The ETH Board is responsible for the ETH Domain’s strategic planning. It compiles this four-year strategy for submission to the Confederation, from which the Federal Council’s strategic objectives for the ETH Domain (formerly known as “performance mandate“) are derived. The basis for this is provided by the Dispatch on the Promotion of Education, Research and Innovation (ERI Dispatch).

In the ERI Dispatch, the Federal Council formulates the guidelines, objectives and measures of its policy on education and science for a four-year period. In order to fulfil the set objectives, the corresponding funding is also addressed.

The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) oversees the preparation of the ERI Dispatch; the domains which it affects (ETH Domain, universities, universities of applied sciences, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Commission for Technology and Innovation, etc.) are closely involved in its preparation (cf. State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation). Here, the ETH Board incorporates the strategic planning for the ETH Domain.

The Federal Council's strategic objectives for the ETH Domain

In the ERI Dispatch, the Federal Council defines strategic objectives (which were referred to until 2016 as the “performance mandate“) for the ETH Domain for four years at a time. In addition, the Federal Parliament approves a budgetary framework for the ETH Domain’s operations and investments. On this basis, the ETH Board directs ETH Zurich, EPFL and the four research institutes PSI, WSL, Empa and Eawag. It enters into a target agreement with each institution.

Federal budgetary framework for the ETH Domain 2017–2020

In the 2017–2020 performance period, the budgetary framework approved by the Federal Assembly for the ETH Domain amounts to CHF 10,337.7 m.

Federal objectives for the ETH Domain as per the 2017–2020 strategic objectives

The Federal Council’s strategic objectives for the ETH Domain for the 2017–2020 period build on the previous “performance mandates” (as they were referred to until 2016) and the experience gained from them. The most significant challenges for the ETH Domain are rising student numbers, withstanding global competition and the possibility of taking part without restrictions in international cooperation projects plus the funding, operation and further development of research infrastructure.

In the 2017–2020 performance period, the ETH Board will be pursuing the following objectives (among others) requested by the Federal Council and approved by the Federal Parliament, for the performance of its core tasks of teaching, research and knowledge and technology transfer (KTT):

  • The ETH Domain provides research-based teaching which is top-class and attractive for students in an international comparison. It will further extend its globally leading position in research and define focal points in specific areas.
  • It operates and develops large-scale research facilities of national and international significance.
  • It promotes the transfer of its findings and competencies to society and to the economy. The ETH Domain is continuing to expand its position as a key academic partner to companies and public administration. It is actively involved in the continuing design and implementation of the Swiss innovation park strategy.
  • It is actively involved in structuring the “higher education area Switzerland“ project and is further expanding cooperation and networking with the world’s leading institutions, thus strengthening its international reputation.
  • The ETH Domain creates working conditions which are attractive and family-friendly in an international comparison, promotes equality of opportunity and fosters the next generation of scientists.

Furthermore, the Federal Council and parliament have instructed the ETH Board to coordinate the management of land and buildings and to ensure the preservation of their value and utility, to extend the ETH Domain’s funding basis and to allocate the resources to the institutions with due regard to its strategic objectives, to academic performance and to the load factors arising for the institutions on account of their core tasks. The ETH Board, together with the ETH Domain institutions, has also defined four strategic focus areas for research: Advanced Manufacturing, Personalised health and related technologies, Data sciences and Energy.