Intermediate Evaluation 2019 of the ETH Domain

Every four years, in the middle of its funding period, the ETH Domain is thoroughly evaluated by an inter-national panel of experts mandated by the head of the responsible department of the Swiss Federal Council.

The ETH Board was eager to learn from the 2019 Intermediate Evaluation how the experts view the ETH Domain’s standing and role in the Swiss higher education and research system, and how they consider it should be further developed to maintain its international competitiveness while also serving Switzerland’s needs. The ETH Board greatly appreciates the forward-looking orientation of the recommendations, which will support the ETH Domain’s future development in the interests of society and the economy. Based on strategic considerations in response to the experts’ recommendations, the ETH Board has de-fined the following top-priority measures:

  • The increasing global competition and major scientific and societal challenges call for a thorough review of the ETH Domain’s organisational structure. Major criteria of the review concern the ETH Do-main’s agility and flexibility for setting thematic goals that address pressing societal, humanitarian and economic needs, and its ability to foster multi-disciplinary research programmes that deliver innovative solutions for sustainable development. The review has begun by addressing the structure of, and cooperation within, the ETH Domain and will subsequently involve external partners (incl. universities, universities of applied sciences and Federal Offices).
  • The current partial revision of the ETH Act will further improve the internal governance of the ETH Domain, taking due account of the specificities associated with leading and supervising higher education and research institutions.
  • International openness and multilateral cooperation are essential for the global competitiveness and positioning of the ETH Domain institutions. Access to international networks and participation in inter-national research schemes (notably Horizon Europe) are of paramount importance for remaining competitive internationally, for the development of young Swiss academics and for Switzerland’s ability to address societal challenges.
  • The ETH Domain institutions will strengthen and further develop their continuing education offering, specifically addressing former graduates of ETH Zurich and EPFL as well as persons with different educational backgrounds to equip them with the digital skills necessary to face the digital challenge in their respective leadership positions.
  • Human resources are the key factor for the ETH Domain’s successful future development. The ETH Board emphasises the importance of high standards of leadership and management and will ensure that adequate processes are in place in all ETH Domain institutions.
  • Reserves are crucial: each institution of the ETH Domain will manage its reserves to foster the institution’s strategic development and to drive forward new scientific fields and initiatives.
  • Communication with the general public and with stakeholders is of utmost importance. The ETH Board recognises the need to broaden the scope of the ETH Domain’s communication efforts, emphasising the impact of the institutions’ research endeavours and services to society and how they can help shape society’s transition processes.

The recommendations of the 2019 Intermediate Evaluation identify or confirm important strategic action fields and help to accelerate the processes to implement the respective and appropriate measures. Defining and implementing them at the ETH Domain and the institutional level will require joint efforts by the ETH Board and the institutions as well as a corresponding timeframe. The ETH Board is convinced that implementation of the outlined measures will properly equip the ETH Domain for tackling future challenges.  

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