Between 2000 and 2016, the Federal Council has managed the ETH Domain on the basis of performance agreements, each approved by Parliament. Starting from the budgetary period 2017-2020, the Federal Council will introduce strategic objectives, thereby enabling the ETH Domain to be managed according to the same principles as those used to manage independent entities of the Federal Administration (german).
Parliament amended the Federal Institutes of Technology Act (SR 414.110) on 30 September 2016, thereby establishing the necessary legal basis enabling 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 timeframe and content. For the period 2017-2020, Parliament has approved a budget of just under CHF 10.4 billion. The Federal Council consults the ETH Board before establishing these strategic objectives.
The strategic objectives of the Federal Council are overarching in nature and give the ETH Domain even more freedom of action than performance agreements when it comes to the implementation of these objectives. The legally anchored two-fold autonomy of the ETH Domain – i.e. of the individual institutions themselves and the ETH Domain as a whole – is unaffected by this change.
Strategic objectives for 2017-2020
The Federal Council has set the following main objectives for the ETH Domain: maintaining its leading international position in research and offering first-class, research-based teaching that students find appealing. 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, universities of applied sciences and private research partners; and supporting the entrepreneurial efforts of its members. On an international level, the ETH Domain should further expand cooperation and networking with the world’s best institutions and maintain its appeal for the best students and researchers. 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.
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.