The government's advisory body on science and education has called for a dramatic increase in research funding if Switzerland is to remain a competitor on the world stage.
The Swiss Science and Technology Council wants the science budget for 2004-2007 to be increased by ten per cent every year. This would mean increasing the total from SFr3 billion to SFr4.5 billion.
In a manifesto, issued in Bern on Wednesday, signed by more than 50 personalities from the worlds of science, business and the arts, the council called for more money and a higher priority for research.
"We want to alert the public to the fact that education and research are a main basis of Switzerland's wealth and that this main basis is eroding fast and has reached a critical state, which we can no longer keep silent about," the council's president, Professor Gottfried Schatz, told swissinfo.
The manifesto also called on universities to speed up the reforms they are currently undertaking. And it appealed to scientists to remember their obligation to society and help solve its problems.
The government is currently deciding the science budget for 2004-2007. "The science budgets have to be readjusted right now to redress the constant erosion and make Switzerland fully competitive in world science," said Schatz.
"Switzerland used to rank among the nations with the highest science budgets in the order of 2.7 per cent of GNP. This budget has stayed constant for the last decade and hasn't even been adjusted for inflation whereas some of the other players in science, particularly small countries of comparable stature like Finland or Sweden, have massively increased their research and science budgets during the past years.
"It takes more to compete today than it did ten years ago so Switzerland has rested on its laurels for too long."
by Vanessa Mock and Vincent Landon
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