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swissuniversities regrets erosion of ERI sector finances

The Federal Council today communicated the key figures for the ERI Dispatch 2025-28 with an average annual growth rate of 2% in nominal terms. The inflation to be expected in the next few years will probably cancel out this growth, so that this growth rate will lead to a clearly noticeable erosion of the quality of the services of the universities and they will not be able to implement the planned priority measures to the appropriate extent. At least in the medium term, negative effects on Switzerland as a research and innovation location are also to be feared, especially since the exclusion from Horizon Europe already impairs the attractiveness of Swiss universities.

Public contributions to universities and universities of applied sciences are intended to ensure high quality teaching and excellent basic and applied research. The growth in federal contributions, which are awarded in particular on the basis of student numbers, must be able to keep pace with their growth in order to maintain the current quality alone. swissuniversities advocates an annual real growth rate of over 2.5% in order to prevent stagnation or even a decline in the quality of outstanding teaching at Swiss universities and excellence in basic and applied research.

Furthermore, swissuniversities regrets the Federal Council's decision to no longer budget for the mandatory contribution to the European research programme Horizon Europe until 2026. This increased uncertainty makes the Swiss higher education area less attractive and thus less competitive. In addition, it is an unfavourable political signal that may give the impression that the Federal Council no longer hopes for a full association. In this sense, a clear commitment to the goal of association and the promise to make the funds available through a supplementary credit in the event of association would be necessary. Furthermore, swissuniversi-ties considers it essential that the transitional measures, which are intended to cushion non-access to Horizon Europe, continue to be fully financed to the same extent as before.

Finally, swissuniversities firmly rejects the 2% savings measures announced for the 2024 budget and the 2025-27 financial plan. This savings measure will further widen the gap between political expectations and reality. The universities pursue numerous strategic tasks, ranging from ensuring international excellence and maintaining high quality teaching, research and innovation to strengthening their contribution to the social and economic fabric of Switzerland, equal opportunities and the transfer of knowledge to a broad public. These strategic goals are of central importance to the national economy, as universities help to strengthen Switzerland as a business location and its international competitiveness. The implementation of these measures requires the commitment and coordination of all actors in education, research and innovation, the support of the state and the provision of adequate financial resources. Only in this way can the quality and attractiveness of Switzerland as a centre of research and innovation be ensured in the long term.

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