Swiss universities slip in global ranking

The federal institute of technology ETH Zurich. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

The federal technology institute ETH Zurich is the best non-English-speaking university in the world, according to this year’s QS ranking. Overall, however, Swiss unis lost ground.

This content was published on June 9, 2022 - 11:24

ETH Zurich remains the top university in continental Europe and the only non-US and non-UK entrant in the top ten, wroteExternal link the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) research group on Wednesday. However, it dropped from eighth place last year to ninth. Two years ago it had been ranked sixth.

The losing of ground was also seen in most other Swiss universities in the 1,400-strong ranking. The Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) fell from 14th to 16th, the University of Zurich from 70th to 83rd, the University of Geneva from 105th to 125th and the University of Bern from 119th to 120th. Basel bucked the trend, climbing from 138th to 136th.

Globally, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) headed the list for the 11th year in a row, followed by Cambridge and Stanford.


The ranking, one of several big international education comparisons, draws up its list based on indicators including academic and employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, research citations, and international profile.

Among the top Swiss institutions, while ETH Zurich and EPFL score highly on citations, international character and reputation, the University of Zurich performs best on faculty/student ratio. However, nine of the 10 Swiss universities in the ranking fell heavily last year on the “employer reputation” scale – an assessment of “how institutions prepare students for successful careers, and which institutions provide the most competent, innovative, and effective graduates”, QS writes.

ETH Zurich President Joël Mesot said in a statementExternal link on Wednesday that he was proud of the university’s consistently high score, despite the “growing competition” around the world. He added, however, that he was worried about the impact on higher education of the war in Ukraine, the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and Switzerland’s non-association to the European Union’s Horizon Europe research programme.

Last year, after Switzerland walked out on negotiations on an over-arching framework agreement with Brussels, the EU downgraded Switzerland’s status in Horizon to that of a non-associated third country member. While the Swiss government has pledged to make up funding shortfalls, many academics are worried about the longer-term effects for research in Switzerland.

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