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Centralised higher education to boost competitiveness

Economics Minister Pascal Couchepin called for better national coordination in the higher education sector, warning that Switzerland’s international competitiveness might otherwise suffer.

This content was published on September 17, 1999 - 12:44

Economics Minister Pascal Couchepin called for better national coordination in the higher education sector, warning that Switzerland’s international competitiveness might otherwise suffer.

Addressing staff from cantonal higher education institutions in the town of Olten, Couchepin laid out his vision for a “Higher Education Switzerland” plan, which will be discussed in greater detail at a conference in Berne later in the year.

Too many cantonal authorities are defending their small regional education hubs, the economics minister said.

While he admitted that a concentration of staff and institutions would be “painful” – an apparent reference to job losses – he maintained that only schools of a certain size would be able to provide quality training.

There are dozens of higher education colleges in Switzerland, spread out in the four Swiss language-regions and focussing on a wide range of subjects, such as business studies, technology, arts, social studies and sports.

Couchepin said that many staff at those colleges had already told him they were in favour of improved coordination.

And he added that Swiss industry would only work with institutions capable of providing top quality training.

Addressing criticism about insufficient government funding for higher education, Couchepin pointed to the fact that the government’s share had been increased by more than 10 percent to 33 percent over the past year.

He criticised some cantons for lowering their own contributions in light of the government’s increase.

From staff and wire reports.

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