Intermediate Evaluation 2023 of the ETH Domain

Every four years, half way through its funding period, the ETH Domain undergoes a thorough evaluation by a group of national and international experts mandated by the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER).

The ETH Board would like to thank the Expert Committee of the 2023 Intermediate Evaluation for its in-depth examination of the ETH Domain and its institutions. The examination of the current strengths and weaknesses as well as the productive exchange and stimulating discussions resulted in forward-looking recommendations that are both supportive and challenging. The implementation of these recommendations will support the ETH Domain’s development to the benefit of Switzerland’s education and research sector, economy and society.

The ETH Board is pleased by the experts’ overall assessment of the exceptional quality of the ETH Domain institutions. The ETH Board is also satisfied that the experts have noted significant progress since the last Intermediate Evaluation in 2019 and is aware of the need to continue its constant reflection on how best to further improve the performance and the impact of the ETH Domain and to respond to upcoming challenges.

In this Response to the Recommendations of the Expert Committee, the ETH Board addresses each of the recommendations and presents its considerations and ongoing activities with regard to the points raised by the experts. This is followed by “action lines” with which the ETH Board and the ETH Domain institutions intend to address the recommendations at a general, domain-wide level. More concrete measures are subsequently developed and implemented at the level of the individual institutions.

The ETH Board believes that it is crucial for the ETH Domain institutions to maintain their ability to compete with the best institutions worldwide and to remain the flagship of the Swiss education, research and innovation (ERI) sector. Through their excellence in teaching, research and knowledge and technology transfer (KTT), the institutions of the ETH Domain enhance the attractiveness of the Swiss ERI sector as well as the prosperity and competitiveness of Swiss society and the Swiss economy.

In response to the Expert Committee’s report and recommendations, the ETH Board considers the following points in particular to be essential for the successful development of the ETH Domain:

  • The institutions of the ETH Domain give the highest priority to research-based teaching. They continue to take the necessary action to maintain and improve the quality of education in the long term and in the context of a growing student population – an important contribution to help counteract the shortage of experts in Switzerland. They pay particular attention to assessing the relevance of educational programmes in light of the present and future demands of the economy, industry, research and the public sector.

  • The institutions of the ETH Domain continue to perform research at the highest level and contribute to anticipating and resolving the most pressing local, national and global challenges. Attracting and retaining the best talent is a major condition for ensuring excellence. Another key factor in the ETH Domain’s international attractiveness are Switzerland’s first-class research infrastructures. The institutions of the ETH Domain further strengthen their leading role in conceptualising, developing, operating and upgrading large-scale research infrastructures and platforms.

  • The institutions of the ETH Domain actively contribute to Switzerland’s innovative capacity by further strengthening their key role in knowledge and technology transfer for the benefit of the economy and industry (young companies as well as SMEs and established companies), the public sector and society. They continuously develop their KTT instruments to enable simple and straightforward processes.

  • The ETH Board and the institutions of the ETH Domain are engaged in a future-oriented discussion on the mission of the ETH Domain and, building on this, on the question of strategic orientation and the optimal structure as one of their central tasks and responsibilities. They evaluate various options on how to best position and organise the ETH Domain to meet future needs.

  • The institutions of the ETH Domain further strengthen an inclusive and respectful culture and working and studying environment, recognising that inclusion is key to realising the full potential of diversity. They build on existing policies to develop and implement a corresponding strategy.

  • The institutions of the ETH Domain contribute to the translation of research into concrete solutions and policies in order to respond promptly to urgent challenges by intensifying the dialogue between academic actors, public authorities and society. They play a leading role in the development and implementation of the strategies to improve the involvement of the scientific community in future crisis situations.

In order to address the above aspects, the corresponding political and financial framework conditions are indispensable. The Expert Committee mentions the following points, which the ETH Board would like to underline:

  • International openness: To compete at the highest international level, to attract the best talent and to maintain excellence, international openness and multilateral scientific collaborations are essential. Switzerland’s full association with the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon Europe, Digital Europe, Euratom Research and Training Programme and ITER is of utmost importance for the ETH Domain.

  • Stable and reliable funding: Only with sufficient financial resources can the ETH Domain continue to fulfil its flagship role for the Swiss ERI sector and – in a context of growth in student numbers – maintain the quality of education and meet the demands of economy, industry and the public sector for highly qualified personnel.

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