Academic Excellence & Close Ties to Research
Swiss universities, universities of applied sciences and arts, and universities of teacher education strive for academic excellence. They fare well in conducting top-notch research and in acquiring competition-based funding. But how does that reflect on students’ day-to-day experiences?
Teaching in Swiss higher education is much more than swotting up on theory or rushing from one exam to another. Nearly all professors are involved in cutting-edge research projects and closely link their student-centred teaching to their findings.
Upon enrolment, you become part of a community that supports your growth and academic development. Your contribution is requested, and you are supposed to develop your own viewpoints. Professors and classmates will eagerly challenge your viewpoints and thus empower you to defend them.
The Swiss higher education system is very selective. Studying at a Swiss university will of course always involve a solid base in theoretical foundation. Your classes, seminars and projects will, however, be strongly linked to research conducted at your institution. Swiss universities are dedicated to the task of forming highly skilled, creative, innovative, multilingual and culturally open graduates. Swiss authorities are committed to making sure that the universities are substantially funded for this task.
Outstanding learning environment
Students learn directly from researchers. Academic excellence is mainly based on an outstanding framework for junior and senior researchers and on the principle of competition. There are several national research funds in Switzerland where scholars compete for funding – for basic research or for R&D. Apart from being an innovation hotspot, Switzerland is also highly successful in international competition for research funds.
Swiss Researchers are Highly Successful in Competing for European Research Funds
Swiss researchers show a very high success rate in the European competition for ERC funding (European Research Council). From 2007 to 2013, Switzerland held a big lead with an average success rate of 23 per cent. Other countries followed with 16 per cent. In ERC grants per capita, Switzerland and Israel do extremely well (Science Magazine).
Nobel Prize Laureates
The success of Swiss universities is also due to their openness and international scope. The contribution of international researchers conducting their projects and teaching at our institutions is highly relevant. Some of them have crowned their research achievements with a Nobel Prize and brought fame to their university. Others have been inspired by several organizations and initiatives receiving this prestigious award:
- Jacques Dubochet, Chemistry, 2017
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), U.N. Office at Geneva, Peace, 2007
- Kurt Wüthrich, Chemistry, 2002
- Médecins Sans Frontières, Peace, 1999
- Rolf M. Zinkernagel, Physiology or Medicine, 1996
- Edmond H. Fischer, Physiology or Medicine, 1992
- Richard R. Ernst, Chemistry, 1991
- Karl Alexander Müller, Physics, 1987
- Heinrich Rohrer, Physics, 1986
- Georges J. F. Köhler, born in Germany (worked in Switzerland from 1976 to 1984), Physiology or Medicine, 1984
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), U.N. Office at Geneva, Peace 1954 and 1981
- Werner Arber, Physiology or Medicine, 1978
- Vladimir Prelog, born in then Austria-Hungary, now Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chemistry, 1975
- International Labour Organization (I.L.O.), U.N. Office at Geneva, Peace, 1969
- International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Geneva, Peace, 1963
- Daniel Bovet, Physiology or Medicine, 1957
- Felix Bloch, Physics, 1952
- Tadeus Reichstein, Physiology or Medicine, 1950
- Walter Rudolf Hess, Physiology or Medicine, 1949
- Paul Hermann Müller, Physiology or Medicine, 1948
- International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), U.N. Office at Geneva, Peace, 1917 and 1944
- Hermann Hesse, born in Germany, Literature, 1946
- Leopold Ružička, born in then Austria-Hungary, now Croatia, Chemistry, 1939
- Paul Karrer, Chemistry, 1937
- Albert Einstein, born in Germany, Physics, 1921
- Charles Édouard Guillaume, Physics, 1920
- Carl Spitteler, Literature, 1919
- Alfred Werner, Chemistry, 1913
- International Peace Bureau (IPB), Geneva and Zurich, Peace, 1910
- Theodor Kocher, Physiology or Medicine, 1909
- Élie Ducommun, Peace, 1902
- Charles Albert Gobat, Peace, 1902
- Henry Dunant, Peace, 1901
Front picture: Albert Einstein © ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv / Photographer: unknown/ Hs_0304-1151-003 / Public Domain Mark