Published: 07.12.12

Steps to reinforce teaching competence

The ETH Board has accepted the proposal submitted by ETH Zurich and EPFL to introduce a gradual, socially-conscious increase in tuition fees. Both institutions have been asked to find common solutions to this issue in close collaboration with their student associations.

Thomas Langholz
The supplemental funds would be exclusively used to improve teaching quality. (Picture: Thomas Langholz/ETH Zurich)
The supplemental funds would be exclusively used to improve teaching quality. (Picture: Thomas Langholz/ETH Zurich) (large view)

Student numbers at ETH Zurich and EPFL have steadily increased over the past few years. This trend is expected to continue well into 2018, according to the Federal Statistical Office. The Federation’s funding contribution, however, has not kept pace with this trend. Faced with this predicament and committed to maintaining outstanding teaching standards, the ETH Board, in an announcement made yesterday, approved the notion of a step-by-step rise in tuition fees. In doing so, the board accepted the joint recommendation of ETH Zurich and EPFL to raise the annual tuition fee to CHF 2,500. This increase is to be phased in over a period of three years.

Close consultations

The ETH Board is in agreement with the proposal submitted by the student associations and university assemblies for an even greater involvement in assessing the implications of these fee increases. The current plan foresees two thirds of the funds dedicated to academic quality assurance and one third to financial support schemes. The directors of ETH Zurich and EPFL were ordered to pursue dialogue with both academic bodies and fine-tune how these additional funds will be used.

Leaning on the results of this initial review process, the ETH Board will convene a hearing with the ETH Domain in the spring of 2013 and also consult with the federal offices. Higher tuition fees will apply at the earliest starting autumn semester 2015/16. The focus of both schools in doubling their tuition fees is to safeguard and enhance their teaching environment.

Previous dialogue with students

“We intentionally involved the student associations at an early stage in this fee increase discussion, and we intend to continue our dialogue with them,” said Ralph Eichler, president of ETH. Mr. Eichler had already underscored the importance of high teaching standards at a panel discussion held in late November, where representatives from the school’s management and the student body had voiced their respective opinions.
Eichler said: “By accepting a gradual increase in tuition fees, students would contribute substantially to the preservation of ETH Zurich’s high teaching standards.”

The school’s management assured the students that “the supplemental funds would be exclusively used to improve teaching quality and academic standards, as well as for financial support schemes.” In this context, additional assistant positions were planned as well as an expansion of scholarship funding.

Prior to the ETH Board meeting on 5/6 December, and at the initiative of the ETH (VSETH) Student Association, students had demonstrated in the city centre and on Hönggerberg, voicing their concerns and demands.