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European programmes - Time is pressing for the universities

Swiss universities have been hard hit by the breakdown of negotiations for a framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU, and thus the classification as a third country in the European research and education programmes. At the moment, there are no signals from the European Commission for a quick association. This drastically reduces the chances of association in this period. The Swiss authorities are trying to cushion the negative effects with various measures. These are indispensable, but are never a complete substitute for Switzerland's full participation in the programmes.

For the universities, the situation with regard to research programmes is currently as follows: Projects can no longer be realised as planned, Swiss researchers are losing project leaders, and projects and researchers are relocating to EU countries. As a result, the budgets of the universities will be short of millions.[1]In the Erasmus+ education programmes, Switzerland is not only excluded from the exchange programmes, but also from the development of a European digital education area. For higher education institutions, this has the consequence that partnerships have to be negotiated in a complicated bilateral manner and that administrative hurdles increase. All of this makes Switzerland less attractive for both partners and students.

swissuniversities appeals to education and research policy to secure the international top position of Swiss universities with the following measures:

  • The rapid development of offers for full association acceptable to the EU.
  • The sustainable securing of instruments and budgets that reduce the damage to non-association for the universities.
  • The consistent alignment of current measures with the needs of higher education institutions and research.

Knowledge and education are among Switzerland's most important resources. If the universities are weakened, Switzerland also loses its attractiveness as a location. It is therefore in the general interest to prevent an erosion of the international positioning of Switzerland as a centre of knowledge


[1] In January 2022, swissuniversities already presented scenarios for the development of European cooperation.

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