Usable floor space at Swiss higher education institutions has increased in recent years

For the second time since 2016, SERI will publish a general inventory of usable floor space available at cantonal universities and federal institutes of technology (collectively referred to as tier-one universities, or T1s) and universities of applied sciences (UAS) in 2020.

© FHNW Campus Muttenz / Photo Zeljko Gataric

This information allows the cantons to compare the amount of floor space available per user (staff and students combined) or per student at other cantonal universities for a given field of study. The cantons can then use this information in their own building and spatial planning projects. In addition, both the Confederation and the cantons can refer to this inventory to clarify needs for new floor space and thus new buildings, and better justify the prioritisation for federal subsidies under the Higher Education Act (HEdA).

In September 2022, SERI published an inventory of usable floor space available to cantonal universities, ETH Zurich and EPFL (collectively referred to as T1s) and universities of applied sciences (UAS) in 2020. Each higher education measured its floor space and submitted its figures to SERI. Swiss universities of teacher education (UTEs) were not included in this assessment. In 2020, Swiss T1 and UAS reported a total of 3,003,461 m2 of usable floor space. Floor space is considered usable when it can be used in manner that serves the purpose and use of the building in the narrow sense, excluding technical areas (e.g. ventilation rooms) and ancillary usable floor space (e.g. parking space). Nearly three-fourths (72%) of the total floor space is owned by the respective higher education institution. The remainder is rented space.

Floor space is divided into seven different usage types (see chart below). At T1s, office space is the largest usage type (33%), whereas at UAS, classroom space is the largest usage type (35%). By comparison, T1s have a significantly lower proportion of classroom space (11%). One possible reason for this could be that most teaching at UAS takes place in a classroom whereas most teaching at a T1 takes place in multifunctional or auditoriums.

Total usable floor space, in %, by type of higher education institution and usage type


Facts and figures