ETH Board concerned about planned budget cuts
Berne/Zurich, 10.03.2023 - At its meeting on 8/9 March 2023, the ETH Board was informed of the Federal Council’s planned cutbacks and decided how resources will be allocated to the institutions in 2024 under these conditions. The planned cuts to ERI funding jeopardise the education of highly qualified specialists in Switzerland. The ETH Board also appointed a new member of the Executive Board of ETH Zurich and three new members of the Eawag Directorate. In addition, it approved the consolidated reporting for the ETH Domain, which is now being submitted to the Confederation.
The ETH Domain drives innovation
Thanks to its highly trained specialist workforce, Switzerland is one of the world's leading centres of innovation. The ETH Domain fulfils a key function in enhancing the country's status as a major centre for innovation and technology. It also plays a significant role through the creation of numerous spin-offs and, in particular, by educating highly qualified specialists who contribute their expertise to the economy and to society. Studies demonstrate that for every Swiss franc invested in the ETH Domain, Switzerland receives five Swiss francs in return.
The ETH Board understands that the Confederation needs to make savings because of the structural deficit. It is, however, concerned that the ETH Domain is being affected particularly severely, with announced cuts of some CHF 70 million. If anything, additional funding for research and teaching is required. The planned 2% cut in federal funding would mean that professorships could no longer be filled in some areas. In the context of rising student numbers, this would result in a worse student-teacher ratio, an impending drop in the rankings and a decline in research, with the accompanying reduction in Swiss innovation capacity, as professors cope with heavier teaching loads.
Limiting the number of admissions must be avoided
The ETH Board's top priority is to offer an excellent education to everyone interested in studying STEM subjects, in order to meet the economy's demand for highly qualified specialists. Financial investment by the Confederation is the main means of achieving this. Numerous measures have already been implemented in order to ensure teaching quality. The number of seats in lecture theatres has been increased, courses are being offered in hybrid form and administrative processes have been made more efficient. Nevertheless, a number of courses are now at full capacity, and investment in both teaching staff and facilities is needed. The ETH Board is committed to ensuring that education continues to be offered at the highest level, which includes making every effort to avoid limiting the number of students admitted. There is already a shortage of qualified specialists. Parliament's final decisions will bring clarity regarding the financial resources available.
New member appointed to the Executive Board of ETH Zurich
The ETH Board has appointed Stefan Spiegel as a new member of the Executive Board of ETH Zurich. He will succeed Robert Perich as Vice President Finance and Controlling as of 1 April 2023. Stefan Spiegel studied theoretical physics at the University of Zurich and obtained an Executive MBA in the dual degree programme of Vienna University of Economics and Business and the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. He has many years' management experience as a chief financial officer, head of controlling, and project manager for organisational development in the finance departments of national and international companies. Most recently, Stefan Spiegel was CFO and a member of the Management Board of SBB Cargo AG. The ETH Board thanks Robert Perich for his 20 years of service to ETH Zurich. He has been Vice President Finance and Controlling since 2008 after previously serving as Director of Finance and Controlling at ETH Zurich.
Appointment of three new members of the Eawag Directorate
New appointments are being made to the Eawag Directorate at the request of Professor Martin Ackermann, who has taken over as Director of Eawag. The ETH Board has appointed Dr Christian Stamm as the new Deputy Director. His interdisciplinary research has a focus on agriculture and water quality, and he works at the interface between practice, society and policy. Christian Stamm is Deputy Head of Eawag's Environmental Chemistry department, having worked at the aquatic research institute since 2002. The ETH Board has also appointed Professor Florian Altermatt and Professor Lenny Winkel as members of the Directorate. Florian Altermatt is a biodiversity scientist with a focus on aquatic ecology. Lenny Winkel is Associate Professor of Inorganic Environmental Geochemistry at ETH Zurich and Eawag. Both have worked at Eawag in a variety of roles since 2011. Professor Christian Zurbrügg and Professor Jukka Jokela left the Directorate at the end of February, although they both continue to work for Eawag. The current Deputy Director, Rik Eggen, is stepping down from this role. He will remain a member of the Directorate until his retirement at the end of 2023.
Allocation of resources for 2024
The ETH Domain is expected to receive CHF 2,736 million in federal funding for 2024. In February the Federal Council decided on savings measures that would see the ETH Domain's budget cut by 2%. Parliament will make the final decision on the 2024 budget in the winter session 2023. The bulk of the federal funding for 2024 - CHF 2,574 million - goes to the two Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Zurich and EPFL) and the four research institutes (PSI, WSL, Empa and Eawag) for their operations and the implementation of their development plans. The remainder of the centrally planned funding - CHF 162 million - is earmarked for research infrastructure and strategic focus areas, as well as joint initiatives of the ETH Domain institutions in these strategically important areas.
Consolidated reporting for 2022 on the ETH Domain
The ETH Board has approved the consolidated reporting 2022 on the ETH Domain, which has been checked and certified by the Federal Audit Office (SFAO). The annual report and the financial report of the ETH Board will now be sent to the Federal Council for approval and then published. In the consolidated reporting and the annual report, the ETH Board records how far the Federal Council's Strategic Objectives for the ETH Domain for the period 2021-2024 have been met. The financial report provides full and transparent information about the 2022 financial year.
Address for enquiries
Head of Communication of the ETH Board
Häldeliweg 15, CH-8092 Zurich
+41 44 632 20 03
Board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology