In its communication on political and social issues, swissuniversities focuses on the core values: reliability, honesty, respect, and accountability.
Higher education institutions are repeatedly confronted with questions concerning the extent to which freedom of expression, academic freedom, and the prohibition of discrimination in accordance with human rights are respected in individual cases of conflict. For communication in cases of conflict, the ethical principles of academic integrity shall provide a frame of reference.
The academic world is coined by a discursive character that thrives on scientific dispute: the emergence of knowledge and new insights is promoted through the discussion of theories, data, and opinions. Academic teaching and research find spaces in higher education institutions where discourse and debate are lived and promoted.
Higher Education Institutes aim to contribute to the social, economic, and political life of Switzerland. This includes providing and communicating knowledge to meet the major challenges facing society – from demographic change and the effects of globalisation to health, environmental and economic crises. Controversies in dealing with these crises form a necessary part of plural societies.
Higher education institutions train their staff in the principles of scientific integrity, encourage them to share their knowledge with society, the media, and the authorities, to participate in public debates and to combat misinformation, and support them with communication training. Higher education institutions support science communication initiatives and dialogue with all stakeholders in society.
Duties and rights in the higher education area
All institutes of higher education operate within the framework of the Swiss constitutional state. Academics have the same rights and obligations as everyone else. The attitude of the university management is also defined within the framework of their institutional autonomy and their respective organisational structure and culture. Furthermore, the principles of academic integrity and academic values apply, as reaffirmed by swissuniversities in May 2021. These principles can be summarised under the guiding principle of scientific due diligence and apply without restriction and to all disciplines. The Code defines common standards that are indispensable for a culture of scientific integrity. The Code is addressed to all actors involved in the generation, dissemination, and promotion of knowledge in the Swiss higher education system.
In the current debate on freedom of expression, diversity and the prohibition of discrimination, a frame of reference for communication is derived from these basic principles of scientific integrity:
- RELIABILITY: in terms of ensuring the quality of research and teaching to maximise credibility and trust in science and in terms of transparency and accountability.
- HONESTY: in the development, design and implementation, review, and evaluation, reporting and communication of research and teaching. These are carried out in a transparent manner with a view to achieving maximum impartiality.
- RESPECT: for colleagues in science, people in training, studies and research participants, society, cultural heritage, ecosystems as well as the environment. Due consideration should be given to the diversity and life experience of all persons involved.
- ACCOUNTABILITY: for research from the idea to valorisation and transfer.