Long-term sustained promotion of education, research and innovation (ERI) is one of the pillars of Switzerland's success. A high-quality education system encourages personal development and integration into the labour market and enables lifelong learning. Education and research are the basis for creativity, inventiveness and entrepreneurship and are thus essential prerequisites for the innovative capacity of companies and the competitiveness of our country. In accordance with Switzerland's federal policy system, responsibilities for the various funding tasks in the ERI sector are divided between the Confederation and the cantons.
At all levels of the Swiss education, research and innovation system, subsidiarity, autonomy and partnership are fundamental principles of cooperation between policymaking levels. The Confederation and the cantons regulate and finance the ERI sector in accordance with their respective authority and responsibilities and work closely together through various joint bodies.
Within this context, the Federal Council formulates its policy for the promotion of education, research and innovation every four years in a dispatch on the promotion of education, research and innovation. This dispatch is sent to the Federal Assembly for approval. In its ERI Dispatch for the years 2021-2024, the Federal Council reviewed the previous funding period, formulated future priorities, objectives and measures and requested the funding required for policy implementation.
Based on the various parliamentary decisions, the Confederation plans to spend around CHF 28.1 billion on ERI funding in the period 2021-2024. This is a roughly CHF 2 billion more than in 2017-2020 and sends out a strong signal of the tremendous political importance given to education, research and innovation in Switzerland.
With these considerable budget allocations, the Confederation finances the Federal Institutes of Technology’s ETH Domain and fulfils its role as the most important public supporter of research and innovation at national and international level. It also subsidises vocational education and training as well as cantonal universities and universities of applied sciences.
Federal funding covers around 20% of total public expenditure on ERI, with the remaining funding coming from the cantons. In addition to its financial commitment, the Confederation's role in the ERI sector is essentially that of an enabler. As such, it seeks to provide independent stakeholders in education, research and innovation with the best possible general regulatory conditions in support of their activities and actions. The fact that it has named digitalisation, sustainable development and equal opportunities as central themes of its ERI policy for the period 2021-2024, it has the commitment of the cantons and all relevant stakeholders.