Reports exonerate ETH Zurich over allegations 

ETH Zurich's main building © Keystone / Walter Bieri

Switzerland’s top-ranked Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich has been cleared of accusations concerning governance, funding and gender bias by two external investigations. 

This content was published on July 12, 2019 - 09:49
Keystone-SDA/ETH Board/

In March, the ETH Board, which oversees both the ETH ZurichExternal link and its sister institution in Lausanne, the EPFL, commissioned an external report after allegations of corruption made in the media by a female professor. The ETH Zurich had denied the corruption allegations. 

The professor’s comments came after the ETH Zurich’s move to dismiss another female professorExternal link over allegations of bullying.  

In a statementExternal link on Thursday evening, the ETH Board said the external report, by the Swiss auditing, accounting and consulting company BDO, found that in the ETH Zurich’s Department of Physics, “the rules governing the allocation of funds are complied with and that the funds are allocated in a lawful, appropriate and sufficiently transparent manner, that there is no discrimination regarding the appointment of leading functionaries and that there are no indications of corruption and of abuse of office and power at ETH Zurich”. 

The reportExternal link made some recommendations for improvements in the processes for fund allocation and top appointments. 

An additional investigationExternal link was carried out by the Swiss Federal Audit Office (SFAO)External link at two ETH Zurich departments and two EPFL faculties. It concluded that there was “no systematic discrimination on the basis of gender but suggests reinforced measures to promote transparency”, the statement said. The ETH Board said it supported this recommendation. 

ETH Zurich President Joël Mesot told Keystone-SDA that he welcomed the findings of both reports. The allegations made in March had thus been rebutted, he said. He said that both reports contained valuable suggestions for additional improvements, which “we gladly accept. Some of them are already being put into action”. 

The ETH Zurich is Switzerland’s top-ranked university and one of the best in the world, as recently seen in the QS university rankings which placed it sixth, moving ahead of Britain’s Cambridge.  

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