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Criticism of financing – Federal government pays too little – ETH announces austerity measures – News

  • ETH is examining cost-cutting measures, including a quota for new admissions or a hiring freeze in research.
  • According to the university, the reason is the insufficient funding from the federal government.
  • According to ETH, it is currently living on its reserves. Without countermeasures, these will be used up next year.
The picture shows the ETH building in Zurich


The ETH building in Zurich. The school criticizes what it sees as inadequate funding from the federal government.

KEYSTONE/Christian Beutler

ETH Zurich considers its funding from the federal government to be insufficient in the coming years, as it announced on Thursday at the presentation of the 2023 annual report. If the currently promised funds remain, austerity measures will likely be necessary.

Among other things, a restriction on student growth or a hiring freeze in research and teaching are being examined. Closing entire research areas and study programs is also mentioned as a possible measure.

Surplus: 50 million francs

Last year, ETH Zurich was already faced with major financial challenges. The number of students continued to rise sharply, inflation was not being compensated for by the ETH area and the federal government’s savings requirements were an additional burden.

Only thanks to cost discipline, a positive development in donations and a positive financial result did the bottom line still result in a surplus of 50 million francs (previous year: -73 million francs).

However, according to the announcement, ETH Zurich’s liquidity has continuously decreased since 2020. The liquidity requirements for investments and operations could not be fully covered by federal contributions and other income.

Twice as many students, only half as much additional money

“We are currently living on the freely available reserves, which will be completely used up at the end of 2025,” Stefan Spiegel, Vice President of Finance and Controlling, is quoted as saying. However, ETH absolutely needs reserves in order to be able to handle larger investments in the future and compensate for fluctuations.

While the number of students at ETH Zurich has more than doubled in the past 20 years, the federal government’s financial contribution has only increased by around 50 percent. According to those responsible at ETH, the federal government’s message to promote education, research and innovation (BFI message) for the years 2025-2028 will further exacerbate the situation.

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