Swiss knowledge society

In Switzerland, research and innovation are a federal responsibility, while education is in the responsibility of the cantons and the federal level. The federal funding and policy for education, research and innovation is defined in so called Education, Research and Innovation (ERI) Dispatches every four years.

All Swiss ERI institutions share the following three values and principles:

1.    ensure autonomy of higher education institutions and researchers;

2.    foster competition and quality when allocating public funds;

3.    encourage openness towards the world.

The following particularities describe the Swiss education, research and innovation landscape:

  • Knowledge (i.e. educationresearch and innovation) is at the core of modernity as laid down in the constitution from 1848 together with academic freedom.
  • The investments into knowledge have grown steadily as of the mid-nineteenth century and are high in international comparison, particularly through a substantial investment from the private sector.
  • Public funds are exclusively invested into publicly oriented knowledge, never into private.
  • The Swiss society and government respect institutional autonomy and do not focus on politically programmed knowledge production.
  • Switzerland allows for only few higher education students and highly esteems (dual) Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Professional Education and Training (PET).


The Swiss knowledge society is strongly embedded within the Europe of knowledge. Switzerland is:

  • founding member of the Council of Europe in 1949;
  • host and founding member of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) since 1954;
  • founding member of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) in 1970;
  • founding member of the European Space Agency  (ESA) in 1975;
  • individual and institutional participating in the European Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development (EU FP) since 1987 (i.e. FP2);
  • individual and institutional participating in Erasmus from 1992-2014;
  • full associated to the EU FP since 2004 (i.e. FP6);
  • full associated to the Lifelong Learning Programme since 2011.