Call for Switzerland to be an open centre for knowledge
In the context of the referenda on immigration, leading proponents of Switzerland as a centre for knowledge are calling for the borders to remain open for research and education.
For Switzerland, openness and internationalism are crucial if the country is to retain its place among the top flight in the global research contest. The free movement of persons is a well-established and essential part of this. This point has been made emphatically today by representatives of Switzerland's university and research organisations in their “Manifest für einen offenen Bildungs- und Forschungsplatz Schweiz” (“Manifesto for Switzerland as an open centre for research and education”). Their move has been motivated by the forthcoming national referenda on immigration policy in 2014 and 2015.
Free movement of persons is the best way forward
In this manifesto, the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS), to which ETH Zurich President Ralph Eichler belongs, the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences (KFH) and the Swiss Conference of Rectors of Universities of Teacher Education (COHEP), along with the Academies of Arts and Sciences and the Swiss National Science Foundation, emphasise the great importance of the free movement of persons. It is, they say, the best way to bring highly skilled scientists into the country, and to give Swiss researchers and students the opportunity to study and work elsewhere in Europe without any administrative barriers. Last but not least, the free movement of persons underpins the bilateral agreements on education and research concluded with the EU.
These representatives of Switzerland as a centre of knowledge are convinced that the Swiss people will not throw away this trump card in the pursuit of a successful, knowledge-based society and economy. For the members of CRUS, the bilateral relationships with the European Union have been a real success story. "We benefit enormously from the Framework Programmes for Research, in which we are fully involved", says Ralph Eichler, Vice-President of CRUS and President of ETH Zurich, in the latest CRUS newsletter. He reminds readers that, for every franc contributed to those programmes, Swiss research groups receive 1.5 francs of funding.