The Federal Council has managed the ETH Domain using strategic objectives since the budgetary period 2017–20, in accordance with the principles used to manage independent entities of the Federal Administration. Parliament amended the Federal Institutes of Technology Act (SR 414.110) on 30 September 2016, thereby establishing the legal basis for it to exert overall supervision of this domain and ensure that the Federal Council safeguards the interests of the Confederation. In addition, Parliament can instruct the Federal Council to pursue or modify specific objectives.
The Federal Council establishes the strategic objectives for the ETH Domain at four-year intervals. These objectives are aligned with the Confederation’s budget appropriation both in terms of time frame and content. For the period 2021–24, Parliament has approved a budget of CHF 10.8 billion. The Federal Council consults the ETH Board before establishing these strategic objectives.
Strategic objectives for 2021–24
The Federal Council’s use of strategic objectives to manage the ETH Domain proved successful in the 2017–20 period. For this reason, the strategic goals for 2021–24 have not fundamentally changed. In certain places, however, updates and clarifications have been made and particular emphases have been set.
The Federal Council’s main objectives for the ETH Domain remain maintaining its leading international position in research and offering first-class, attractive educational opportunities. There are also other objectives derived from the central role that the ETH Domain plays within the Swiss education, research and innovation system: operating and expanding research infrastructure and making it available to the entire research community; strengthening cooperation with cantonal universities and universities of applied sciences as well as private research partners; and supporting the entrepreneurial efforts of its members. On an international level, the ETH Domain is to further expand cooperation and networking with globally leading institutions and maintain its appeal for the most talented students and the best scientists. Digitalisation as well as energy, environment and sustainability are emphasised even more strongly than in the previous period.
In addition to these objectives, which fall within the ETH Domain’s core remit, the Federal Council has also established objectives relating to finance and real estate as well as to human resource and pension policy. In the area of HR, concrete measures are to be taken in order to: increase the proportion of women in teaching and research, especially in leadership roles and decision-making bodies; ensure equal opportunities; encourage diversity; and prevent any type of discrimination or harassment.
Responsibility for implementing the strategic goals rests with the ETH Board. It signs performance mandates with the two federal institutes of technology and four research institutes and allocates federal funding.
The Federal Council will report annually to Parliament and the public on progress towards achieving the objectives established for the ETH Domain.