Around 400 top university officials from across Europe are gathering in Zurich for a major conference. European research collaboration and funding will be hot topics.
The University of Zurich (UZH)external link is hosting the European University Association’s annual meetingexternal link, the main part of which starts on Thursday. The EUA is Europe’s the largest association of universities, with 850 members, of which 18 are Swissexternal link.
“It is an honour for UZH to be hosting this major international university conference for the first time,” said UZH president Michael Hengartner, who is also president of the umbrella organisation swissuniversitiesexternal link.
The event is being held under the title “Engaged and responsible universities shaping Europe”.
Hengartner said in a statementexternal link that it was a good time for UZH to host the conference, as the framework is currently being negotiated for the follow-on to Horizon 2020external link, the European Union research fund programme.
Switzerland was partially frozen out of Horizon 2020 following the February 2014 vote on immigration restrictions. It regained access to Horizon 2020external link in 2017 after having ratified the free movement of people accord with Croatia.
Hengartner said Swiss universities had been successful players in “the champions league of European research and innovation” for many years and needed to make the most of this. The conference would allow Swiss institutions to network and hold discussions on the future of the European research and education landscape, he said.
Switzerland is known for the quality of its higher education and its universities, especially its federal institutes of technology, regularly come high in international rankings. A Swiss think-tank however recently recommended that Swiss universities should become more efficient to continue to compete internationally.