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Regulator slams terms of Nestlé sponsoring deal

The Lausanne Federal Institute of Technology and its Rolex Learning Center Keystone

A sponsorship deal between the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and the food multinational Nestlé is coming under further pressure. The regulatory authorities will discuss the case shortly, but parliament refuses to legislate on the matter.

This content was published on May 17, 2014 - 16:16
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The president of the board of the Federal Institutes of Technology has criticised an agreement, revealed by the weekly Wochenzeitung ten days ago.

“Sponsors must not have a veto right for the appointment of university chairs,” Fritz Schiesser is quoted in Saturday’s Tages-Anzeiger and Der Bund newspapers.

He added that the board was not against sponsors participating in appointment committees.

According to the contract signed between Nestec – a Nestlé subsidiary – and the Lausanne institute (also known under its French acronym EPFL) in 2006, the sponsors fund two professorships and research programmes to the tune of up to CHF30 million ($36.6 million) over five years.

The head of the Lausanne institute, Patrick Aebischer, said the terms of the deal were reasonable.

Respect

The regulatory board is due to meet next week to debate the issue, but it is unlikely to decide on an extension of the deal which is due to run out next November.

A parliamentary committee on Friday came out against an involvement, referring to the autonomous status of the state-funded universities.

Student organisations called on the university management and boards to ensure that sponsors respect the independence of academic institutions.

A sponsoring deal for CHF100 million between the leading Zurich University and the UBS bank prompted a public outcry last year.

A group of university teachers launched a protest, called for strict academic independence from private sponsors.

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