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.
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
Promoting the mobility of doctoral students and further development of the 3rd cycle
The aim of this project is to improve the quality and appeal of PhD studies and to create promising career opportunities for PhD students. To this end, Swiss higher education institutions are developing new solutions to ensure equal treatment and quality. Swiss universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education have also partnered with universities in Switzerland and abroad in the area of PhD studies. This improves the quality of teaching and research and helps to ensure that Switzerland has an adequate number of skilled workers.
CHF 20 million
Open Science - FAIR Services for Swiss Universities
‘Open Science’ has been launched to find national solutions for the digitalisation of scientific knowledge. It is continuously expanding the service network for Swiss researchers to ensure access to publications and data. It is also developing the Open Science strategy, which combines library, IT and scientific IT services. (reserved: additional CHF 32.5 million)
CHF 11.8 million
Swiss Learning Health System
The Swiss Learning Health System is intended to become the national platform for health system and health services research. This will facilitate dialogue between researchers, policymakers and practitioners with the aim of developing evidence-based solutions for challenges affecting the Swiss health system.
CHF 4.8 million
Cooperation Project Study Reform Vetsuisse Faculty
Practical and communicative aspects will be added to the veterinary medicine syllabus in the form of external workplace training modules. This will provide students with exposure to real working conditions, allowing them to acquire competences that are not covered in the classroom.
CHF 0.69 million
SUDAC - swissuniversities development and cooperation network
‘SUDAC’ is intended to encourage cooperation in research focused on the global challenges of sustainable development. These challenges are addressed through partnership arrangements within Switzerland as well as with institutions in the global South. Inter- and transdisciplinarity should improve progress towards the SDGs.
CHF 2 million
Swiss Centre for Islam and Society
The ‘Swiss Centre for Islam and Society’ at the University of Fribourg contributes to the development of Islamic theological studies through research and the training of young academics. In addition, it serves as a platform for academic and social debates.
CHF 2 million
Improving digital skills in teaching
This project is intended to improve the digital skills of students and lecturers and support innovative projects among the various types of higher education institutions in Switzerland.
CHF 20 million
Strengthening the dual competence profile of the next generation of researchers at Swiss UAS and UTE
The aim of this project is to develop specific models to support young researchers. These models help to ensure that universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education have a sufficient number of adequately qualified staff and can further sharpen their specific profiles on the boundary between research and practice.
CHF 10 million
Sustainable development at Swiss universities – ‘U Change’ student projects
‘U Change’ is a funding programme for student projects that seeks to anchor sustainable development more firmly at universities. It covers student costs from the development of a project idea to its implementation and evaluation. Further objectives include the networking of the projects, for example at the annual Sustainable University Day, and the promotion of peer learning.
CHF 2.5 million
Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in Higher Education Development
The aim of this project is to structurally anchor diversity and inclusion within the organisation as well as in teaching, research and development. In addition, the project helps to raise awareness of aspects of unequal opportunities at higher education institutions by supporting thematic cooperation projects that shed light on the various issues.
CHF 5 million
Promotion of STEM in all types of Swiss higher education institutions
In this project, technical universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education will be more deeply involved in the initial and further training of teachers in the STEM field. This will improve higher education programmes and help to address the shortage of skilled workers in STEM fields.
CHF 4 million
Vocational didactics: consolidation of networks and development of career paths
Young people specialising in vocational didactics should receive greater support and better career opportunities. This project is also intended to encourage mobility and develop individual career paths for those who specialise in this field.
CHF 5 million
AGE-INT - Switzerland's international expertise for ‘Innovative solutions for an ageing society’
This project will consolidate the national innovation network Ageing and Switzerland's international positioning in ageing research. Thematic fields of inclusion will be taken into account. The aim is to make the results usable for political action and accessible to the general public.
CHF 3.43 million
Irene Rehmann, SERI
Scientific Advisor, Higher Education Policy