Knowledge in all of its forms is one of the most important factors for individual fulfilment and success in society. Education and research play a decisive role in the creation, dissemination and use of knowledge. They form an important foundation for innovation at all levels, which in turn drives the economic, social and cultural development of a country.
Because of these linkages, the Federal Council considers education, research and innovation (ERI) to be a priority policy sector. ERI funding policy is based on an awareness of the fact that Switzerland can only maintain and further consolidate its very competitive and world-class position if it remains a knowledge-based society. This means that society, the economy and science are mutually interdependent. Encouraging education, research and innovation is therefore essential for the preservation of social standards, social cohesion, sustainable development and Switzerland’s appeal as a location.
ERI policy guidelines and objectives for 2013-2016
In the current Legislative Plan, the Federal Council has devoted one of its objectives to the ERI sector: “Switzerland considers education, research and innovation to be a top priority.” With the agreement of the Cantons, and based on the strategic plans of grant funding recipients, the Federal Council has established three ERI policy guidelines for 2013-2016 along with corresponding objectives.
Guideline Education: “Satisfy the demand for workers with general education or VET/PET qualifications”:
- Ensuring a wide range of diverse and permeable education and training programmes through balanced funding of general education and VET/PET pathways.
- Ensuring the high quality and solid international reputation of the Swiss higher education sector, particularly by creating adequate professor-student ratios.
- Consolidating the national and international position of VET/PET by giving equal value to general education and VET/PET pathways, as required by the Federal Constitution.
- Improving the learning capabilities and employability of young people by ensuring that at least 95% obtain upper-secondary level qualifications.
- Ensuring that the education system is open to the rest of the world by encouraging the international mobility of VET learners, baccalaureate students, university students and teaching staff.
- Maintaining the quality of baccalaureates by ensuring that baccalaureate holders have acquired the requisite academic skills.
- Coordinating introduction of the new Federal Act on Funding and Coordination of the Higher Education Sector.
- Creating the general conditions for continuing education and training (CET), among other things by improving the level of transparency and quality of CET courses.
Guideline Research and Innovation: “Consolidate the high level of grant funding awarded on a competitive basis and further strengthen Switzerland’s internationally competitive position.” The following objectives will be pursued:
- Positioning Switzerland’s international reputation as a competitive location for research and economic activities by increasing the amount of grant funding awarded on a competitive basis for research and innovation.
- Ensuring that Switzerland holds a top position in promising fields through targeted measures to improve research, development and innovation capabilities, while leaving enough room for unconventional research approaches.
- Investing in strategically important research infrastructures at the national and international levels.
- Maintaining the strategic importance of international cooperation and networking with European and non-European countries.
- Improving cooperation between research institutes and the private sector.
Guideline General aspects of the ERI system “Establish Switzerland as a location where research and economic activities are based on the principles of equal opportunity, sustainability and competitiveness”:
- Strengthening social cohesion through the production, dissemination and use of knowledge.
- Allocating greater funding to train the next generation of researchers and qualified workers.
- Promoting equal opportunities by ensuring that education allows all individuals to achieve their full potential.
- Fostering sustainable development by ensuring that the structures and content of the ERI system serve social, economic and environmental interests.
ERI budget for 2013-2016
According to the Financial Plan, the ERI budget should once again grow at an above-average rate (+3.7% per year) compared to other policy sectors during the budgetary period 2013-2016. Total planned federal expenditure for ERI over the 2013-2016 period stands at around CHF 26 billion. This amount includes estimated funding to cover Swiss participation in EU education and research framework programmes, which will be requested at a later time. In response to the Federal Council Dispatch on Education, Research and Innovation for 2013-2016, the Swiss Parliament has approved eleven budget lines totalling roughly CHF 24.0358 billion.
Federal funding of education, research and innovation 2013-2016 (billion CHF)
* Will be requested at a later time.
Cantonal and federal funding of ERI sector
A clear set of data and complete information on budget allocations are an inherent part of the political process within the ERI sector. A four-year report as well as annual updates on budget allocations are available.