In the Swiss higher education landscape is currently undergoing a Revolution in progress. And the secretly – to the exclusion of the Public.
The ETH Board wants to organize the subordinate research institutes of the Federal new. Two of the most prestigious institutions in Switzerland are to be placed to a new together: one for forest, snow and landscape (WSL) and that for water supply, wastewater treatment and water pollution control (Eawag). The Council decided in September, as the minutes of a meeting shows. These information are available to VIEW exclusively.
The two institutions are heavyweights. Alone in the WSL 500 people work. You are researching for the protection of our landscapes and forests. And dealing with natural hazards. As the avalanche research Institute in Davos. At Eawag 400 employees working, among others, for water protection. They found pesticides in groundwater and were therefore recently caused a stir.
Hefty accusations from the innermost circle
The communication Department of the ETH Board, the merger is justified as: they wanted To create “an Institute of world-class format”. In order to strengthen “the radiance” and the “international visibility”. But to encounter also, and especially, to “the big environmental problems of our time with answers from the top-level research”, as the speaker of the ETH-Council, Gian-Andri Casutt, says. The cooperation of the institutions should be improved.
The Power of the ETH Board
The ETH-Council is the Board of Directors of the ETH domain. This includes the two Federal institutes of technology Zurich and Lausanne (EPFL), as well as the Federal research institutes, the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Swiss Federal Institute of material testing (Empa), research Institute for forest, snow and landscape research (WSL), as well as water research Institute (Eawag). The ETH domain is allocated to the Department of economic Affairs, education and research and is primarily financed by Federal funds.
a VIEW is an anonymous Letter draws this justification into question. An Informant from the inner circle of the affected institutions believe that it is all about money. It is known that the ETH Lausanne in the expansion phase of the last years for urgent funds. “In the reorganization Points so when the Federal save,” he writes.
questions about the savings potential of the ETH-Council is left to VIEW unanswered.
The Informant criticised the timing of the reorganization. Several times had those tested already and always been rejected. Now suddenly it went very quickly: due to the interim-President of the ETH Board, Beth Krasna (66). The chemical engineer is in charge of the body since the spring. In a few months, it has the fusion-decision pushed through. Starting in February, the former rector of the University of Zurich Michael Hengartner (53) takes over her office and is presented with a fait accompli.
Also to the strange time of the reorganization, the ETH Board took no position.
The third allegation: The ETH Council had taken by surprise the four research institutes “”. They had a say in the run up to no way. Although exactly in accordance with the Ordinance on the ETH domain duty would have been. The ETH-Council is silent on this allegation.
The last word of the policy
As it can see the concerned research institutions has? The Directorate of Eawag confirmed that they had not been consulted in advance. To not want the plans you speak but. You want to wait for the meeting with Beth Krasna next week. From the WSL, no opinion is delivered.
In the coming months, the ETH Board wants to sit with the Department heads together and plan for more. This month will be the Public informed of how the speaker is saying.
At the end of the policy, will have the last word: The newly-elected Parliament must approve the plans.