostly very small
predecessor institutions. This was expected to improve administrative
efficiency, to raise the quality of teaching and of applied research, and to
reduce the high unit costs incurred in a large number of small-sized schools
that often did not make use of their capacity.
5. The percentage of women enrolled at universities of applied sciences in
Switzerland has remained very small – which reflects to some extent the
composition of the reformatted fields of study offered at these institutions,
and that efforts should be made to increase their enrolment figures.
Given the strong local network of the individual institutions included
among the new universities and the political power of the individual Cantons,
implementation of the plan met with enormous difficulties and opposition.
The actual achievements of co-ordination and co-operation are quite
impressive in view of the high value placed on a decentralised system. That
diversity plays out at the level of each university of applied sciences, where
the ways of co-ordination, co-operation and integration of the many small
programmes and institutions vary strikingly. By and large, the OECD
examiners observed that those universities of applied sciences that
established very weak modes of co-ordination and central management also
actually pursued the least ambitious reform plans. This certainly reinforces
the view that co-ordination will need to be strengthened when the total
framework comes under discussion in 2003.
In addition to the fields of engineering and business studies, most
schools of design and fine arts as well as almost all schools of social work were
integrated into all existing universities of applied sciences. In these areas,
the 2001 guide on higher education in Switzerland published by the Federal
Office for Education and Science mentions four additional schools of applied
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arts, one school of social work and one of health and social work as “not yet
integrated”. In the French-speaking region, the decision was taken to establish
a separate university of applied sciences for health and social work in 2002.
The University for Applied Sciences for Distance Learning in Brig is not yet
part of the seven institutions.
Most universities of applied sciences moved towards reform and
improvement in terms of strengthening management in their administrative
system. Efforts were launched to extend and improve the activities of applied
research and to enlarge international activities.
There are, however, substantial differences among the seven:
●
At some, serious plans seem to be under way to reduce the number of
locations, whereas in others the number of small schools that make up the
universities seems to be kept unchanged.
●
At some institutions there are activities to create links between different
fields, whereas at others, they remain separate as in the past, for example,
in curricula and research.
●
Some institutions are active in establishing co-operation with other tertiary
education institutions and fields not (yet) included in the universities of
applied sciences; others do not seek such links.
●
Some colleges established ties with university-level institutions in the
interests of permeability for the students as well as co-operation in
research, while others are hardly active in this respect.
●
Only some colleges set up local co-operation with universities and other
tertiary institutions in providing common services, infrastructures, etc.
The creation of universities of applied sciences in Switzerland is
generally viewed as a success in terms of establishing a high-profile second
sector of higher education. There are also signs of improved quality of
teaching and learning, substantial growth in the activities of applied research,
and increased international activities.
However, major issues remain unresolved. The following certainly
deserve attention in the future when revisions in and advances of the reform
are considered:
●
160
The decisions regarding the composition of fields of study were primarily
driven neither by the need of society or the economy for graduates of such a
level and profile, nor by the potential for co-operation and cross-fertilisation
between various fields. Rather, fields regulated by Federal law are included,
while those regulated by the Cantons are excluded. If the authorities could
overcome the policy boundaries, they might conclude that important synergies
can arise from locating a broader range of fields within the universities of
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applied science (not only social work and fine arts, as already under way but
also teacher training).
●
Similarly, the growth in applied research has raised questions not only about
links to economic and social demands (specifically, the nature and relevance
of those links) but also about quality (depth, capacity, sustainability) and the
link to teaching.
●
The incentives or steering mechanisms favouring reduction in the number of
small units through mergers seem very weak. At present, each study
programme at each location has on average an intake of less than 30 beginning
students per year. Though the local links and the dispersion of study
opportunities are valuable in many respects, a question can be raised about
whether gains in quality and efficiency can be reached without larger
enrolments in individual departments and programmes at the various locations.
●
Until now it seems little concern has been expressed about the competencies
and the assignment of teaching staff at universities of applied sciences. Inter
alia, a reduction of teaching loads might be needed in order to ensure an
improved knowledge base of teaching.
●
There is a consensus in Switzerland that good opportunities for students and
graduates to transfer from universities of applied sciences to study at
university-level institutions will be important in the future for the
attractiveness of the former. It is generally assumed that a transition rate of
10% or even higher would be an indicator that there is real permeability. The
OECD experts were confronted with reports that co-operation between
universities of applied sciences and university-level institutions seems to work
relatively smoothly with respect to engineering, but not in other fields.
●
Most government and higher education representatives in Switzerland take for
granted that Swiss tertiary education institutions will quickly establish a
bachelor-master stage system of programmes and degrees, and adapt more
generally to the “Bologna process”. Those concerned in Switzerland take the
view that the introduction of bachelor’s degrees will not and should not alter
the distinct academic emphasis within the universities and the applied
emphasis within the universities of applied sciences. In this respect, it is
widely assumed that almost all of those awarded the vocationally oriented
bachelor’s degree at a university of applied sciences will transfer to
employment, while the university bachelor’s degree will be interpreted largely
as transitory, and only a minority of students will leave the universities upon
award of the degree (as appears to have been the case in Denmark when a
bachelor’s degree was introduced in the late 1980s). The Bologna Declaration
did not advance such a narrow pathway. It calls for a first degree to be “relevant
to the European labour market as an appropriate level of qualification” without
reference to any specific type of programme or institution. First degree
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programmes may well vary with respect to theoretical or applied emphases (in
line with the Swiss interpretation), but no bachelor’s degree should be
conceived solely as a transitory qualification (at odds with the Swiss
interpretation). One wonders whether the design of the next stage of the
development of universities of applied sciences should take such a scenario for
granted, or whether a less segmented development of the functions of the two
institutional sectors of higher education could take root. Bachelor’s degrees at
both the universities and the universities of applied sciences could be
developed in such a way as to serve both terminal and transitory functions,
allowing for a certain margin of overlap between university and university of
applied sciences first degree programmes. In some countries, experts already
anticipate a growing overlap of study programmes in different types of
institutions and a further blurring of institutional distinctions. That said,
discussion has been launched among rectors of the universities in Conférence
universitaire suisse (CUS) as well as those of the universities of applied sciences
in the Conseil des hautes écoles spécialisées (CHES), and wider national debate on
the Bologna process is anticipated in 2003.
The universities of applied sciences have very rapidly become a
distinctive, highly visible part of the higher education system in the
Switzerland. Further consolidation and improvements can be expected as a
matter of course over the years. Yet, several major strategic decisions about
the character of the institutions are yet to be taken. That taken in the
late 1990s to set the framework and accredit these new institutions for only
five years turns out to have been a wise one, because all stakeholders are
obliged to reflect on the achievements and limitations of the reform.
The OECD review team recommends:
●
162
Greater permeability in access routes and qualifications, beyond the existing
recognition of the different types of Matura. Permeability of access routes is best
realised if changes in pathways do not require undue prolongation of
studies, if conditions for changing from one path to another are
transparent, and if institutions adopt and follow general rules concerning
such changes (rather than handling on a case-by-case basis). Changes in
access routes and educational pathways should not be isolated exceptions,
but rather sufficiently pursued to indicate responsiveness to varied student
needs and backgrounds. The academic and vocational Matura should
maintain their distinctive emphases. However, first year studies in the
universities should be made more flexible, providing support for students
entering with vocational Matura and other non-conventional access
qualifications and allowing for (supportive) reorientation with no loss of
time to the degree for those wishing to change fields. The colleges should
afford similar flexibility. The one-year training requirement for those
holding academic Matura who seek to enter the colleges should be
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reconsidered, in favour of either revised curricula leading to the academic
and vocational Matura or further adaptations in first year studies in the
universities of applied sciences, or both.
●
Strengthened efforts to promote the participation of young adults from underrepresented groups and Cantons, including but not limited to adaptations to
support learning in secondary schools, greater permeability and flexibility
in access routes and pathways, and improved guidance and counselling
services emphasising a tertiary-wide and lifelong view.
●
Upgrading and integration of teacher training and health education (among
other parts of higher vocational training) in the universities of applied
sciences, to realise synergies arising from locating a broader range fields
within these institutions.
●
Development of the bachelor’s degree as a distinct qualification in both the
universities and the universities of applied sciences. The bachelor’s degree in
whichever institution should be conceived in relation to present and likely
future workplace demands, and in anticipation of a return to learning either
for a long first degree or for professional development. While those
acquiring bachelor’s degrees in universities are more likely to progress
immediately to master’s degree programmes, these bachelor’s degrees
should also serve as preparation for entry into employment. The new
bachelor programmes should be developed and promoted, through policies
and tertiary education/industry partnerships, in ways that help to establish
its position and prevent it from becoming either a full-stop, dead-end
qualification for employment or merely the first years of a regular long
degree. More generally, the existing pathways and qualifications – including
the new bachelor’s degree – need to be conceived as components of a
linked, coherent, complementary range of tertiary education options.
●
Boosting information and guidance for prospective tertiary education students and their
parents, from the end of basic schooling to the end of upper secondary
education. As options within Swiss tertiary education expand, lack of
information about those options will impede a natural evolution in the overall
distribution of students to those options. There would be less opportunity for
an informed reckoning of labour market demand against the known costs (for
the country, individual Cantons and the individual student). The lack of
appropriate information on study options, requirements, pathways, costs and
likely employment consequences would thus stand in the way of both access
and responsiveness to evolving demands in the wider economy.
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Reviews of National Policies for Education
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
© OECD 2003
PART II
Chapter 8
Teaching, Learning and Research:
Achievements, Problems and Reforms
The chapter notes the high quality of research in Swiss universities,
especially in the fields of technical, engineering and natural sciences.
Greater attention should be paid to improving the quality of research
in the domain of social sciences. In the area of teaching, the chapter
argues for new methods of rewarding effective teaching, greater
career opportunities for intermediate category of staff, effective use
of professional training, and use of cross-disciplinary research to
support teaching. While the Swiss tertiary system has a strong
tradition of international collaboration in research and attracts large
numbers of international students, the numbers of Swiss studying
abroad is relatively low and should be augmented.
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8.1. The importance of the research function
Even though the share of research expenditures allocated to universities
typically comes to less than a quarter of public and private R&D, research
often tends to be viewed by those politically and administratively responsible
for tertiary education and by key professionals within its institutions as a key
driver. Close links between research and teaching commonly feature in most
discussions about teaching, particularly in universities. Indisputably,
universities and other tertiary education institutions generate new knowledge
and preserve existing knowledge. These views are held in all OECD countries.
There are substantial differences between countries: in the extent to which
research policies shape higher education policies, including the relationships
between research and teaching in daily life within the universities; the role
research plays as compared to teaching in assessing the performance of those
in academia (for example as criteria of recruitment and promotion); the extent
to which those in academia value teaching, research and outreach functions;
and the role research plays in determining academic identity.
Analysis of recent documents as well as the experience acquired during
the visit of the OECD examiners confirms the view that Switzerland is a
country where tertiary education is strongly engaged in research, and where
tertiary education policies are influenced by issues of research policy. Other
issues often are taken up in relation to research. In Switzerland, research in
science and technology, not least in university-level institutions, assumes a
more prominent place than in most other OECD countries. The importance
accorded research is widely recognised, and it is the Confederation that has
been given the responsibility of supporting research and promoting its quality
(through the ETHZ/EPFL and elsewhere). Concerns about a stagnation in
overall levels of funding at a time of increasing student numbers and rising
costs of research have prompted Confederation representatives and university
rectors to allocate more resources to teaching. Against this dynamic, the OECD
examiners explored both the ways the research function of universities is
understood and realised in Switzerland, and what this implies for various
tasks and activities in tertiary education.
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8.2. Achievements and needed reforms in the core domains
of high-quality research
Experts and actors in the higher education system in Switzerland place
great value on the quality of research. During the visits of the OECD experts,
reference was made to the country’s high ranking in indices of publications and
citations. Among the measures offered as evidence of the quality and extent of
research, the Swiss background report presented to the OECD provides an
overview published in 1998 by the magazine Science on research-intensive
regions in Europe. Two Swiss regions (Geneva/Lausanne and Zurich) as well as
the Swiss-French-German Upper Rhine area placed among the top ten regions
on the measure of publications per capita of population. Even if this measure
favours smaller population centres, it correctly identifies regions with a strong
potential to become breeding grounds for scientific innovation and a
knowledge-based economy. Other measures may be used to demonstrate the
quality and standing of research and technology in Switzerland. The Swiss
Science Agency points out that Switzerland leads the OECD in terms of the
number of scientific publications per 100 000 inhabitants.
The value accorded to high-quality research in science and technology is
reflected in a broad range of policy measures. A few aspects deserve special
attention.
Available information, first, suggests that the financial support for
research at university-level institutions, i.e. universities and institutes of
technology, is very impressive. A detailed international comparison cannot be
provided easily, because cost and funding calculations with respect to higher
education vary substantially by country in terms of items included and
excluded (e.g. hospitals, buildings, capital costs, student expenditures, etc.).
Further, reliable and consistent allocations of costs for teaching, research and
outreach functions do not exist. However, the findings of analyses carried out
to date and the richness visible to outside observers reinforce the view that
research in Switzerland receives a good deal of support.
Second, the Swiss university offers very favourable conditions to senior
academics. University professors are highly remunerated, and individual
chairs are provided with substantial staff support and material resources.
Moreover, university professors seem to experience favourable administrative
conditions for academic entrepreneurship.
Third, in the context of a high appreciation for decentralised supervision
and decision making, research promotion seems to be accepted as an area
where highly centralised and co-ordinated policies are appropriate and needed.
That is significant in a country that values grass-roots decision making. The
Confederation plays a strong role in setting priorities for research promotion as
well as in providing financial support for university-based research.
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Fourth, the promotion of science and technology with emphasis on
university-level research seems to be the area of educational, cultural and
research policy where political consensus can be reached far more easily, and
where readiness for quick and far-reaching action is more likely if not assured.
The establishment of the two Federal institutes of technology in the mid19th century was a historical example of both the readiness for and
willingness to take a big step in response to major challenges. Some are
suggesting that the positioning of the Swiss universities at the beginning of
the 21st century amidst trends of globalisation and a gathering weight
accorded to the knowledge society might be a challenge of a similar order.
However, there seems to be no generally agreed vision.
Fifth, it is the high-quality research achievements in the realm of
scholarship that tend to be valued. As discussed below, much less is said about
the links between university-based research and industry, and there are only
a few areas in which the relevance of research is discussed, particularly with
respect to the major crises and concerns of modern societies. This could signal
less consensus on how far university research should pursue those links, or
how far it should be directed toward applications. Notwithstanding the
expectation that universities engage in basic research and the universities of
applied sciences undertake applied research, one might ask whether the
academic values dominating research in science and engineering sufficiently
lead researchers to pay attention to the potential industry links, and issues
such as the emergence of the knowledge society.
The satisfaction with notable achievements in university-based research
in science and technology intertwines with concerns that such a high
standing is sustained only by continuous and strengthening support.
Arguments in favour of strengthening research in science and technology in
the wake of the current challenges seem to elicit a high degree of consensus in
the public debate, and in some domains corresponding action is taken rapidly.
In this respect, statements of politicians, senior managers in universities and
universities of applied sciences, academics and employers all support
substantial research profiles in Swiss tertiary education, on the basis that
knowledge will play a greater role in the economy and society, global
communication and competition trends will intensify, and other OECD
countries will boost their investments in research. Against this priority, some
identify growing pressure on the funding and resource base. To some extent,
those pressures may arise from competing demands on the public purse.
Higher education policies in the 1980s and 90s had to cope with both
increasing enrolments and research work. As the rising number of students
was absorbed without corresponding increases in the net budget of
universities, research was unable to secure needed funding to maintain
quality and productivity. From this view, high-quality research is at risk unless
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budgets grow more rapidly or efficiency improves. The arguments usually do
not examine carefully the separate evolution of research funding and
instructional funding in relation to underlying costs.
Further, the research priority gives rise to a larger discussion of how
research is best organised and how the landscape needs to be changed. As the
costs tend to increase for individual areas of research, larger units or consortia
emerge as options for maintaining quality. Growing specialisation in research
also drives toward the development of networks. In this process, the
traditional role of the individual university in research seems to be seriously
challenged. Even well-funded universities of scale provide opportunities for
only a few self-sustained top research teams in select fields. This forces the
universities to concentrate their resources on those select areas, to establish
close ties with other institutions, and to give up some areas. All institutions of
higher education have to focus more on choosing priority areas, developing
profiles, searching for niches, and establishing productive networks.
The high ambition of universities in Switzerland to be on the top in every
research area in the conditions of a relatively small country and the relatively
small number of universities make this tendency to profile research a particularly
important issue. Many experts and actors agree that co-operation among the
Swiss universities has to be strengthened in order to increase the quality of
research. Co-operation is also viewed as beneficial in order to continue the
provision of small study programmes at several universities. Therefore, the
Confederation has set up a programme for financial support of inter-university
co-operation and mergers. The OECD review team had the opportunity to observe
and discuss first-hand a substantial number of co-operation, restructuring and
merger activities: the restructuring of functions of the EPF Lausanne, the
University of Lausanne and the University of Geneva; the BENEFRI co-operation of
the universities of Bern, Neuchâtel and Fribourg; the close ties between the
University of Lucerne and the university of applied sciences of that region; the
research co-operation between institutions in Ticino and the ETH Zurich; and the
co-operation in teaching and research in pharmaceutical sciences between Basel
and Zurich. The willingness for co-operation is obvious, but restructuring
disciplines across universities is not easy in Switzerland (or elsewhere), even if
enormous governmental incentives are provided.
These examples show that the process of priority setting, deepening and
broadening in areas of strength, reducing domains and profiling is complex and
difficult. The main principle of restructuring seems to be generally understood,
but any single decision meets with a mix of disparate and contradictory
conditions and forces. One could, however, argue that the established modes
and practices of national deliberations and decisions about priority setting in
research promotion – as well as the “power of the purse” of the Confederation
with respect to the universities and the direct supervision of the institutes of
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technology – reinforce priority setting to such a degree that a restructuring of
the steering system would not be considered vital for assuring the quality of
research in Swiss university-level institutions. In fact, other issues are more
frequently identified as reasons for restructuring the steering system.
The direction of change advocated in terms of overall strengthening of
support and the profiling of the research activities seems to be very widely
shared. In contrast, however, there are divergent and ambivalent views with
respect to other issues frequently claimed to require reconsideration and reform:
●
The role of other disciplines and fields of study.
●
The links of industry and the economy to university-level institutions, as
well as the expected social relevance of these institutions.
●
The internationalisation of higher education.
●
Teaching and learning in higher education.
●
Evaluation in higher education.
8.3. The role of other disciplines and fields of study
Research in science and technology is accorded high priority throughout
the OECD area. The quality of theory, methods, and analysis of findings in
these fields is among the highest in the world. Moreover, these elements are
considered to be among the most crucial for the advancement of productivity
and growth of the economy. Nonetheless, there are differences by country in
the extent to which other disciplines and cross-disciplinary areas also play a
significant role in research and in the proportions of students in science and
engineering compared to students in other fields.
With respect to patterns of student enrolment, OECD data show that the
proportion of 1999 graduates from tertiary-type A and advanced programmes
in the scientific and technological fields in Switzerland was 43% as compared
to an OECD average of 38%. Switzerland’s neighbour countries of France, Italy,
Austria and Germany recorded graduate shares in these fields of, respectively,
31%, 38%, 40% and 51%.
Basic funding within universities and public research promotion strongly
supports science and technology – probably, in relative terms, at levels beyond
what most other OECD countries provide. The most obvious evidence is the
generous funding of the two Swiss institutes of technology, basically by the
Confederation. The Swiss research policy programme set up in 1999 named
five areas of targeted research promotion:
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●
Life sciences.
●
Humanities and social sciences.
●
Sustainable development and ecology.
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●
Information and communication technology.
●
Nano-technology.
The first four of these areas are identified in the four-year plan agreed by the
Federal Council in 2000, although nano-technology continues to be supported.
The Swiss background report points out that various technological areas
have to be named as well as priority areas, such as micro technology, material
sciences and medical technology. The fields listed extend beyond science,
engineering and technology. The Swiss Commission for Technology and
Innovation and the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology
have identified engineering as a priority for applied R&D at the universities of
applied sciences.
During the OECD examiners’ visit, three areas outside the major science and
technology fields were most frequently named as subjects accorded emphasis:
●
Switzerland was viewed as a country that takes ecological concerns
seriously: various research activities were mentioned that combine a range
of disciplines in order to improve the knowledge base on ecological matters.
●
Ethical dimensions in a knowledge society were often raised in
conversations. Ethical conflicts related to science and technology and the
strong tradition of theology at Swiss universities seem to meet here.
●
At both institutes of technology in Switzerland, agreement has been
reached that engineering curricula should comprise – and often already
do – a strong component of humanities and social sciences (usually about
15% of the study programmes).
In addition, various themes are identified as suitable for building bridges
across disciplines. For example, research co-operation emerged between the
Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, the University of Lausanne and the
University of Geneva around the theme “Science, Life and Society”.
The ambitious programme for establishing new universities in Luzern,
Ticino and Aargau provide other illustrative examples. Although the plans
were not accepted initially in the 1970s by the population of the respective
Cantons, two plans eventually succeeded in the late 1990s and in 2000. A
concept of architectural science, enriched by ideas from cultural sciences and
humanities, was the key for the establishment of the university in Italianspeaking Switzerland, which also took on board the demands arising from the
region’s position as a financial centre and other local interests in the
communications field. The traditions of theology and the humanities were in
the heart of the Luzern initiative. The search for distinctiveness within the
dominant patterns of Swiss higher education and research might have
facilitated the foundation of these institutions.
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By and large, however, many disciplines outside the areas of science and
engineering remain stepchildren of Swiss research policy. In a rich society,
concern over societal issues often remains at too low a level for those issues to
become major themes for investigation. Some experts have traced an
apparently low regard for the cultural and social sciences to the low level of
student protests in1968 in Switzerland. Others point out that the strong role
played by the Cantons in social and cultural domains ironically might prove an
obstacle to those subjects becoming prominent in the Canton-funded
universities, because without Confederation involvement support for such
activities will be limited. Finally, Swiss research in humanities and social
science often is less visible because the close ties to the neighbouring
countries with a common language are often more important in these areas
than are common Swiss perspectives across language zones.
Yet even as pressure mounts for Swiss tertiary education to remain in top
ranks in the key areas of science and technology, there is a growing awareness
of problems and complexities that might call for other areas to be accorded
priority as well as new cross-disciplinary approaches. Concerns such as those
regarding the effects of ever-burgeoning traffic, fires in tunnels, the
breakdown of Swissair and violence in the political arena – or less vocal
issues, such as ageing of the population – could highlight the relative neglect
of cultural and social research. Such research could enrich the knowledge base
used to address salient problems outside the core interests of science and
technology research.
Teacher training in Switzerland was little discussed during the OECD
reviewers’ study visit, and no visit was arranged to a university teaching
department or a teacher training institution. In the past, training for primary
school teachers was partly viewed as an entry-level programme of vocational
training upon completion of lower secondary education. In recent years, most
Cantons have moved to establish tertiary education-level teacher training
institutions separately from those for universities of applied sciences. A few
Cantons even set up primary teacher education in the framework of
universities. Even if the forces at play favour more national co-ordination in
most areas of tertiary education, Cantons seem to prefer close and regional
oversight of teacher education.
8.4. The links with industry and the economy
Swiss tertiary education policy, more strongly than such policies in most
other countries, gives priority to the aim of achieving high-quality science and
technology research in university-level institutions. This policy is justified on
practical grounds and with a utilitarian argument: focusing on that priority
contributes to the economic well-being of the country. However, the
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achievements of this research tend to be explained according to internal
criteria of the science system (research grants, publications, citations, etc.).
Given this emphasis in higher education policy, it is surprising to note how
little reference was made in the Swiss report and by representatives of tertiary
education institutions to the structure of the economy and the needs one
could infer from it, or to the employers’ expectations, political activities and
financial contributions. In all countries – not just Switzerland – employers’
voices tend to be heterogeneous and the links between higher education and
the economy are multifaceted and often also ambivalent. Still, the Swiss scene
seems best characterised by an even greater gap between the larger rationale
of the economic need for high-quality science and technology research on the
one hand and, on the other, detailed analyses, thorough dialogues and
targeted policies to produce a desirable composition of close links, indirect
links and deliberate non-links between higher education and the economy. Of
course, OECD examiners were informed about strong ties and money flows
that often are downplayed in public in order to underscore the autonomy and
critical role of the universities.
In conversations with the OECD team about the need to strengthen the
quality of research in science and technology, Swiss representatives
underscored that government had made available increasing resources for
research in these sectors. Not a single claim or suggestion was made that the
share of contributions by industry could increase significantly. It seems to be
taken for granted that industry would cover at most 10-15% of the expenses,
notably in those sectors in which industry is highly interested.
Relations between Swiss industry and science and technology at
university-level institutions sometimes were described as loose and not
without tension. Those professors and institutes seeking close ties were in
part viewed as neglecting the basic research mandate of the university.
Support from industry for students writing their doctoral theses were
described by some professors as a mixed blessing, because they often
discouraged students from improving their theoretical and methodological
knowledge base. Such tensions are not unique to Switzerland, and approaches
to address them are of wide interest.
Few activities in few fields favour establishing private higher education
institutions in Switzerland. Private institutions in the domain of business
studies, communications, etc., might well emerge. For example, it was pointed
out that the University of St. Gallen, which is specialised in economics and
business studies, would have sufficient “market strength and know-how” to
become a private university. One might also expect private higher education
from other countries to establish more branch campuses in Switzerland or to
increase their transnational programme provisions. But there is no
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expectation that a private university could be established with particular
strengths in science and engineering.
The scale and priorities in science and engineering departments reflect to
some extent the research and development needs of Swiss industry, but
obviously no need is felt to seek a closer match in the future. On the contrary, a
broad range of strong areas of research is often advocated even if Swiss science
and technology research is internationally competitive. Respective areas of
industry research and development might already have ceased to exist or might
disappear in the future as a consequence of economic globalisation. Or, firms
from other parts of the world might become partners, or move their research
and development activities or even their production to Switzerland.
The situation is different for the newly established universities of applied
sciences. They aim to increase their role of applied research and actively seek
co-operation with industry in their neighbourhood, across the country and in
some cases abroad. At this early stage of their development, college
engagement in applied research and transfer remains uneven. The University of
Applied Sciences in Ticino is heavily involved in technology transfer to more
than 100 enterprises in the region, many of which are SMEs. More generally, the
Commission for Technology and Innovation in charge of support for applied
research at universities of applied sciences and other tertiary education
institutions stimulates close links between these institutions and industry.
Swiss industry is represented in major co-ordination bodies of research
and as well as in university boards. Altogether, it seems to be less vocal in public
regarding issues of higher education and science policy than industry in many
other countries. It is difficult for outsiders to discern whether this is a sign of
little interest or influence, or an indication of high satisfaction with the existing
channels of communication and co-operation, informal as well as formal.
The labour market for university graduates in Switzerland gave rise to fewer
concerns for students, employers and representatives of the tertiary education
system during the 1990s than in many other OECD member countries.
Unemployment of graduates in Switzerland was relatively low in comparison to
many other European graduates, and even declined over the 1990s. As already
noted, income differences between university graduates and those acquiring
advanced vocational skills are relatively small. University graduate careers
offered sufficient status and stability to be viewed as attractive, but were not so
attractive that individual demand for university education increased enormously.
In the 1990s, however, an increasing number of young people opted for university
education, which raised the concerns of a declining pool of highly talented
students seeking vocational training. It is worth noting, though, that voices from
the Swiss economy advocating increasing enrolment and graduation rates were
often stronger than those from the university system.
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Finally, the OECD team encountered few references to possible
improvements in links between Switzerland as an important banking and
commercial location in the world and the development of economic research
in the country. In this domain, universities seem to be viewed primarily as
important providers of well-trained graduates but only in a few – highly
praised – cases as providers of a research-founded knowledge base (e.g. the
University of Zurich Institute, with Confederation and industry support
through the Banking and Finance Foundation). The scale of research in this
field is much larger, owing to large research units established within the
banking and finance sector itself. A question is whether the scale and scope of
research within universities is significant enough to complement the research
effort in the private sector and to nourish, in partnership with the private
sector teaching, learning and inquiry in relevant university departments and
programmes. This problem, however, certainly is not unique to Switzerland.
This does not mean, however, that Swiss university-level institutions are
not making efforts to improve the links between their activities and industry.
For example, universities have in recent years stepped up efforts to ensure
that the practice-relevant research findings translate into patents.
8.5. Internationalisation of higher education
The institutions of higher education in Switzerland are more visibly
embedded internationally than institutions of higher education in any other
OECD member country. The proportion of students with foreign citizenship
has typically been the largest, and this did not change in recent years when
overall enrolment of Swiss students at university-level institutions grew and
when the less internationally oriented higher vocational schools were
upgraded to universities of applied sciences. In 2000, about one-fifth of the
Swiss higher education students were citizens of foreign countries. The
proportion of foreign students is above average in science and engineering. On
the other hand, it is quite low in law and medical areas.
Similarly, the proportion of senior academic staff holding foreign
citizenship is exceptionally high in Switzerland, according to the Swiss
background report: more than one-third of professors (36.2%) and a similar
share of intermediate-level staff (36.4%). These shares have increased since
the mid-1980s. More than two-thirds of those holding foreign citizenship
come from neighbouring countries (Germany, France, Italy and Austria).
It should be noted that the largest group of foreign students – representing
about half – come from neighbouring countries and study in the Swiss region
where they can use their native language. Most notably, large numbers of French
students enrol at French-speaking universities. Also, study provisions in
economic and business fields at the University of St. Gallen are so highly regarded
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that the majority of students would have come from Germany and Austria had
the university not set a numerus clausus for students from those countries. The
high numbers of students in Switzerland from neighbouring countries reflect
both the close cultural ties of the regions with a shared language across the
borders and the relatively high reputation of Swiss universities.
One-third of the foreign students in Switzerland were already there prior
to study and had acquired Swiss academic or the professional Matura. As in
most other European countries, youth in Switzerland holding a foreign
citizenship are under-represented in the pool of young adults with higher
education access qualifications. But for Switzerland, this is an issue of a
different order: about one-quarter of the Swiss population has moved to the
country since 1945 or consists of their children or grandchildren. The chance
of the children of foreigners living in Switzerland eventually enrolling in
institutions of higher education is only about one-third that of the children of
the Swiss citizens. This is viewed in the country as a general social issue or as
a problem of the schools, not an issue of higher education.
The number of foreign students with foreign citizenship in Switzerland
from other than neighbouring countries is remarkably high – about one in
20 students at Swiss institutions of higher education. Even though lower than
for the two other categories named above, for which statistics are not available
that would allow for a comparison, it seems justified to estimate that that rate
is among the highest of the OECD member countries. This reflects the high
reputation of Swiss universities, the relatively low tuition fees they charge,
and the efforts of many professors, among them notably foreign professors, to
attract students from abroad.
The Swiss universities of applied sciences, with the exception of a few
departments and locations, are in the initial process of establishing ties to enable
and sustain student and staff mobility. Both the upgrading to higher education
and the “Bologna process” have turned out to be a boost in this respect.
In regard to the lack of mobility of Swiss students themselves, one
statement made during the course of conversations pointed to the sources of
a reluctance to undertake studies elsewhere: “If Swiss students want to be
internationally mobile, they have to cross two borders: that of their Canton
and that of their country”. In talks with upper secondary students, the OECD
experts encountered few that expressed interest in future study abroad.
With respect to intercultural intra-Switzerland movement of students,
mobility between the French-speaking and German-speaking regions of
Switzerland is low and relatively complicated. In contrast, mobility from the
Italian-speaking Swiss region to the other regions is customary as a matter of
necessity, because the university in the Italian-speaking region is new and
covers only a small range of fields and because study at an Italian university
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was not always viewed as the appropriate option for a subsequent career in
Switzerland. International mobility between neighbouring countries with the
same language seems to be viewed as a more natural option than intraSwitzerland mobility across language zones. The University of Fribourg is
somewhat of an exception in this respect, with some programmes for both
language groups and some bilingual programmes. In the early 1990s, the
Swiss authorities and institutions of higher education undertook various
steps to facilitate and encourage intra-Switzerland mobility across language
zones. The Swiss background report argues that the recognition of temporary
inter-university mobility is now guaranteed through a contract signed by all
Swiss universities. However, students reported to the OECD expert team that
they encountered persistent difficulties, notably with respect to academic
recognition for students wishing to transfer for the purpose of graduating at
another university in another language zone.
As regards international co-operation in research and education,
Switzerland is quite active in facilitating and signing contracts of cooperation, easing recognition, etc. Engagement in the European space for
higher education is regarded as proof of the dynamism of Swiss higher
education, indeed of its quality. Some barriers stem from the fact that
Switzerland, though eager to co-operate internationally, only recently decided
to join the United Nations and remains outside the European Union to which
all their neighbours have joined except Liechtenstein. Various co-operation
contracts assure that Switzerland can join most of the EU educational and
research co-operation and mobility activities; yet, the processes are more
complicated in some instances and seem to lead in various programmes to
lower participation than might otherwise be the case.
As a consequence, those interested in international co-operation are very
active in trying to reduce most other potential barriers. For example, the
European credit system ECTS is being introduced rapidly at all university-level
institutions in Switzerland. ECTS facilitates recognition of temporary study
periods abroad upon return to the home country. Yet, in spite of the nearunanimous enthusiasm for ECTS – and Switzerland is hosting a major Bologna
follow-up conference in Autumn 2002 – the OECD reviewers heard little about
plans for actual changes to accommodate the ECTS system in the practice of
teaching, learning and assessment, even within the context of discussions
concerning the Bologna two-stage structure. And, there are competing forces
and interests at play. Swiss tertiary education institutions look for cooperation and competition to the English-speaking countries, including the
United States. But the languages of instruction remain the national languages.
For their part, student unions in Europe as a whole have expressed concerns
about the wider European space for higher education.
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Many research laboratories at Swiss university-level institutions in the
area of science and technology have moved toward the use of English as a
medium of communication in order to facilitate participation of foreign
doctoral students and staff. There are some first degree programmes available
in the English language at Swiss university-level institutions as well. It
remains to be seen, though, whether Swiss higher education institutions will
establish larger proportions of programmes in the English language.
It was pointed out to the OECD reviewers that foreign junior academics
wishing to work at Swiss institutions of higher education often face difficulties
in getting work permits and residence permits. In contrast to the flexible
arrangement in the case of permanent employment of foreign professors, the
mobility of junior academics seems to have remained a problem.
8.6. Teaching, learning and staff careers
The climate of teaching and learning at Swiss institutions of higher
education has much in common with that of neighbouring countries sharing
the same language. For example, it is said that German-language Swiss
universities expect more choices to be made by students, more independence,
less control of regular presence of students in classes and less emphasis on
examinations before the final ones than the French-language Swiss
universities. The major difference with neighbouring countries might lie in
the extraordinarily strong emphasis placed in Switzerland on research.
Moreover, universities in Switzerland and its neighbour countries have in
common a lesser emphasis on educational techniques, guidance of students,
etc., than universities in English-speaking and northern European countries.
All these traditions combine with the relatively high academic reputation
and mostly small universities and departments to explain why there have
been few efforts to improve educational methods, strengthen support
measures or promote a student-centred attitude. Educational competence
continues to be expected to develop through learning by doing in the process
of a research-oriented academic career. A number of universities approach
this matter through measures to evaluate teachers, and for the universities of
applied sciences, a common effort has been launched by the CSHES and the
Confederation with the aim of boosting teaching skills of staff.
The Swiss background report hardly refers to issues of curricula, teaching
or learning. Some efforts were made to improve the educational competencies
of the teaching staff at the newly established universities of applied sciences,
and a few activities undertaken by individual Swiss universities were
identified principally as efforts to improve the educational quality. However,
little is known in Switzerland about the students’ views of learning, their
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expectations from tertiary-level studies or the student experience. Little by
way of systematic effort is devoted to improving teaching and learning.
Study provisions in almost all cases cater to full-time students and seem
to take for granted that most of the students are young. Further education
activities were not high on the agenda until the Federal government set up a
support programme in 1990 for the establishment of continuing education
offices at universities. After this support programme was phased out, a
working group of the Swiss University Rectors’ Conference tried to sustain the
effort by encouraging continuous co-operation among these offices. At most
institutions, continuing education does not seem to play a prominent role.
In contrast to the expectations and practices of many universities, the
universities of applied sciences are legally mandated to handle continuing
professional education. They provide various types of advanced-level
programmes as well as other courses of continuing professional education.
The OECD reviewers are not in a position to assess the state of affairs of
teaching and learning in Swiss higher education with respect to strengths and
weaknesses. However, educational issues seem not to be very high on the
agenda: they are not seen as issues that warrant major concern.
An impetus for change may be found in the rapid penetration of new
information technologies throughout Swiss society and within tertiary
education. Communication between students and teachers through email has
taken on a bigger role. Distance learning with the help of ICT is spreading in
the framework of the Swiss Virtual Campus, an inter-university project
supported by funds of the Confederation. Inter-university co-operation in
Switzerland in some cases takes the form of tele-lectures. The use of ICT in
teaching and learning is quickly spreading as a consequence of the relatively
generous facilities of Swiss universities. However, the initiatives and
responses have until now been developing on their own. Priority-setting
policies, not least for the Swiss Virtual Campus, should figure in the plan to be
agreed for the four-year period beginning in 2004.
With respect to both teaching and research, the relatively favourable
conditions for Swiss professors stand in contrast with the often precarious
situation of junior and intermediate academic staff. Professors are privileged
with respect to remuneration, staff support and facilities. In contrast, junior
and intermediate rank academic staff seem to be very moderately
remunerated, particularly when price levels and careers in Switzerland
outside academia are taken into account. Employment is perhaps too often
part-time – even more often in intermediate ranks than in junior ranks. Many
face high risk with respect to their future careers in academia, and so feel
strongly dependent on the individual professor with whom they work. New
support from the Confederation and the Swiss National Fund aims to create
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more positions for young academic staff, short-term professorships for those
in academia not yet appointed to regular professorships, and assistant
professorships whose holders could be promoted upon evaluation to regular
professor positions. Yet, up to the present, the dependent and uncertain
position of junior and intermediate staff under conditions of a strong research
emphasis discourages young scholars who might otherwise be interested in
cultivating teaching competencies.
8.7. Evaluation
Although comparative data on research performance are used to judge and
confirm the quality of research in Swiss tertiary education, a culture of evaluation
and day-to-day reflection on performance and impact has yet to emerge.
In recent years, interest in systematic evaluation has increased, triggered
by the rapid change in university administration toward the concepts of new
public management (NPM), as well as by similar moves in other countries to
extend and strengthen activities often called “quality assurance”. Various
universities introduced internal evaluation schemes. When the universities of
applied sciences were established, provisions were taken for the future
accreditation of courses. Most recently, an institution was created in 2001 that
will define the needs of accreditation and quality assurance, and examine the
compliance of universities with respect to guidelines yet to be established.
It is still premature to judge the direction in which the new evaluation
activities will head. Evaluation processes can be applied to several matters of
interest; clarity of purpose and links among the range of evaluation activities
should drive the nature and contents of those processes. Will evaluation
activities reflect an emphasis on accreditation, i.e. securing information on
resources, resource allocation, programmes and processes in relation to the
“minimum” levels set for an acceptable, accredited institution? Or, will they
play a role with respect to legitimising foreign branch campuses and other
private higher education programmes? Will there be common standards for all
institutions and programmes, and assessment be undertaken with this in
mind, or will it reinforce adaptability for diverse purposes? Will evaluation
reinforce Swiss concerns about high-quality research, or will various
evaluation activities serve to identify strengths and weaknesses of teaching,
counselling, etc., as means to stimulate improvement in these areas? Will
individual universities continue to run their own evaluation systems, or will
they establish a common scheme?
A discussion between the OECD reviewers and representatives of the
rectors of universities as well as of universities of applied sciences suggests
that the achievements realised and the problems experienced in other
countries in this area still have to be absorbed in Switzerland before targeted
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policies can emerge. Certainly, one might expect the emergence of a more
coherent system of evaluation in Switzerland within the next few years.
8.8. The overall situation
The strong emphasis on research in Swiss universities has been
reinforced by the anticipated demands and needs of the emerging knowledge
society and the implications in terms of scale, quality, costs and competition
arising from a continuing trend toward the globalisation of tertiary education
and research. Teaching is less visibly a target for policy or concern, because
most actors seem to be convinced that the quality of students and graduates
is high, that the supply more or less matches the demand of the labour
market, and that further expansion of enrolment might be largely taken on
board by the universities of applied sciences. The OECD reviewers noted
various interesting educational experiments as well as a growing role for
evaluation in tertiary education that also addresses the teaching function. But
altogether, calls for improvement in teaching and learning in tertiary
education seem to meet less favourable responses than calls for improvement
of the conditions of research in the academic community, among politicians
and the Swiss public.
The OECD reviewers were impressed to see how far strategic thinking is a
matter of course in Swiss tertiary education policy and institutions. There is a
high awareness of the international context, the potentials and limits of the
country, the global competition in science and engineering research, and the
need for efficient resource utilisation. Also, influential and powerful
professors seem to accept by and large the recent trends in tertiary education
policy and governance, trends that shift decision making for resources and
programmes toward senior institutional managers and heads of departments.
Strategic thinking appears to be most advanced with respect to processes of
research and institutional effectiveness and efficiency, and far less developed
when applied to matters such as the role of the university, universities of
applied sciences and other tertiary education institutions vis-à-vis society.
Judging from the relatively short visit by foreign experts, there appears to be
relatively little extended reflection or debate on the possible changing
functions of tertiary education with respect to the culture of the country, any
utopian views of major shifts of function, the changing character of
democracy in a highly educated society, or similar questions and visions. If
this assessment accurately reflects the reality, then strategic thinking may
rely on existing assumptions about purposes and so be concerned primarily
with operational aspects. Notwithstanding indications of openness on the
part of teachers and senior managers of tertiary education institutions to
listen and respond to student concerns and needs, the impression formed by
the OECD reviewers is that the student experience – changes in lifestyles,
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values, aspirations and job prospects – is not viewed as a major issue area for
tertiary education policy. For example, there seems to be little substantial
debate about possible challenges of student mobility for the character of
tertiary education. Such is not the case in other European countries, where
cross-border study experiences have led to calls for substantial changes in
teaching and learning. Discussion in Switzerland on this dynamic aspect of
student life seems to revolve around issues such as the use of English as a
language of instruction and the introduction of ECTS, but not with major
challenges for the contexts, contents and methods of teaching and learning.
The OECD review team recommends:
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Adaptations in pedagogy to respond to the widening diversity of
backgrounds, talents and pathways of students in the expanded tertiary
education system. Changes in the composition of the potential student pool
as well as in the competition among institutions call for a more considered
review of pedagogical practices in universities as well as the universities of
applied sciences and other tertiary-level programmes. Course modules and
study programmes at universities should take into account new and
different ways to interrogate and learn from the knowledge base. Students
at the universities of applied sciences and other tertiary-level institutions,
no less than those at the universities, need to be exposed to cutting-edge
research questions, reflection and findings.
●
Strengthening further research and teaching in the social sciences and
humanities, and incorporating cross-disciplinary dimensions. The readiness to
increase public investment in research, particularly in science and technology,
should be taken as an opportunity to search for a new balance in the research
profile, aims and methods. Support for research in the social sciences and the
humanities should be strengthened. System-wide co-ordination can also
benefit from research in humanities, the social sciences and cross-disciplinary
work. Indeed, cross-disciplinary teaching and research should be encouraged
throughout tertiary education. In this regard, the integration of social science
and humanities within science and engineering curricula at the institutes of
technology serves as an important and welcome development.
●
Strengthening further the social and cross-disciplinary dimensions of
research activity. The readiness to increase public investment in research,
particularly in science and technology, should be taken as an opportunity to
search for a new balance in the research profile and its aims and methods.
Criteria for excellence in research should be broadened from standard
academic criteria to include contributions to informing the public debate on
– and helping to develop practical responses for addressing – such key
societal issues (partly associated with the emerging knowledge society) as
environmental damage, the weakening of the social fabric and an ageing
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population. Those issues, among others, can also benefit from research in
the humanities, the social sciences and cross-disciplinary work. While
some of these fields have been identified as priorities for funding, and the
integration of social science and humanities within science and
engineering curricula has advanced at the institutes of technology, greater
attention to the academic, economic, social and cultural potential of other
disciplines and cross-disciplinary work is warranted.
●
Boosting professional education and training activities within universities
and universities of applied sciences, in part through promoting
strengthened links with industry. Notwithstanding the rich tradition within
advanced vocational training for adult and continuing education,
professional education and training should be conceived in new ways and
boosted through new policies fostering wide partnership. Such policies
should aim to engage the respective parties beyond the informal
arrangements that exist today. Targeted policies should aim to extend
technology transfer and professional education and training to the SMEs,
engaging in different ways both the universities and universities of applied
sciences. New incentives, perhaps incorporated in the performance
mandates, could be used to encourage partnership among universities, the
universities of applied sciences and other institutions of tertiary education.
●
Extending the internationalisation of Swiss tertiary education to teaching
and curricula. Policies and institutional practices should aim to advance
study programmes and course modules that draw from and accommodate
backgrounds and perspectives from all countries, building on the cultural
and language diversity that exists within Switzerland. Steps should be
taken to adapt curricula and conditions in ways that welcome children with
foreign citizenship or foreign-born parents who followed primary and
secondary education in Swiss schools, and to facilitate and further
encourage intra-Swiss mobility across language zones and mobility across
national borders, including to countries other than immediate neighbours.
Strategies for the international recruitment, exchange and engagement of
university and college staff, in a global perspective, should be widened and
strengthened in ways that contribute to teaching, learning and improved
curricula as well as high-quality research. Second and third languages of
instruction should be considered as elements of strateg ies.
Internationalisation as a concept guiding policy and practice should focus
on the contents and nature of study programmes and course modules, not
simply international mobility and co-operation.
●
Improving working and employment conditions for junior and middle-level
staff. Though some measures have been taken recently to create better
conditions for the stage between intermediate and senior ranks, additional
measures are needed.
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Reviews of National Policies for Education
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
© OECD 2003
PART II
Chapter 9
From Control and Administration
to Steering and Management
The Swiss system of tertiary education has a very complex system
of steering, governance and financing. The responsibility of
oversight is shared between the cantons and the Confederation
through a complex set of rules that vary by the nature and history
of the institutions. Within the federal domain, the responsibility for
the vocational and academic streams rests within different
departments. The degree of autonomy of the newly created
universities of applied sciences is far less than enjoyed by the
traditional academic universities. Internal management of tertiary
institutions needs strengthening to ensure transparency and
accountability. This chapter deals with the challenges of governing
the tertiary system and proposes measures to improve overall
steering and effective governance.
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9.1. Introduction
Changes in governance lie at the heart of the Swiss tertiary education
reforms. New relationships are envisaged between the actors – the
Confederation, Cantons, tertiary education institutions, municipal authorities,
industry, and the public at large, current and prospective students – leading to a
redistribution of responsibilities within a more open and dynamic tertiary
education landscape. The changes have as their main aim the fostering of
efficient and responsive advances toward agreed goals of quality, access and
equity. In the Swiss context, the changes seek greater coherence even as
responsibilities are now more widely shared among the actors.
9.2. Major trends of reforms
A key basis for the reforms under way is that the forces of co-ordination have
to be strengthened. No one with whom the OECD experts met in Confederation or
Cantonal government or within the institutions argued for the status quo. A need
is felt, first, to increase nationwide co-ordination through a stronger
Confederation role and improved co-operation among Cantons, and also to
improve collaboration among government, representatives of the tertiary
education system and other stakeholders in the development of a vision for the
future and in the preparation of general regulations and guidelines. Second,
Federal and Cantonal authorities are expected to develop a more targeted and
coherent system of regulations and incentives guiding the activities of tertiary
education. Third, tertiary education institutions are expected to progress further
in their implementation of managerial practice that sets clear targets and aligns
consistent day-to-day practices with those targets.
A move towards stronger nationwide co-ordination and more targeted
steering in the relationships between government and tertiary education
institutions is not motivated by a desire for national control and administration.
On the contrary, such a centralised approach generates concerns that cultural
diversity might suffer and that a sweeping policy will fail. Moreover, the general
political climate seems to favour pragmatic step-by-step reforms rather than
developing and implementing a grand vision. But the demands for expansion
and for strengthening high-quality research are so pressing – and the danger of
losing a strong position in the growing global competition is considered so
threatening – that major efforts are called for. Equality concerns also figure in
the development of policies that apply system-wide.
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9.3. The federal-canton governmental system and the steering
of tertiary education
Traditionally, Swiss higher education has been a responsibility of the
Cantons. Although only a minority of the 26 Cantons and half-Cantons run
universities, the universities are Cantonal institutions reflecting and
transmitting religious, cultural, linguistic and economic diversity. It was only
when science expanded and became vital for the national economy in the
mid-19th century that the Confederation founded the technical universities.
About the same time the Confederation also took responsibility for research
funding. Almost a hundred years later, in 1968, the Confederation began to
subsidise Cantonal universities.
Today, universities receive public funding from three sources. The
Cantons that run universities provide more than half of this funding (57%).
The Confederation contributes 27% (including the National Science
Foundation). An increasingly important share of public funding, now at 16%,
comes from Cantons with students attending universities outside their
borders. Rising costs had led to large inter-Cantonal money flows in recent
years, rising by almost 40% in the three-year period to 2001. In 1999, the
Federal Law on the Promotion of Universities provided, in addition to
subsidies, a basis for required co-operation and co-ordination in tertiary
education policy through joint bodies of the Confederation and the Cantons.
So far, the CUS has been the only body of this kind to be established.
In 1994, the Confederation became more active in tertiary education. The
European Commission Directive 89/48/EEC on the recognition of higher
education diplomas awarded on completion of professional education and
training of at least three years’ duration inspired the Federal law that provided
the basis for establishing universities of applied sciences. This was
accomplished through an upgrading of higher vocational schools and a
reorganisation of the vocational sector.
The Confederation’s circumscribed involvement in tertiary education and
its principal responsibility for the economy have meant that at the Federal
level responsibilities for education, research and technology are shared
between two departments. The Department of the Interior is responsible for
university education (with the exception of the two institutes of technology),
whereas the universities of applied sciences are a responsibility of the
Department for Economics. Further, while the Confederation is restricted in
principle to steering by funding for the universities (with the exception of the
two institutes of technology), it has regulatory competence with regard to the
universities of applied sciences.
Prior to the OECD review team’s visit, a draft constitutional amendment
had been sent out for general consultation. The draft amendment sets as its
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rationale to support the co-ordinating provisions of the Federal University
Promotion Law of 1999 and to provide a constitutional basis for coherent
policy in the whole area of tertiary education (universities, institutes of
technology and universities of applied sciences) through joint responsibilities
of the Confederation and the Cantons. “Co-operative federalism” captures the
orientation of the envisaged redistribution of responsibilities.
The draft amendment is based on proposals of a working and steering
group that included representatives of the Confederation, the Cantons and
academia. The proposed amendment concerns all higher education
institutions, whether they are run by the Cantons or the Confederation or are
private institutions – i.e. universities – institutes of technologies, universities of
applied sciences, teacher training institutions, as fine arts or music schools. The
draft amendment states that the Confederation and the Cantons are to provide
a favourable framework that allows these institutions to secure quality in
teaching and research. It then establishes eight areas where the Confederation
and the Cantons are to adopt common principles of policy making: institutional
autonomy, access, recognition of courses and institutions, mobility of students,
teachers and researchers, recognition of degrees and certificates, quality
assurance, and funding. Although the draft amendment brings private tertiary
education under accreditation processes, the criteria to be applied are not yet
clear. So, the extent to which these principles will also apply to private tertiary
education remains an open question.
Further, with the results of the consultation in hand, the Federal Council
directed that the legislative process should be pursued on the basis of a
fundamental rethinking of the scope of competencies to be attributed to the
Confederation, the Cantons and the individual tertiary education institutions.
Thus, the proposals to be presented to Parliament in Spring 2003 may differ
from the principles set out in the draft amendment. The latter reinforces the
provision of the 1999 University Promotion Law that joint institutions of the
Confederation and the Cantons may be created to fulfil co-ordinating tasks.
Neither the competence of the Confederation to run tertiary education
institutions, nor its subsidies for tertiary education institutions run by the
Cantons or others, are changed. The draft amendment, however, clarifies that
such subsidies may depend on the adoption of common principles and on
co-ordinating tertiary education policy.
As the OECD review team learned, intensified country-wide co-ordination
in policy development and implementation responds to several acknowledged
problems. For example, many institutions are too small and too expensive,
regional inequalities need to be tackled, inter-Swiss mobility of students
needs to be strengthened, tertiary education institutions require more
autonomy and at the same time must be held accountable for what they do,
the relationship between universities and universities of applied sciences
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needs to be discussed and clarified, and Swiss tertiary education should form
part of the European higher education area. However, views differ on who
should take the lead and how far coherence and co-ordination (co-operative
federalism) should go.
Although Confederation involvement has increased in almost every
policy portfolio, the tradition of leaving decisions and administration to the
lowest policy level and legitimising those decisions by direct democracy is
powerful in Switzerland, and a core element of the Swiss identity. On the basis
of existing arrangements and traditions, co-ordination and the necessary
amount of harmonisation are best secured by inter-Cantonal activities and
agreements. The Confederation level is to be limited to policy making in areas
of nationwide interest. Traditionally, education, including tertiary education,
has not been such an area. To some extent the situation resembles that in the
European Union, where Community and intergovernmental actions in
education were similarly defined.
Cantons that run universities do so because they deem them important
for their autonomy and for regional and local identity. Even as the
interdependencies among Cantons in economic activity grow, Canton-run
universities help both to legitimise federalism and to defend cultural diversity.
The two newly founded universities in Luzern and Lugano may serve as
examples of the regional function of universities. Rising costs, however, make
it increasingly difficult for the Cantons to run full-fledged universities. Some
Cantons tried to increase efficiency by strengthening institutional autonomy
and then controlling public expenditure through contracts between the
Canton and the university (in line with the concept of new public
management). Increased contributions from non-university Cantons also
have helped to close the gap between rising costs and available resources
within the “host” Canton.
The Confederation has also come under pressure to increase its
subsidies. It changed its funding and steering mechanisms with regarding to
Federal institutions, increasing institutional autonomy and responsibility.
Concerning Cantonal universities, the Confederation pressed for more cooperation, economies of scale and the creation of centres of excellence.
Among others, the Federal Government provided subsidies for various reforms
and restructuring activities, e.g. co-operation and mergers of departments.
Universities have finally begun to react to changing circumstances and to
develop or expand their co-operation via the creation of “university
networks”, also in partnership with universities of applied sciences. Two
developments among those far-reaching changes under way are worth
highlighting. First, there is a radical shift in the structure of tertiary education,
as seen in the fusion and boosting of the universities of applied sciences. The
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second development consists of a novel approach for building up a critical
mass for knowledge creation, dissemination and exploitation that is
especially promising for a small country. Good examples of this include
networking initiatives such as the Lémanique project leading both to a
sharper profiling of the three research-based establishments in the region,
and new co-operation in teaching and research – among them, the BENEFRI
and “Campus Lucerne” initiatives and links between Basel University and its
nearby university of applied sciences. These initiatives find parallels in other
OECD countries, e.g. the national (and international) aspirations of Network
Norway and the regional arrangements fostered through the French pôles
universitaires and the “super-structure” of the University of Antwerp.
Basically, the reactions of the Confederation and Cantons to rising costs
are quite similar – strengthening university autonomy to create a more costefficient system. However, the funding schemes still differ and much needs to
be done to avoid a scattered system. Attitudes on how to achieve this also still
differ. The defenders of the legal status quo prefer to rely on inter-Cantonal
co-operation, which would not require a change of traditional competencies.
The advocates of constitutional change argue that there is Federal funding for
universities; that the Confederation, too, runs tertiary education institutions;
and that the expanding university of applied sciences sector has to be aligned
with the development of the university sector. Tertiary education institutions
in turn seek to rely on their own capacity for adaptation, renewal and coordination. Interestingly, advocates of all three views refer to the “Bologna
Declaration” as a central rationale and model for adaptation. Cantons and
tertiary education institutions argue that Europeanisation of tertiary
education would entail a harmonisation within the Swiss system. The
Confederation points at the Bologna Declaration to support the argument that
there is a need for clarification and co-ordination in Switzerland if the country
is to participate in the European higher education area.
Besides the question of who should be in charge of co-ordination, there
seem to be different visions regarding the areas for which the draft
amendment provides for joint policy making:
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Institutional autonomy: there are Cantonal and institutional differences with
regard to the degree of autonomy granted to tertiary education institutions.
Is this due solely to the time-lag or to doubts about the future role of the
Cantons when tertiary education institutions become more autonomous
and Confederation influence increases?
●
Access: regional disparities in participation in tertiary education seem to
result not only from differing local accessibility but also from differing views
on “appropriate” participation rates and on how open or closed tertiary
education should be. What will be the implications for a common policy?
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●
Recognition, quality assurance: quality assurance has been defined mainly as
a matter for academia, and the relationship to and tasks of an accreditation
agency are not clear. Is the agency to guarantee a minimum standard of
quality, or is it to be responsible only for those institutions that receive
public (Confederation, Cantonal) funds?
●
What role will the Confederation and the governments of the Cantons play with respect
to improving the information base on tertiary education – a key requirement to
support assessment, improvement and strategic planning activities?
●
There seem to be reservations concerning the relationships between
universities and universities of applied sciences. In the European context,
sectoral differences in tertiary education are becoming less important.
Nevertheless, in countries where two-track systems are firmly rooted in
tradition, there are tendencies to keep the two sectors apart. Switzerland
still seems divided on the issue.
●
The introduction of the draft amendment gives an account of the timeconsuming legal and procedural requirements for its implementation. Less
attention is given to the ways actions and oversight by existing bodies relate
to implementation, possible reorganisation, and future roles. (On the
Confederation level, are two departments retained? What becomes of the
inter-Cantonal bodies such as EDK, SUK, FHK? What changes are
anticipated at Cantonal level?)
●
To whom will the joint Cantonal-Federal co-ordinating bodies report? The
proposed draft amendment seems to reflect a tension between democratic
control and double/triple loyalty and responsibility.
●
Finally, who ensures room for education and research for its own sake? The
Cantons as well as the Confederation follow policies that favour a
functional view of tertiary education and research. Will co-operative
federalism further this tendency?
It will be extremely important that the Confederation and Cantonal
authorities develop a common position on the above-mentioned questions.
Agreement in principle in these areas would be an important basis for
strengthening nationwide co-ordination through the intermediary and
consultative bodies and other means established for this purpose.
9.4. The relationships between government and tertiary education
institutions
In Switzerland, the relationship between government and tertiary
education institutions involves different bodies or arrangements, depending
on the type of institution, government level or agency, and the area of interest.
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Relationships and responsibilities with respect to type of institution are
as follows:
●
The two institutes of technology (ETHZ and EPFL) are federal institutions,
regulated and funded by the Confederation.
●
The ten universities are Cantonal institutions, regulated and funded by their
Cantons with co-funding from the Confederation and from inter-Cantonal
contributions.
●
The seven universities of applied sciences are institutions of one or more
Cantons or of private organisations, regulated and funded by the
Confederation and the Cantons.
Further, the legal capacity of tertiary institutions to interact with
government(s) varies. This means that the degree of institutional autonomy
differs, not only between the different types of institution, but also within one
category of institution:
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The ETHZ/EPFL comprises six institutions (the two schools in Zurich and
Lausanne and four research institutions) and enjoys a high degree of
autonomy that further increased in recent years. In 1999, the first
performance mandate bound to a global budget was conferred by the Swiss
Federal Council to the ETHZ/EPFL Board. When the review team visited
Switzerland the ETHZ/EPFL law was reported to be in the process of revision.
●
Several years ago New Public Management became a leading concept for
institutional management and decision making. Most universities changed
status, from units of Cantonal governmental to independent legal entities.
Management structures differ from one institution to another, as does the
extent of Cantonal supervision. Performance contracts, the central
instrument of NPM, are widely used. However, as the outputs of tertiary
education institutions are complex and not easy to define, performance
contracts differ with regard to detail. Most remain rather vague in many
aspects. One may also speculate whether performance contracts favour
science and technology as the most concrete items such as infrastructure and
equipment, are more important and costly in these fields than in others.
●
The law on universities of applied sciences and a separate bylaw defined
seven regions, each of which subsequently formed one university of
applied sciences. Each university of applied sciences was built by merger
and upgrade of existing vocational schools; most have several campuses.
The universities of applied sciences also integrate institutions of
different Cantons as well as private institutions. This entails very
complex legal and organisational arrangements. The management of the
colleges, too, is inspired by the New Public Management concept, though
the regulatory power of government continues to be stronger than in the
case of universities.
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“Multi-level” governance of Swiss tertiary education institutions is shown
in Table 9.1 Compared with the past, the Confederation’s role has increased.
Table 9.1.
“Multi-level” governance in Swiss tertiary education
Laws, regulations
Funding teaching
Funding research
ETHZ/EPFL
Confederation
Confederation
Confederation
Universities
Canton/Confederation
Canton(s)/Confederation
Confederation/Canton
Colleges
Confederation/Canton
Confederation/Canton
Confederation/Canton
Source: Based on information from DFI, CDIP, CUS and CUAS.
Representatives of the Confederation are concerned about incoherence,
owing to the mix of different signals from the Confederation and the Cantons.
Whereas the Confederation allocates a fixed budget in accordance with
student numbers, the funding of the Cantons is based on tradition and on
rather vague indicators. Consequently, so it is said, costs to students remain
opaque and vary between institutions, and the latter are not encouraged to
become more efficient and competitive.
Representatives of the Cantons, on the other hand, maintain that
universities are overwhelmingly funded by the Cantons where the university
is located and by other Cantons via the Inter-Cantonal Convention. Cantonal
politicians regard inter-Cantonal co-operation a sufficiently effective way for
co-ordinating tertiary education policy and provisions. University autonomy is
highly valued and thought to correspond with the Swiss political culture,
which places much power on the smallest unit and favours bottom-up
processes. Universities are able and willing to co-operate and create networks
if necessary. Where specific problems arise, co-ordinated or targeted policies
may be used to address them and new financing approaches are being
explored to address difficulties and inequalities resulting from differences
among Cantons in scholarship schemes.
Universities did not report tensions, either with the Cantons or with the
Confederation. Representatives of the universities are aware that these
establishments enjoy a high degree of autonomy. The reinforcement and
balancing of distinct and different public funding streams may even strengthen
that autonomy. Confederation funding does not serve as a direct driver for
expansion, at least insofar as universities view the possibility of securing a
larger share of the fixed budget as an incentive to boost enrolment. On the
contrary, university representatives stated that neither the Confederation nor
the Cantonal authorities are in favour of raising student numbers and, for their
part, some within the universities favour measures to stabilise or even diminish
student numbers (e.g. through quota setting). It is rather the economy and the
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forces of demand that create pressure for increases in student numbers. New
public management, defined by a university representative as “a working
together of partners where one partner has the power, and the other one
knowledge”, is fairly well accepted by universities.
An elite concept of tertiary education, the tradition of a two-track
education system and an emphasis on scientific research frame the
relationship between governments and tertiary education institutions.
Although funds per student have decreased, the economic pressure on
tertiary education institutions is not so great as to create tensions and
stimulate further change.
As both Cantons and institutions undertake initiatives in response to the
incentives and Confederation and inter-Cantonal arrangements, the OECD
review team asks where and how available instruments might be
strengthened to steer and accelerate the pace of change. The CUS or some
similar entity could take on a larger role as a body that brings together all
interested parties to develop, monitor and refine a vision for tertiary
education. Such a body could undertake to develop and advance a national
view of what is needed, balancing different perspectives and interests, in
response to questions such as the weight to be applied to access, to quality,
and to economic and social development aims. Its composition would take in
universities, the universities of applied sciences and other tertiary education
institutions, but also engage teaching and research entities that relate to
them, e.g. secondary education and adult education and training, research
lodged in the private sector, and appropriate international entities. It would
have its own capacity for policy analysis, separate from that available to
government at Confederation and Cantonal levels or to the different tertiary
education sectors (respectively, Swiss University Rector’s Conference, CRUS,
and Conference of the Universities of Applied Sciences, CUAS). Such a body
could stimulate engagement from all constituent interests in a way that the
present CUS does not (and previous CUS did not), without taking on more
specific policy responsibilities or institutional interests. The review team is
suggesting not just a more active CUS, but a body that has enlarged
representation and a different, enlarged role. Similar bodies have been used to
good effect in other OECD countries, particularly as substantial reform,
increased autonomy and greater involvement of third-party stakeholders have
been negotiated (for example in Flanders, Sweden and Australia).
9.5. Governance within higher education institutions
Although they are now independent legal entities with increased
responsibilities, Swiss tertiary education institutions differ with regard to the
autonomy they enjoy and apply to aspects of internal organisation and
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governance. The alignment of internal structures within tertiary education
institutions to requirements from new autonomy and accountability is a
major challenge for policy at several levels.
The review team observed more or less common developments in
internal structures and procedures. All institutions now have boards
comprised of external members, in many cases presided by the relevant
minister, that serve as links to society and the economy. All institutions have
internal bodies (faculty senates or councils) that take academic decisions.
Rectors are responsible for day-to-day management.
In the second half of the 1990s New Public Management became the
dominant concept for tertiary education governance in Switzerland. Under
NPM, strategic planning and operating management are separated, with
responsibilities for planning lodged with the authorities concerned and
responsibilities for management devolved to the institutions. The strategic
and operating levels conclude “contracts” (performance mandates) that define
outputs in an assessable way.
Performance mandates are issued to Swiss universities generally, although
they differ in aim and features. While all authorities rely on performance
mandates to stimulate institutional response and responsibility (as well as
strategic planning at government level), others, notably the Confederation and
Basel Canton, go further and link them more tightly to budgets. Performance
mandates are not yet widely used for the universities of applied sciences,
although they have been introduced recently in Tessin, Zurich, Argovie and
Soleure. Some authorities refer to legal mandates as performance mandates
(e.g. the University of Applied Sciences Zurich); for some other colleges,
performance mandates similar to those found in universities have been
developed (e.g. University of Applied Sciences Zentralschweiz).
The parties that conclude a performance mandate are in most cases the
government and external representatives (e.g. the ETHZ/EPFL Board and the
boards of the individual universities and universities of applied sciences). (In
exceptions such as that of Lausanne, the partners are the government and the
rector.) External representatives on the board come from the economy, from
noted scientists and scholars, and the government. The boards are said to
form part of the university and to be the operative body, whereas the
government is the central level responsible for strategy. But is that so? It seems
that by creating a body with external experts the governments increased their
expertise for strategic planning. To a greater or lesser degree, the planning
boards act on proposals of the president or internal collegiate committees of
the university. In principle, therefore, the board does its planning and
supervising in ways similar to that of the government.
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Not surprisingly, universities complain that the boards diminish their
autonomy. As the contract (performance mandate) is made between the
government and its agency for strategic planning, one may also question the
extent of separation of the strategic and operating levels as envisaged under
NPM. We observed that reconsideration is already under way. For example, we
heard of proposals to have professors or other representatives of the academic
staff of the higher education institutions in the ETHZ/EPFL board.
A further question is whether and to what extent universities generate
outputs that can be transparently and easily set out in the contracts. Those
responsible for drawing up performance mandates recognise the limitations
in this respect. For example, the performance mandate drawn up by the Swiss
Federal Government with the ETHZ/EPFL Board refers to the complexity of the
ETHZ/EPFL domain with regard to its organisation and activities, and states
that the effectiveness of a performance mandate depends to a great extent on
whether there is consensus between the contracting partners. To date,
performance mandates do not fully take into account outputs that are
complex, long term and interrelated. The mandates set out situations, tasks
and active policy of internationalisation, including financial support for
exchanges. Or, they report on ongoing activities in which the university is
engaged (for example, in the ETHZ/EPFL domain, the development of quality
assurance with the IDEA League, development of a strategy with regard to the
introduction of bachelor’s degrees, and the gradual introduction of a credit
system). Elements in the contract that are easy to assess concern
infrastructure or “inputs”; in some cases, the elements refer to procedural
regulations. The limitations and issues are not unique to contracts established
in Switzerland; the implicit and explicit understandings embedded within the
contracting process feature also in Finland and France, among other countries.
The performance mandates of those institutions where NPM was first
applied date back only to 1999, and so the arrangements for and effects of
changes in internal management and governance are not yet fully in view.
Nonetheless, the review team has speculated on what implications and issues
might arise in order to encourage further reflection on aspects of internal
governance and management.
NPM and the idea of clear-cut responsibilities strengthen the role of the rector
or president (in the case of ETHZ/EPFL, for example) while collegiate decision
making, generally seen as a characteristic of university management, decreases.
However, thus far a full exercising of the possible scope of action by the rectors has
not been fully realised. It may be that the rector’s competence is limited by the
very nature of the university as an “expert system” in which businesslike
management methods are applied only with caution and at the margins.
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The introduction of NPM was expected to lead to an internal allocation of
resources according to identified and priority outputs. The reallocations
eventually would give rise to radical structural changes. As of this writing,
substantial internal reallocations are not in evidence. Generally, it is thought
that faculties need time to learn about, comply with and respond to the new
management culture. In the ETHZ/EPFL, the stronger role of the president was
believed to have permitted a more rapid response on various matters,
e.g. recruitment of professors.
The decisions required to advance the university of applied sciences
reform, to establish new universities or to marshal resources effectively in
response to national research priorities are complex, and senior managers of
many of the institutions visited described clearly the aims and difficulties in
taking those decisions.
The OECD reviewers appreciate that the reforms and expectations of NPM
cut across traditional and/or existing governance arrangements. New
methods and bases for decision making have been no easier to implement in
Switzerland than in other OECD countries that have moved in this direction,
and in this respect the impression was that there is less “real” exercised
autonomy than meets the eye. In any case, the vision and effectiveness of
leadership varies among institutions. In some institutions the OECD reviewers
visited, strong and directed strategic thinking in senior management was
impressive. In other cases, differences arise either because leaders lacked the
capacities to establish and utilise an effective and appropriate framework for
decision making, or because the internal dynamics of institutions bound by
tradition and limited scope for change precluded more dramatic action and
initiative on the part of senior management. In this respect, the OECD
examiners see the drive for and support of new networking and partnership
arrangements as a means to support and strengthen the position of senior
institutional managers.
Other measures are in view, and the OECD reviewers believe that the
direction they reflect is the right one. In a complex, dynamic environment
with many and varied demands and expectations, decisions on ways to
manage and accommodate those demands and expectations are best taken at
the level of the institution. The OECD reviewers noted two areas where further
efforts might strengthen leadership and management in the institution.
First, those in senior leadership positions, as well as those with
responsibilities as heads of line departments need new kinds of information
to improve decision making, such as the levels and types of resources, the
output of those resources, and their possible consequences for individuals,
units and the institution. The OECD review team had the impression that this
kind of information was not readily or uniformly available.
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Second, as already mentioned, senior management may have insufficient
expertise to take decisions. Confederation or Cantonal governments, perhaps
through the CUS or through bodies that bring together the heads of
institutions, might provide means to support the development of the needed
capacities. The French experience may be instructive in this regard. The Comité
Nationale d’Évaluation, the Observatoire des Coûts, and the French contracting
policy all required senior managers to assemble information in ways
meaningful for institution-level evaluation, resource allocation, and project
design and implementation. So, in addition to generating reports, information
and projects addressing national targets, the initiatives helped the senior
managers acquire knowledge about their own institutions and skills in
applying that knowledge. Capacity building also was fostered through the use
of external Conseillers d’Établissement assigned to advise university presidents
in the development of contracts, and an Agence de Modernisation through which
managers from interested universities could come together to jointly develop,
e. g . re c o rd - k e ep i n g m e t h o d s a n d s h a re e x p e r i e n c e s i n h a n d l i n g
administrative and management tasks. Cross-border opportunities for
sharing are presently available through the OECD’s IMHE programme and, in
the European Union, HUMANE (Heads of University Management and
Administration Network in Europe).
If potential gains from greater autonomy are to be realised, senior
managers and management teams must be encouraged to take the initiative
and be afforded some margin of “risk” in funding and evaluation to do so. That
is, the risk of failure should be weighed against the potential gains from
initiative, and appropriate levels of risk should be shared across all levels of
the system. This “risk margin” may be one of the greatest departures from
prior administrative practices, and thus one of the most important signals of
a shift in the locus of decision making and initiative as well as responsibility.
9.6. The private sector and the role of market-based incentives
Although private establishments and partnerships with private entities
are not new to Swiss tertiary education, the OECD review team has already
noted in Chapter 7 of this report that private sector involvement and marketbased competition remain limited. Switzerland hosts private tertiary
education institutions of international standing, such as the École Hôtelière de
Lausanne (EHL) and the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland.
Cross-border enrolment and provision already have the character of quasiprivate stimuli within the public system. It is useful to note here that the
regional authorities have accepted EHL to be a multi-site college. Eligible
students enrol with public funding, although the institution secures a
substantial share of its revenue from student fees, sales of services including
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restaurants open to the public and lodging for students, and contributions
from the hospitality industry.
This one example raises the question of whether private initiative,
funding and competition could be a growth point for stimulation and
innovation in the system, advancing alongside proactive management of
tertiary education institutions. Competition as such would be new within the
system. When the review team raised questions about the scope for private
initiative and private funding, some of those it encountered expressed
reservations on the grounds that resources need to be marshalled and
targeted effectively rather than diffused in a small tertiary education system.
The review team thinks, however, that there are several ways in which private
sector funding and competition could be put to effective use. In the first place,
links with the private sector can serve as a source of stimulus and innovation
that can be exploited through different avenues:
●
Building up continuing professional education alongside professional
degree coursework (an example is given by Open Education in Denmark),
and in so doing opening up the existing institutions and staff to a field of
growing importance (lifelong learning).
●
Expanding the contributions of highly qualified experts in the private sector
to teaching and research, a feature in the development of the universities of
applied sciences.
●
Exploiting innovative programmes in a wide range of fields to attract highly
qualified students and staff on a global, not just European, basis.
●
Extending the development of IT-based instructional and access platforms
to deliver complete degree programmes across Cantonal, national and
continental boundaries.
A related but separate question is the extent to which the position and
influence of the market and market forces could be strengthened and thus
stimulate reform and innovation. These forces remain limited thus far, in
part because of features that weaken the incentives confronting students
and institutions.
For students, market forces have little effect because there are limited
options within language communities in the national system; limited
information for student decision making on the range and quality of
programmes; and a high cost for exercising student choice, particularly when
it comes to switching paths or enrolling in an institution outside of the home
Canton or near region (with some exceptions). Notably, market forces may
well gain weight as the scope for student choice is likely to increase with the
further development of the universities of applied sciences, and the cost of
exercising choice will decline with the development of a new credit system
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(perhaps alongside a bachelor’s degree) and Confederation support for crossCanton mobility.
The existing structure of incentives does encourag e some
responsiveness, both on the part of “sending” Cantons (who now must pay for
those students who attend tertiary education institutions in other Cantons)
and “host” Cantons (who seek to secure those resources). The arrangements
may have, paradoxically, fostered a greater responsiveness to local aspirations
and demand through either the establishment of new universities or the
sitting of principal campuses as each university of applied sciences
consolidates through formal or implicit regional cross-Canton partnerships.
Responsiveness and innovation remain limited, however, by a lack of
information and capacity for programme development within institutions and
the system as a whole and by conditions (such as narrow quality assurance
and accreditation criteria) that do not consider particularly innovative types of
programme or institutions.
In the end, the OECD reviewers were struck by what appeared to be an
uncertain balance between a directed set of priorities through co-ordinated
efforts and increased autonomy afforded through New Public Management in
institutions driven in response to market-based incentives. Other countries
have relied on or strengthened market forces, along with other measures, to
drive change, as may be seen in different ways in the United States, New
Zealand, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Japan and
Korea. The need in all these countries is to put in place means of steering a
varied, complex set of autonomous institutions and partnerships, ushering in
change as rapidly as possible, and monitoring progress to better inform policy
adaptations and the decisions of the institutional managers, students and
third parties. That challenge is no less important in Switzerland.
The OECD review team recommends:
●
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Further strengthening of nationwide co-ordination, to better marshal and
channel support and foster productive and efficient co-operation across
institutions and cross-nationally in favour of the broad aims agreed for the
tertiary education system as a whole. Consideration should be given to a
merger under one ministry of existing tertiary education functions at
Confederation level, and a possible strengthening of Confederation powers
in areas such as the oversight of incentives to foster institutional profiles,
accreditation and evaluation activities, and development and maintenance
of the information base for decision making (discussed below). Further, a
new entity of the CUS should take on an independent role as the provider of
policy analyses, policy advice and programme and capacity development
activities for the whole of tertiary education. Drawing from the expertise
and experience within tertiary education programmes and institutions but
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also seeking input from industry and other third parties, a newly reconstituted
CUS would be expected to provide forward-looking recommendations for the
evolution of the system to meet the needs of the “knowledge society”. Such
system-wide co-ordination may limit in part the benefits anticipated from
decentralised decision making, programme- and institution-level responses to
competition, respect for diverse cultures and the accepted and valued
importance of popular votes on all matters, including those concerning tertiary
education. The measures proposed here allow ample margins with regard to all
of these concerns, and indeed may well better inform and support the effective
exercise of decision making in these settings.
●
Fostering the margin for decision making and the capacities for decision making at
senior management level, in universities and particularly the universities of applied
sciences. Experience so far suggests that autonomy and initiative are
exercised less than is commonly believed. The OECD examiners
recommend co-ordination and strengthened management capacities at
institution level, encouraged and promoted through policies that require
institutional plans and establish the leading role of senior managers in
developing evaluation and information management systems and in
negotiating, securing and receiving public funds. Further consideration
should be given to the composition and possible roles of the boards, a
sharpening of the outputs identified in performance mandates, and the
generation of more information to support decision making at the
institutional level. For changes in the overall steering of the tertiary
education system to have their intended effects, all those taking decisions
must have the knowledge and abilities to take advantage of the new
arrangements. Measures to strengthen professional management skills and
capacities in institutions and ministries should be considered, including
increases in qualified staff specialised in preparing and implementing
policy and management decisions. Finally, to encourage initiative at a time
when performance mandates and private source funding are expected to
define outputs, consideration should be given to some type of “risk” margin
in funding and performance appraisal. Such a margin would encourage
new, even exploratory initiatives that may fail, in areas such as student
recruitment; programme content, delivery or qualification; cross-level,
cross-sector or industry partnerships; and staffing arrangements. All of
these specific recommendations fall broadly within the framework for New
Public Management. NPM remains relatively new to tertiary education in
Switzerland, and is being resolved mostly through trial and error in areas
such as the powers of the boards versus those of the senior management,
the relationships between management and those in academia, and the
roles played by formula-based incentives, contracts or human resource
management. A more systematic account of the experiences should be
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undertaken, with support from public authorities and possibly led by a
reconstituted CUS, to provide a basis for possible needed alternatives and
adaptations to framework conditions for NPM.
●
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Widening the scope to draw in private sector initiative. There is greater potential
to exploit private initiative with a “public”-oriented system, building on
measures already in place such as incentives within performance
mandates, enrolment-driven funding and options for studies and research
that lie outside Swiss borders. Private funding and provision should be used
to strengthen incentives and heighten competition for existing institutions,
in order to stimulate attention to overlooked potential student pools such
as lifelong learners, and to expand resources and allow for an even wider
diversity in programme options.
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Reviews of National Policies for Education
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
© OECD 2003
PART II
Chapter 10
Information for Decision Making: The Current
Situation and Needed Improvements
This chapter reviews the strengths and weaknesses of the
knowledge base that supports policy formulation for the tertiary
sector. Greater efforts are needed to meet the information needs of
government, learners and other stakeholders. The introduction of
new management techniques would, in particular, impose new
demands on the information system. Research on tertiary
education, while of high quality, is sporadic and uncoordinated and
needs a stable foundation.
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10.1. The need for information
In Switzerland as elsewhere in the OECD area, tertiary education
statistics are collected routinely on institutions, students, teachers, teaching
and learning, degree and graduate careers, research funding, etc. The
collected data provide baseline information for the public at large; they also
help to inform choices among strategies and options available to governments
and agencies at Confederation and Canton levels, tertiary education
institutions (and programmes), potential and current students, and their
prospective employers. As helpful as this information may be, the tertiary
education reforms under way have raised new questions and engaged more
and different actors. The new directions place a heavier and more varied set of
burdens on data collection processes and data uses, and highlight gaps in
basic information that until now have not figured prominently in policy
development or stakeholder decisions. Switzerland shares with other OECD
countries a patchwork of data-gathering and development activities in
education, with uneven and inconsistent coverage and capacity. The existing
“patchwork” combines strengths with gaps, and so falls short of a system of
information development and use that harnesses the capacities and work of
the range of stakeholders in providing a timely, accurate and useful body of
information for improved decision making.
The OECD reviewers are convinced that most key actors concerned with
tertiary education policy, provision and results value and increasingly draw on
available statistics, indicators and surveys. Key data and selected research
findings were presented in the course of the review mission, and there is a
recognised if unstated understanding that evaluation and strategy
development will require data and information assembled on a systematic,
coherent basis. Indeed, the strong interest to have access to more detailed
information; the gaps recognised within otherwise solid and useful data and
research; and a feeling in some quarters that improvements are needed may
now combine to create incentive to dramatically revamp present approaches
to data collection in the field. In this respect, Switzerland might well become
a model for other countries in the area of systematic information and research
on tertiary education.
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The reasons for mounting a substantial improvement of information
gathering and research derive from the current policy drive within the
distinctive Swiss context:
●
The decentralised nature of governance in Switzerland makes it more
difficult to undertake system-wide national statistics gathering and surveys
in areas now highly relevant for policy, e.g. access and success on a tertiarywide basis (encompassing universities, universities of applied sciences and
other tertiary-level programmes and institutions) and inter-Canton
mobility. In the light of greater co-ordination between the Confederation
and the Cantons, between government agencies and education and
research institutions, and between the educational system and the public,
other areas could be identified where information collected systematically
on a system-wide, national basis would be helpful.
●
The restructuring and expansion of the tertiary education system calls for
reconception and extension of the existing statistic and survey information
base. A good opportunity thus is afforded for reconsidering established
traditions of data collection concerned with tertiary education.
●
At the time when co-ordination activities and strategic action are
increasing at national level, co-ordination in and links among various data
gathering projects and surveys covering aspects of tertiary education scale,
diversity, activities and performance show many gaps. For example,
statistics on students and teaching do not match well with those covering
research; data on research funding are not easily compared to resource
utilisation in tertiary education institutions and the sector as a whole;
vocational education data do not align with tertiary education statistics.
The underlying question is one of coherence, and a view of education,
training, knowledge creation, dissemination and use that extends beyond
programme, institutional or sector boundaries.
●
New requirements for evaluation and public accountability call for
additional, different, and more timely information. The available data cover
aspects of infrastructure, resources, and to a lesser extent process and output
(e.g. participation, graduates). Data collection and in-depth surveys need to
focus on outputs and outcomes at programme, institution and system levels.
●
As tertiary education institutions become more strategic and as the reporting
needs (for purposes of resource allocation, evaluation, accreditation, etc.)
have increased substantially in recent years, the institution can no longer
afford to collect information separately for each single purpose. They are
challenged to bring together institution-level information gathering, to
consider seriously the advantages and disadvantages of co-ordinating
national information gathering at institution level.
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●
In addition to statistical reporting and data gathering for evaluation
purposes, focused analyses and research complete the potential
information base for decision making. As developed further below, tertiary
education research has remained too limited in scale and scope, and thus a
target for support and development.
Experiences in the course of the review have prompted the OECD team to
pay closer attention to issues of statistics, information and higher education
research. These were not initially on the agenda, for the following reasons.
First, research findings covering a broad range of issues were made available
as annexes to the preliminary draft of the Swiss background report but were
subsequently excluded from the final background report, where official
statistics with narrower coverage serve as the main empirical base. Moreover,
the background report contains relatively little statistical information on
tertiary education other than for universities. The universities of applied
sciences are so new as to preclude performance data attributable to the new
set of merged institutions. However, more information pertaining to preexisting institutions and programmes eventually merged into the colleges
might have been introduced. Further, different actors displayed different
levels of familiarity with and understanding of basic and more complex
patterns, allocations and trends. For example, the OECD review team was
confronted with a broad range of guesses about the entry rates to tertiary
education and about graduation rates. Finally, statistical data on enrolment,
research and higher education funding presented in the course of the visit
revealed the extent to which co-ordination might help deepen and strengthen
the information base made available to the stakeholders.
10.2. The current state of statistical and evaluation-related
information gathering
The Federal Office of Statistics, located in Neuchâtel, is generally viewed
as the key agency in charge of collecting information on tertiary education.
The Office collects and disseminates basic data on the number of institutions,
teachers, students, etc., and has adapted and augmented its data gathering
activities in response to new demands. For example, it accommodates the
renewed interest in indicators, specifically developing ways to present data
that enable better assessments of system performance. It also relies partly on
voluntary surveys of individuals or organisations, e.g. students, graduates,
teachers and employers.
The Office has public standing and credibility, providing interpretations
of collected and assembled data in ways that are useful, neutral, convincing
and careful with regard to limitations. Commissions of various types review
data available for specific purposes and recommend improvements as needed;
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in this way, there seems to be ample opportunity for the various stakeholders
to have input into the activities of the Office.
Notwithstanding these manifest strengths, the OECD review team came
to perceive gaps and areas for improvement. Among others, the following
came to our attention:
●
The system of co-ordination with respect to data collection by the Federal
Office of Statistics is so complex that it remains difficult to gain a
comprehensive view of the underlying concepts guiding the gathering, the
degree of completeness and consistency, and the utility of the data.
●
New data collection is limited by constraints on relevant budgets.
●
The indicator approach is embraced, but with little obvious effort to revamp
or extend existing data collection activities to support such an approach.
The system of data collection strongly reflects the interests of government
agencies and the orientation of statistical experts. Data are not yet made
available, if collected, in ways that are most useful for decision making by
senior managers at institutions of tertiary education.
As the OECD experts have noted, there is no agreement on how growing
accountability pressures and increasing activities of quality assessment
(evaluation systems within the individual institutions of tertiary education,
national evaluation requirements in the non-university sector, accreditation,
etc.) should figure in an overall information system. At present, institutions of
higher education often undertake separate data collection activities, at great
cost in terms of workload and time constraints relative to resources available
at institution level and of uncertain quality. At the same time, the decision
makers find that statistics collected at the national level are less suitable for
purposes of institutional evaluation. Although the universities welcome and
assert the autonomy to choose appropriate evaluation approaches, and
therefore are not in favour of a close realignment of national and institutional
data gathering, most opt for a range of approaches and could benefit from
closer co-operation in and, in some cases, alignment of efforts. Such cooperation as, in principle, agreed upon by the university rectors could be
directed at assessing possible revisions of national statistics in order to make
them more useful for evaluation purposes; establishing common elements of
data collection for individual tertiary education institutions, both to increase
data quality and to permit comparisons of scale, resource use and
performance; and exploring jointly ways to strengthen data gathering and
“institutional research” within tertiary education institutions.
There are various efforts under way in Switzerland to co-ordinate the
collection of information related to the various assessment and evaluation
exercises. The new organ for accreditation and quality assurance has the task
of elaborating recommendations for the preparation activities, but this is
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likely to cover only some parts of the various assessment activities. The
rectors’ conferences have taken steps as well in this respect. The OECD
reviewers noted that until now these activities were cautious and not
comprehensive. Certainly those universities that have substantial evaluation
activities in place could take the lead in bringing together all interested
parties, and the experiences of similar efforts in France and Germany (among
other countries) could be consulted for possible pointers to promising (and not
so promising) directions.
10.3. Higher education research
The OECD review team had the opportunity to review selected research
on specific issues of tertiary education. The studies and reports demonstrated
solid theoretical grounding, appropriate methodologies, relevant findings, and
clarity and balance in their interpretation and conclusions. A number of such
studies are identified in the draft version of the Swiss background report. Yet
on the whole, tertiary education remains a marginal area for research. Isolated
if impressive studies do not add up to a comprehensive research effort,
engaging a group of scholars more or less continuously. The Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education, located in Aarau, stimulates
research, including on tertiary education. But the Centre does not have its own
research capacities nor substantial means to support research. It was never
designed to have a monopoly on tertiary education research.
The OECD review team sees more substantial research on tertiary
education as a necessary complement to the growing volume of statistics,
indicators and growth in information collected to meet demands for
accountability and evaluation. Such research would be analytical and forwardlooking, and less occupied with day-to-day policy matters that are, in any
event, the subject of evaluations of different types. Research needs to go
beyond “mapping” of the type provided through statistics and identify
problems, search for explanations, and isolate factors that contribute to
success or failure of concepts applied to tertiary education.
A deliberate focus on tertiary education research, broadly conceived,
would respond to concerns about weaknesses in the humanities and social
sciences. In this connection, such research could draw on these fields while
yielding findings and conclusions relevant for the sciences and engineering.
Tertiary education research can be both theoretically demanding and
practically relevant. The OECD review team thus considers this research an
appropriate priority area in Swiss research promoting social sciences and
humanities. The Swiss National Fund, for example, could promote this area as
a research pole, thereby securing a stable environment for the establishment
and consolidation of tertiary education research in the country. As some
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universities, e.g. Geneva and Zurich, appeared already to be interested, such
support would permit an exploitation of those interests in ways that harness
critical analysis for the development and realisation of proactive policies and
dynamic, effective, innovative and responsive institutions.
10.4. New ways of communication
From that perspective, tertiary education research could contribute to a
broadening of strategic visions and evaluation approaches. For example, the
research project could be guided by overarching questions – the compatibility
of the strong research emphasis of Swiss universities with improvement in
teaching, changes of the curricular logic through the introduction of ECTS and
short-degree programmes; the impact of the university of applied sciences
upgrading on the competencies of students. A better balance between, on the
one hand, basic statistical and operational information and, on the other,
research on tertiary education that takes full account of the views and motives
of the actors, the causes of prevailing problems and the impact of reforms,
certainly could enrich the reflection of key actors in Switzerland on the
current state and the future options.
As in other countries, the links between systematic information gathering
in tertiary education and tertiary education policy are problematic. For example,
statistics and research often do not meet policy needs. Data and research
findings might not be well understood by all actors. Research findings and
statistics are often ignored if they do not match the actors’ expectations. Actors
might be accustomed to the view that most of the information needed as a basis
for decision making is not available anyway. It is obvious, therefore, that an
extension of systematic information as such is by no means a guarantee for
more informed policy options, and it is obvious as well that not all actors are
willing to invest substantially in the improvement of the systematic knowledge
base. In various countries, the lack of communication, understanding and trust
has led to more or less separate information gathering systems for different
government agencies, higher education administrators, and a separate branch
of academically based higher education research. Although these separate
systems have specific functions in some respects, they also often produce
superfluous overlaps, and contradictory information, and reinforce
communication barriers unhelpful to all involved.
The increasing concern about accountability, efficient use of resources
and quality improvement will only lead to more cogent strategic action if the
relationships between the production of systematic information and policy
improve in tertiary education. A new culture of strategic information
gathering, dissemination, information-based reasoning and policy has to
emerge. A country such as Switzerland, which is relatively small and strongly
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consensus-oriented, where concepts of strategic action within higher
education have quickly spread in recent years and where databases clearly
lagged behind needs in the past, might be in the position to take a leap
forward in this respect.
The OECD review team recommends:
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●
Extending the statistics and surveys collected by the Federal Statistical Office.
●
Widening and exploiting other activities that generate data relevant to the
functioning and perform ance of the tertiary educat ion syst em
(e.g. institution-level evaluations).
●
Co-ordinating, where appropriate and useful, the regular reporting and assembly of
data from different sources to provide a broader and more timely information
base for the system as a whole as well as for individual institutions and
programmes.
●
Strengthening the capacity for analytically and theoretically sound research
on key current issues and prospective developments and options, in the
first instance through targeted research support. An institute for tertiary
education research could be established to fill this need, its creation made
possible by identifying tertiary education and research as a priority for
regular research funding.
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Reviews of National Policies for Education
Tertiary Education in Switzerland
© OECD 2003
PART II
Chapter 11
Conclusions and Recommendations
This chapter brings together and summarises the observations and
recommendations developed by the OECD examiners in Chapters 7
through 10.
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11.1. Introduction
Tertiary education was reformed later in Switzerland than in other OECD
countries. Paradoxically, the strength and innovativeness of university-based
research in the sciences and engineering and the relative success of education
and training (not least the vocational training system) in enabling nearly all
young adults to acquire below tertiary-level qualifications for entry into the
labour market provided little basis for contemplating substantial change. And,
without current or anticipated shocks to the society or economy or to the
education and training system, the Swiss were reluctant to undertake reforms
in view of the efforts needed to accommodate local and sub-national views
and interests, seek compromise, and build consensus. Thus, entry rates into
tertiary-level education remained low well into the 1980s; the vocational
training system was maintained largely at the same level and in the same
form into the 1990s; and the underlying infrastructure – programme and
research profiles and institutional structures, access qualifications, routes and
permeability, modes of steering and administration – underwent very modest
change as the millennium neared.
That picture has now changed. Swiss tertiary education is undergoing
substantial reform. The causes, as we have seen, are several. They include rising
individual and social demand for tertiary-level education, partly fuelled by actual,
perceived or anticipated changes in the skills and competence profiles demanded
on the labour market; the gathering force of knowledge as a key driver in
economic activity and performance and as a pervasive influence in everyday life;
shifts in the scale, nature and value of research, broadly defined, that call for new
approaches and a new balancing of knowledge creation and dissemination and
economic and social relevance; and a European “dynamic” in which Switzerland
as a country and Swiss tertiary education institutions, teachers, researchers and
students are finding their places. These developments have combined to
motivate policies to shape teaching, research and outreach activities and to
encourage and enable responsiveness. Tertiary-level enrolment rates in 2002 are
twice those of the 1980s. Parts of the advanced-level vocational training system
now operate as universities of applied sciences. Steering became more strategic
with the introduction of New Public Management, a growing weight for market
forces, and strong efforts to increase nationwide co-ordination of tertiary
education. These changes are to be reinforced in a new law to take effect over the
four-year period ending in 2007.
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The reforms now being advanced seek to foster the development of
capacities within the tertiary education system to cope with challenges
arising from the “knowledge economy” and “knowledge society”, as well as
from growing global interdependence in economic and social activities.
Policies to be implemented in 2003 have as their aim to address past problems
and needs arising from the consolidation of initial reforms, including the
responses within tertiary education to enrolment growth and to the
establishment of universities of applied sciences. Current and prospective
reforms are built around a proactive national strategy that seeks to boost highquality research in universities and institutes of technology, especially in
science and technology fields.
Reforms under way necessarily reflect the dynamic, features,
circumstances and constraints of the Swiss setting. They share with other
OECD countries’ reform experiences both successes and weaknesses. The
weaknesses include, inter alia, inconsistencies and incomplete measures,
unevenness in reach, and unanticipated consequences arising from the
resistance of stakeholders and structures to change. Both the content and
direction of the Swiss reforms and the reform experience thus far make this a
particularly useful moment for wider dialogue and exchange with officials
and experts from other OECD countries. To focus that discussion on issues
where the exchange on policy aims and approaches, problems, performance,
achievements and outcomes will be most useful and illuminating, the OECD
reviewers have grouped key questions and recommendations under the four
broad themes identified in the previous chapters.
11.2. Scale and scope of tertiary education
Rates of tertiary education entry and graduation no longer lag behind
those of other OECD countries. Although still below the OECD averages, these
rates continue to grow, and the forces at play suggest that the demand for
access to and completion of some form of tertiary-level education will
increase further. At the same time, even as long-standing gender inequities
have begun to yield to sustained policy attention, differences in participation
and success by socioeconomic background persist. These differences may be
explained partly by the particular situation of children of non-Swiss parents.
Even those young adults who have followed schooling entirely in Switzerland
are one-third as likely to have acquired academic or vocational Matura and so
are less likely to have rights of access to tertiary education. Entry rates to
Swiss tertiary education also differ markedly according to the Canton of
origin, partly owing to differences of language, education and training
traditions and the sectors and nature of economic activity. Confederation and
Cantonal authorities are aware of these differences, and there is a renewed
belief that changing economic imperatives require higher rates of tertiary
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education participation and completion from all groups, those who have been
under-represented above all. Adults, particularly those without tertiary-level
qualifications, should figure prominently in this view.
The steps taken to upgrade some parts of higher vocational programmes,
including the merger of a large number of schools into the seven regional
universities of applied sciences, represent a substantial reform that already
responds in part to the wider range of interests within the larger pool of young
adults now wishing to pursue tertiary-level studies. So, too, does the emergence
of three major study lines in the first years of tertiary education: bachelor’s
degree programmes at university-level institutions, with a largely academic
focus; first degrees in the universities of applied sciences, with a strong
emphasis on occupational practice; and other tertiary-level programmes at
present not considered to be part of “higher education” in Switzerland.
The changes combine to diversify programmes and study options at the
tertiary level, and so redefine the provision coming in for policy attention. A
set of recommendations, if followed, could promote further advance in this
direction, through orientations and arrangements that allow students to
widen their choices and facilitate their passage through studies at this level.
Such a direction raises questions about the extent to which study programmes
and institutional profiles are sufficiently diverse, both within and between the
college and university sectors, and how far individual institutions – each
university, each college – reflect the nature of and changes in their roles. A
further question is the extent to which study options offered by the
universities and the universities of applied sciences are viewed by young
adults as equally attractive, i.e. not as “second choice” options but as real
alternatives. Policies could be conceived even more broadly, to encompass the
full range of tertiary education and all routes of access to and pathways within
this stage. In particular, the OECD review team recommends:
●
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Greater permeability in access routes and qualifications, beyond the existing
recognition of the different Matura. Permeability of access routes is best
realised if changes in pathways do not require undue prolongation of
studies, if conditions for changing from one path to another are
transparent, and if institutions adopt and follow general rules concerning
such changes (rather than handling them on a case-by-case basis). Changes
in access routes and educational pathways should not be isolated
exceptions, but rather sufficiently pursued to indicate responsiveness to
varied student needs and backgrounds. The academic and vocational
Matura should maintain their distinctive emphases. However, first year
studies in the universities should be made more flexible, providing support
for students entering with vocational Matura and other non-conventional
access qualifications and allowing for (supporting) reorientation with no
loss of time to degree for those wishing to change fields. The colleges
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should afford similar flexibility. The one-year training requirement for
those holding academic Matura who seek to enter the colleges should be
reconsidered, in favour of either revised curricula leading to the academic
and vocational Matura or further adaptations in first year studies in the
universities of applied sciences, or both.
●
Strengthened efforts to promote the participation of young adults from underrepresented groups and Cantons, including but not limited to adaptations to
support learning in secondary schools, greater permeability and flexibility
in access routes and pathways, and improved guidance and counselling
services emphasising a tertiary-wide and lifelong view.
●
Upgrading and integration of teacher training and health education (among other
parts of higher vocational training) in the universities of applied sciences, to
realise the synergies from locating a broader range of fields within the
universities of applied sciences.
●
Development of the bachelor’s degree as a distinct qualification in both the
universities and the universities of applied sciences. The bachelor’s degree,
whether in the universities of applied sciences or universities, should be
conceived in relation to present and likely future workplace demands and
in anticipation of a return to learning, either for a long first degree or for
professional development. While those acquiring bachelor’s degrees in
universities are more likely to progress immediately to master’s degree
programmes, these bachelor’s degrees should also serve as preparation for
entry into employment. The new bachelor programmes should be
developed and promoted, through policies and tertiary education/industry
partnerships, in ways that help to establish the degree’s position and
prevent it from becoming either a terminal, dead-end qualification for
employment or merely recognition of the first years of a regular long degree.
More generally, existing pathways and qualifications – including the new
bachelor’s degree – need to be conceived as components of a linked,
coherent, complementary range of tertiary education options.
●
Boosting information and guidance for prospective tertiary education students and
their parents, from the end of basic schooling to the end of upper secondary
education. As options within Swiss tertiary education expand, a lack of
information about these options will impede a natural evolution in the
overall distribution of students to those options. There would be less
opportunity for an informed reckoning of labour market demand against
the known costs (for the country, individual Cantons and the individual
student). The lack of appropriate information on study options,
requirements, pathways, costs and likely employment consequences thus
stands in the way of both access and responsiveness to evolving demands
in the wider economy.
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11.3. Teaching, learning and research in dynamic tertiary
education systems
The reforms under way take as their justification the new demands of the
“knowledge economy” and “knowledge society”, and a concern about how
best to respond to growing cross-border interdependence in economic activity
and broader social matters such as the environment and social exclusion. The
demands and concerns have found some responses, not least in the boosting
of some parts of the advanced vocational system into the new universities of
applied sciences, giving emphasis to application and widely supported efforts
on the part of authorities and university and college officials to strengthen
Swiss participation in wider European higher education exchange activities
and other cross-border, cross-Canton and cross-institution initiatives (to
include new forms of delivery, not least technology-based learning options).
Swiss tertiary education already is characterised by comparatively large
numbers of non-Swiss teachers and researchers.
Notwithstanding the measures taken so far, the OECD review team asks
whether they combine to advance a sufficiently comprehensive vision of
teaching, learning and research in the “knowledge society” on both the domestic
and international scale. Its recommendations work toward situating these
activities more fully within the trends and patterns emerging as a consequence of
the knowledge society. In particular, the OECD review team recommends:
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●
Adaptations in pedagogy to respond to the widening diversity of
backgrounds, talents and pathways of students in the expanded tertiary
education system. Changes in the composition of the potential student pool
as well as in the competition among institutions call for a more considered
review of pedagogical practices in universities as well as the universities of
applied sciences and other tertiary-level programmes. Course modules and
study programmes at universities should take into account new and
different ways to interrogate and learn from the knowledge base. Students
at the universities of applied sciences and other tertiary-level institutions,
no less than those at the universities, need to be exposed to cutting-edge
research questions, reflection and findings.
●
Strengthening further research and teaching in the social sciences and
humanities, and incorporating cross-disciplinary dimensions. The
readiness to increase public investment in research, particularly in science
and technology, should be taken as an opportunity to search for a new
balance in the research profile, aims and methods. Support for research in
the social sciences and humanities should be strengthened. Such systemwide co-ordination can also benefit from research in humanities, the social
sciences and cross-disciplinary work. Indeed, cross-disciplinary teaching
and research should be encouraged throughout tertiary education. In this
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regard, the integration of social science and humanities within science and
engineering curricula at the institutes of technology serves as an important
and welcome development.
●
Strengthening further the social and cross-disciplinary dimensions of
research activity. The readiness to increase public investment in research,
particularly in science and technology, should be taken as an opportunity to
search for a new balance in the research profile, aims and methods. Criteria
for excellence in research should be broadened from standard academic
criteria to include contribution to informing the public debate on – and
helping to develop practical responses for addressing – such key societal
issues (partly associated with the emerging knowledge society) as
environmental damage, the weakening of the social fabric and an ageing
population. Those issues, among others, can also benefit from research in
the humanities, the social sciences and cross-disciplinary work. While
some of these fields have been identified as priorities for funding, and the
integration of social science and humanities within science and
engineering curricula has advanced at the institutes of technology, greater
attention to the academic, economic, social and cultural potential of other
disciplines and cross-disciplinary work is warranted.
●
Boosting professional education and training activities within universities,
universities of applied sciences and other tertiary education institutions, in
part through promoting strengthened links with industry. Notwithstanding
the rich tradition within advanced vocational training for adult and
continuing education, professional education and training should be
conceived in new ways and boosted through new policies fostering wide
partnership. Such policies should aim to engage the respective parties
beyond the informal arrangements that exist today. Targeted policies
should aim to extend technology transfer and professional education and
training to the SMEs, engaging in different ways both the universities and
the colleges. New incentives, perhaps incorporated in the performance
mandates, could be used to encourage partnership among universities, the
universities of applied sciences and other institutions of tertiary education.
●
Extending the internationalisation of Swiss tertiary education to teaching
and curricula. Policies and institutional practices should aim to advance
study programmes and course modules that draw from and accommodate
backgrounds and perspectives from all countries, building on the cultural
and language diversity that exists within Switzerland. Steps should be
taken to adapt curricula and conditions in ways that welcome children with
foreign citizenship or foreign-born parents who followed primary and
secondary education in Swiss schools, and to facilitate and further
encourage intra-Swiss mobility across language zones and mobility across
national borders including to countries other than immediate neighbours.
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Strategies for the international recruitment, exchange and engagement of
university and college staff, in a global perspective, should be widened and
strengthened in ways that contribute to teaching, learning and improved
curricula as well as high-quality research. Second and third languages of
instruction should be considered as elements of strateg ies.
Internationalisation as a concept guiding policy and practice should focus
on the contents and nature of study programmes and course modules, not
simply international mobility and co-operation.
●
Improving working and employment conditions for junior and middle-level
staff. Though some measures have been taken recently to create better
conditions for the stage between intermediate and senior ranks, additional
measures are needed.
11.4. Governance and organisation: incentives and capacity
for change
The consensus among key Swiss actors and experts is that the new
demands and challenges for tertiary education cannot be met unless there is
greater scope and capacity for initiative within the individual institutions, and
an allocation of resources in ways that broadly support the directions
advanced for the system as a whole. New Public Management, through which
universities and the universities of applied sciences were accorded substantial
autonomy and obliged to be accountable, has been introduced and rather
quickly adopted. Thus far, its implementation has been uneven across
institutions, and the hoped-for effects have yet to be fully realised. The new
measures anticipate that existing institutions established and administered
by the state, operating within a mostly publicly administered and funded
system, will respond to opportunities and targets set in the performance
mandates and to inter-institution competition for research funding and
students. Competition is limited in practice by requirements for co-operation,
coverage, regulation and, as the OECD examiners have already mentioned, a
lack of information to permit a full weighing of choices available to
prospective students and third-party funders. On the other hand, tertiary
education programmes and institutions experience growing competition from
outside Switzerland, for cutting-edge research production, leading figures in
academia and the most promising (and mobile) postgraduates if not first
degree students. That competition cannot be controlled by authorities at
Confederation and Canton levels, and stands as a powerful external stimulus
to be taken into account in policies at all levels.
The recommendations seek to encourage further the sharp edge of
governance, and funding reforms even more clearly tuned in to demands and
challenges emerging from the “knowledge economy” and “knowledge society”,
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and at the same time the establishment of mechanisms to strengthen the
capacities at system level and in individual institutions to respond proactively
and effectively. In particular, the OECD review team recommends:
●
Further strengthening of nationwide co-ordination, to better marshal and
channel support and foster productive and efficient co-operation across
institutions and cross-nationally in favour of the broad aims agreed for the
tertiary education system as a whole. Consideration should be given to a
merger under one ministry of existing tertiary education functions at
Confederation level, and a possible strengthening of Confederation powers
in areas such as the oversight of incentives to foster institutional profiles,
accreditation and evaluation activities, and development and maintenance
of the information base for decision making. Further, a new entity of the
CUS should take on an independent role as the provider of policy analyses,
policy advice and programme and capacity development activities for the
whole of tertiary education. Drawing from the expertise and experience
within tertiary education programmes and institutions but also seeking input
from industry and other third parties, a newly reconstituted CUS would be
expected to provide forward-looking recommendations for the evolution of
the system to meet the needs of the “knowledge society”. Such system-wide
co-ordination may limit in part the benefits anticipated from decentralised
decision making, programme- and institution-level responses to
competition, respect for diverse cultures and the accepted and valued
importance of popular votes on all matters, including those concerning
tertiary education. The measures proposed here allow ample margins with
regard to all of these concerns, and indeed may well better inform and
support the effective exercise of decision making in these settings.
●
Fostering the margin for decision making and the capacities for decision making at
senior management level, in universities and particularly the universities of applied
sciences and other tertiary education institutions. Experience so far suggests that
autonomy and initiative are exercised less than is commonly believed. The
OECD examiners recommend co-ordination and strengthened management
capacities at institution level, encouraged and promoted through policies that
require institutional plans and establish the leading role of senior managers in
developing evaluation and information management systems and in
negotiating, securing and receiving public funds. Further consideration should
be given to the composition and possible roles of the boards, a sharpening of
the outputs identified in performance mandates, and the generation of more
information to support decision making at the institutional level. For changes
in the overall steering of the tertiary education system to have their intended
effects, all those taking decisions must have the knowledge and abilities to
take advantage of the new arrangements. Measures to strengthen professional
management skills and capacities in institutions and ministries should be
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considered, including increases in qualified staff specialised in preparing and
implementing policy and management decisions. Finally, to encourage
initiative at a time when performance mandates and private source funding
are expected to define outputs, consideration should be given to some type of
“risk” margin in funding and performance appraisal. Such a margin would
encourage new, even exploratory initiatives that may fail, in areas such as
student recruitment; programme content, delivery or qualification; cross-level,
cross-sector or industry partnerships; and staffing arrangements. All of these
specific recommendations fall broadly within the framework for New Public
Management. NPM remains relatively new to tertiary education in
Switzerland, and is being resolved mostly through trial and error in areas such
as the powers of the boards versus those of the senior management, the
relationships between management and those in academia, and the roles
played by formula-based incentives, contracts or human resource
management. A more systematic account of the experiences should be
undertaken, with support from public authorities and possibly led by a
reconstituted CUS (Conférence universitaire suisse) to provide a basis for possible
needed alternatives and adaptations to framework conditions for NPM.
●
Widening the scope to draw in private sector initiative. There is greater potential
to exploit private initiative with a “public”-oriented system, building on
measures already in place such as incentives within performance
mandates, enrolment-driven funding, and options for studies and research
that lie outside Swiss borders. Private funding and provision should be used
to strengthen incentives and heighten competition for existing institutions,
in order to stimulate attention to overlooked potential student pools such
as lifelong learners, and to expand resources and allow for an even wider
diversity in programme options.
11.5. Information for decision making
The expansion and growing complexity of the system, an increase in the
number of key actors and professionals, and a greater role for assessment of the
processes in tertiary education and its impacts call for a substantial
improvement of the knowledge base of higher education. While all countries in
the OECD area would gain from an accessible, comprehensive, and up-to-date
information system to support decision making, Switzerland is particularly well
placed to create a system that could serve as a model for other countries. The
recent improvements in data collection, coupled with new demands for data
collection required by the present dynamic phase of tertiary education
development in Switzerland (including heightened interest in forward-looking
analyses of key issues and first steps in establishing evaluation processes and
criteria) offer an opportunity to structure and co-ordinate all information
gathering activities so as to support and inform decision making by the full
220
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
II.11.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
range of actors at Confederation, Canton and institution levels as well as by
prospective students, industry and other third parties.
The recommendations advanced below are intended to foster further
reflection along these lines. In particular, the OECD review team recommends:
●
Extending the statistics and surveys collected by the Federal Statistical
Office.
●
Widening and exploiting other activities that generate data relevant to the
functioning and perform ance of the tertiary educat ion syst em
(e.g. institution-level evaluations).
●
Co-ordinating, where appropriate and useful, the regular reporting and
assembly of data from different sources to provide a broader and more
timely information base for the system as a whole as well as for individual
institutions and programmes.
●
Strengthening the capacity for analytically and theoretically sound research
on key current issues and prospective developments and options, in the
first instance through targeted research support. An institute for tertiary
education research could be established to fill this need, its creation made
possible by identifying tertiary education and research as a priority for
regular research funding.
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
221
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bibliography
AUSTRIA, BMBWK, Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Kultur,
Statistical Guide 2001, Vienna.
CDIP (2000), “Conférence suisse des directeurs cantonaux de l’instruction publique”,
L’éducation secondaire II à venir, Bern, CDIP.
GERMAN-SWISS CONFERENCE OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION OFFICES (2000),
Vocational Education in Switzerland, German-Swiss Conference of Vocational
Education Offices, Bern.
OECD (1991), Review of National Policies for Education – Switzerland, Paris.
OECD (1996), Lifelong Learning for All, Paris.
OECD (1999), Preparing Youth for the 21st Century, Paris.
OECD (2001), Education at a Glance: 2001 Edition, Paris.
Staehlin-Witt E. and P. Parisi (1999), “Cost of Studies, Financing of Studies and Study
Mode”, European Journal of Education, Vol. 34, No. 4.
Stern, S. and A. Wagner, eds. (1999), International Perspectives on the School to Work
Transition, Cresskill, New Jersey, Hampton Press.
Switzerland, Federal Office for Education and Science (2001), Higher Education in
Switzerland, Edition 2001, Switzerland Federal Office for Education (BBW/OFES) and
Science, p. 7, Bern.
222
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
GLOSSARY OF ACRONYMS
Glossary of Acronyms
AIU
ASSH
ASSM
ASSN
ASST
AUAS
CASS
CDAS
CDEP
CDIP
CDS
CEPES
CEPF
CERN
CFHES
CHES
CIM
COST
Accord intercantonal universitaire (Intercantonal University
Agreement)
Académie suisse des sciences humaines et sociales (Swiss Academy
of Human and Social Sciences)
Académie suisse des sciences médicales (Swiss Academy of Medical
Sciences)
Académie suisse des sciences naturelles (Swiss Academy of Sciences)
Académie suisse des sciences techniques (The Swiss Academy of
Engineering Sciences)
Accord intercantonal sur les hautes écoles spécialisées
(Intercantonal Agreement on universities of applied sciences)
Conseil des académies scientifiques suisses (Council of Swiss
Scientific Academies)
Conférence des directeurs cantonaux des affaires sociales
(Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Social Affairs)
Conférence des directeurs cantonaux de l’économie publique
(Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Economic Affairs)
Conférence suisse des directeurs cantonaux de l’instruction publique
(Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education)
Conférence des directeurs cantonaux des affaires sanitaires
(Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Public Health)
Centre européen pour l’enseignement supérieur (European Centre for
Higher Éducation)
Conseil des écoles polytechniques fédérales (Board of Federal
Institutes of Technology)
European Organisation for Nuclear Research
Commission fédérale des hautes écoles spécialisées (Federal
Commission for Universities of applied sciences)
Conseil des hautes écoles spécialisées (Council for Universities of
applied sciences)
Computer-integrated manufacturing
European Co-operation in the field of Scientific and Technical
Research
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
223
GLOSSARY OF ACRONYMS
CRUS
CSEM
CSHES
CSST
CSUAS
CTI
CUAS
CUS
DS
ECTS
EHL
EPF
EPFL
ERASMUS
ESA
ESO
ESPA
ETH
ETHZ
EU
EU COMETT
EUA
EUREKA
FHA
FHBB
FHNW
FHO
FHSO
FHZ
FNP
FNS
224
Conférence des recteurs des universités suisses (Rectors’ Conference
of the Swiss Universities)
Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology
Conférence suisse des hautes écoles spécialisées (Swiss Conference
of Universities of applied sciences)
Conseil suisse de la science et de la technologie (Swiss Science and
Technology Council)
Conférence suisse des hautes écoles spécialisées (Swiss Conference
of Universities of applied sciences)
Commission pour la technologie et l’innovation (Commission for
Technology and Innovation)
Conseil des hautes écoles spécialisées (Council for universities of
applied sciences)
Conférence universitaire suisse (Swiss University Conference)
Diploma Supplement
European Community Course Credit Transfer System
École Hôtelière de Lausanne
École polytechnique fédérale (Federal institute of technology)
École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (Federal Institute of
technology Lausanne)
European Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students
European Space Agency
European Southern Observatory
Enquête suisse sur la population active (Swiss Labour Force Survey)
Federal institutes of technology
École polytechnique fédérale de Zurich (Federal Institute of
technology Zurich)
European Union
European University Association
Fachhochschule Aargau Nordwestschweiz
Fachhochschule beider Basel Nordwestschweiz
Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz
Fachhochschule Ostschweiz
Fachhochschule Solothurn Nordwestschweiz
Fachhochschule Zentralschweiz
Institut fédéral de recherches sur la forêt, la neige et le paysage
(Federal Institute for Woodland, Snow and Landscape Research)
Fonds national suisse de la recherche scientifique (Swiss National
Science Foundation)
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
GLOSSARY OF ACRONYMS
FRT
GDP
GNP
GSR
HEP
HES
HESBE
HESSO
HFSP
HUMANE
IDEA
IDHEAP
IFAEPE
IMHE
IPS
ISB
ISREC
IUHEI
IUKB
LAU
LFEM
LHES
LUAS
NPM
OAQ
OECD
OFES
Formation, recherche et technologie (education, research and
technology)
Gross domestic product
Gross national product
Groupement de la science et de la recherche (Swiss Science Agency)
Haute école pédagogique (Teacher’s College)
Haute école spécialisée (university of applied sciences)
Haute école spécialisée bernoise
Haute école spécialisée de Suisse occidentale
Human Frontier Science Programme
Heads of University Management and Administration Network in
Europe
Institut de hautes études en administration publique (Institute for
Advanced Studies in Public Administration)
Institut fédéral pour l’aménagement, l’épuration et la protection des
eaux (Federal Institute for Water Supplies, Waste Water
Treatment and Water Resources Protection)
Institutional Management in Higher Education (OECD)
Institut Paul Scherrer (Paul Scherrer Institute)
Institut suisse de bioinformatique (Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics)
Institut suisse de recherche expérimentale sur le cancer (Swiss
Institute for Experimental Cancer Research)
Institut universitaire de hautes études internationales (Graduate
Institute of International Studies)
Institut Universitaire Kurt Bösch
Loi fédérale sur l’aide aux universités et la coopération dans le
domaine des hautes écoles (Federal Act on Aid to Universities
and Co-operation in Higher Education)
Laboratoire fédéral d’essai des matériaux (Federal Laboratory for
Materials Testing and Research)
Loi fédérale sur les hautes écoles spécialisées (Federal universities of
applied sciences Act)
Loi fédérale sur les hautes écoles spécialisées (Federal Universities of
applied sciences)
New Public Management
Organe d’accréditation et d’assurance qualité (Accreditation and
Quality Assurance Body)
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Office fédéral de l’éducation et de la science (Federal Office for
Education and Science)
TERTIARY EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND – ISBN 92-64-10308-2 – © OECD 2003
225
GLOSSARY OF ACRONYMS
OFFT
OFS
OIF
PDC
PISA
PNR
PP
PRD
PRN
PSS
RSI
SATW
SHARE
SMEs
SNI-RSI
SSO
SUPSI
SVC
UAS
UAS-BE
UAS-SO
UDC
UNESCO
ZFH
226
Office fédéral de la formation professionnelle et de la technologie
(Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology)
Office fédéral de la statistique (Federal Statistical Office)
Organisation internationale de la francophonie (International
Organisation of the Francophonie)
Parti démocrate-chrétien suisse
Programme for International Student Assessment (OECD)
Programme national de recherche (National Research Programme)
Programme prioritaire (Priority Programme)
Parti radical-démocratique suisse
Pôle de recherche national (National Centre of Competence in
Research)
Parti socialiste suisse
Swiss Network for Innovation
Académie suisse des sciences techniques (Swiss Academy of
Engineering Sciences)
Swiss House for Advanced Research and Education
Small and medium-sized enterprises
Réseau suisse d’innovation (Swiss Network for Innovation)
Bureau des affaires spatiales (Swiss Space Office)
Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana
Student Virtual Campus
University of Applied Sciences
Haute école spécialisée bernoise
Haute école spécialisée de Suisse occidentale
Union démocratique du centre
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
Zürcher Fachhochschule
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