Cooperation between higher education institutions benefits Switzerland

At the start of the 2021-2024 budgetary period, Swiss higher education institutions began implementing the thirteen cooperation projects that the Swiss Conference of Higher Education Institutions (SHK) had approved at the end of 2020. These projects cover priority higher education policy issues and are partially funded through federal project subsidies amounting to CHF 124 million over the four-year period. As in the previous period, the two federal institutes of technology (ETHZ and EPFL) as well as Swiss universities of applied sciences (UAS) and universities of teacher education (UTEs) will also receive federal project subsidies.

According to the Higher Education Act (HEdA), project subsidies are one of three mechanisms that the Confederation uses to help fund higher education institutions, the other two being core subsidies and building subsidies. In this manner, the Confederation backs cooperation projects that further national higher education policy aims, such as support for young researchers, digitalisation of research findings and data, diversity and equal opportunities, and sustainable development.

Project subsidies also enable the Confederation and the cantons to set priorities in the higher education sector and jointly address overarching issues. Project proposals are made by the Swiss Conference of Rectors of Higher Education Institutions (swissuniversities). The Swiss Conference of Higher Education Institutions (SHK), which is the joint cantonal-federal policymaking body for the Swiss higher education sector, evaluates and approves these project proposals.

Federal project subsidies are part of higher education funding. They enable the Confederation and the cantons to support priority topics through cooperation between Swiss higher education institutions.
Image: ZHAW
Federal project subsidies are available for cantonal universities, the two federal institutes of technology, universities of applied sciences, other institutions in the higher education sector eligible for funding and, under certain conditions, universities of teacher education.
Image: University of Basel/Andri Pol

This bottom-up principle ensures that project selection corresponds to the actual needs of the Swiss higher education institutions. Project selection is based on the priority areas decided by the SHK, on tasks of national importance within the meaning of HEdA, and on the objectives and priorities established in the swissuniversities Strategic Plan for 2021-2024. This includes the cross-cutting themes of digitalisation, sustainable development and equal opportunities as described in the Federal Council Dispatch on the Promotion of Education, Research and Innovation for 2021-2024.

The projects are also intended to support young researchers and prepare the next generation of skilled workers in fields where there is currently a shortage (human medicine, health, science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Moreover, projects help to sharpen the profile of higher education institutions and distribute tasks among them. The current projects are largely a continuation of other projects from previous funding periods. The focus is on deepening, expanding and supplementing ongoing measures as well as on ensuring sustainable implementation in the higher education institutions concerned.

Promoting for 2021-2024