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The ETH Board issues controlling directives and carries out strategic controlling in the ETH Domain.
According to the ETH Act, it is part of the ETH Board’s mission to issue controlling directives and to carry out strategic controlling in the ETH Domain. In the context of strategic controlling, the ETH Board primarily applies two instruments: firstly, a periodic exchange of information with the managements of the institutions of the ETH Domain, and secondly, various types of evaluations of institutions or parts of institutions of the ETH Domain.
The results of the ETH Board’s controlling activities are also a component of its three-part report to the Confederation and thus of the annual report, the interim evaluation (peer review) and the final report at the end of a performance mandate period.
Every year, the members of the ETH Board conduct talks regarding the status of mission fulfilment (dialogues) with the managements of both Federal Institutes of Technology and the research institutes. The most important objectives of the dialogues are
- reporting by the institutions on the extent to which the targets defined by the target agreements have been fulfilled (reporting part), and
- an open exchange of information and thoughts concerning topical issues and strategic development initiatives (strategic part).
One particular debating point of the strategic part is the positioning of the individual institutions in the ETH Domain, in the Swiss university and research landscape, and in the international competitive environment.
Evaluations conducted by independent groups of experts enjoy a high status in the world of research. The ETH Board makes use of this instrument in three different forms:
I. Evaluations of individual units of the institutions (departments, faculties and research units) or of research institutes. The executive boards of the institutions carry out such evaluations roughly every eight years; the ETH Board takes cognisance of the results and raises certain points from them in the context of a dialogue.
II. In special cases, the ETH Board may itself commission evaluations as part of its supervisory function. This may be the case with cross-institutional areas or issue-centred evaluations for important strategic decisions.
III. After half the duration of the Federal Council’s performance mandate for the ETH Domain, the ETH Board, on behalf of the State Secretary for Education and Research, carries out a so-called interim evaluation to check the achievement of the targets defined in the performance mandate. This evaluation and the ETH Board’s comments on it provide a basis for the subsequent performance mandate.
The evaluations in the ETH Domain are part of the strategic controlling and quality assurance function stipulated by the ETH Act.