ERI Dispatch 2025–2028: insufficient funding for the ETH Domain

The ETH Domain depends on adequate, stable funding from the Confederation if it is to fulfil its role in driving innovation for Switzerland and educating urgently needed specialists. The financial resources allocated to the ETH Domain in the ERI Dispatch are not sufficient to achieve this, as the ETH Board makes clear in its position statement on the ERI Dispatch 2025–2028.
In order to fulfil its role in educating urgently needed specialists for the Swiss economy, the ETH Domain depends on adequate, stable funding from the Confederation. (Photo: ETH Zurich / Alessandro Della Bella)

Switzerland’s prosperity and success are based on our excellent education system and our strength as a centre for research and innovation. The ETH Domain plays a crucial role in this. It is the view of the ETH Board that real annual growth of 2.5% needs to be specified in the ERI Dispatch 2025–2028 if the ETH Domain is to continue to carry out its many and varied tasks, which not only benefit Switzerland’s economy and society but also provide the nation with comprehensive support in solving future challenges, such as the energy transition, digitalisation and cybersecurity.

However, the ERI Dispatch draft allows the ETH Domain nominal growth of just 1.6% annually. Inflation forecasts indicate there is reason to fear that the result will be zero or negative growth in real terms, harming not only the ETH Domain, but also the entire country as a centre for business and innovation. Switzerland risks losing its lead over other nations, especially since the ETH Domain is threatened with budgetary reductions of more than CHF 80 million per year from 2024 onwards owing to the Federal Council’s cutbacks. Given that 2024 is the reference year for growth calculations in the ERI Dispatch, the cuts in 2024 will lead to income being lost throughout the entire ERI period 2025–2028.

Artificial intelligence: a national initiative is required

In its position statement on the ERI Dispatch 2025–2028, the ETH Board also notes that Switzerland needs to pool its strengths in the area of artificial intelligence (AI) and provide the necessary infrastructure for research, teaching, and the transfer of knowledge and technology. This will enhance the nation’s competitiveness and enable it to maintain its position in terms of research, thus also benefiting society and the economy. The ETH Board is requesting the Federal Council to compose a special dispatch on AI and allocate the requisite funding, thus enabling the Swiss higher education and research landscape to cooperate with industry and society in performing the work that is urgently needed in the area of AI. The ETH Domain has an interest in this project and is willing to play an active part in such a large-scale initiative.