EAER - Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research of the Swiss Confederation

05/23/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/23/2024 08:17

Proposal for limit on admissions of students with foreign educational qualifications at EPFL

Board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology

Berne/Zurich, 23.05.2024 - At its meeting on 22-23 May 2024, the ETH Board initiated a consultation with federal offices and an internal hearing within the ETH Domain on the proposed introduction of a limit on admissions for students with foreign educational qualifications at EPFL. It also took note of the reports by the institutions of the ETH Domain on the measures to promote equal opportunities, and expressed its satisfaction with the progress made in their implementation. The ETH Board also made a number of appointments, including Walter Thurnherr as Professor of Practice at ETH Zurich.

In view of the continuing increase in the number of students, the Direction of EPFL has identified a capacity shortfall with a significant risk to the quality of teaching at EPFL. For this reason, it is submitting a proposal to the ETH Board for a limit on admissions of students with foreign educational qualifications. EPFL informed the public of this at the beginning of the year and held an internal hearing at the university, the results of which reinforced the Direction's intentions. The ETH Board is now initiating a consultation with federal offices and an internal hearing within the ETH Domain. The ETH Board is expected to make a final decision in the second half of the year.

Measures to promote equal opportunities

As part of the ETH Board's gender strategy, the institutions of the ETH Domain are responsible for implementing measures adapted to their respective situation. Altogether in 2023, the institutions spent around CHF 23 million on implementing gender equality, for measures to increase the number of women in teaching and research, and for working conditions that help to create a good balance in all areas of life (including the provision of childcare facilities). The proportion of women in management positions and newly appointed professorships has increased in the past few years. The institutions have held equality awareness campaigns and enhanced the career guidance measures for women at all levels. The institutions of the ETH Domain also offer coaching and mentoring opportunities for female students and young scientists to support them in their careers.

Pierre Dillenbourg appointed as interim member of the Direction of EPFL

he ETH Board took note of the departure of Prof. Jan Hesthaven from the Direction of EPFL and thanked him for his dedication to strengthening research and teaching at EPFL with international visibility. He is leaving EPFL in order to take up his new post as President of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) at the beginning of October. Jan Hesthaven joined EPFL as a Full Professor in 2013. He is an internationally acclaimed, multi-award-winning expert in computational mathematics. From 2017 to 2020 he was Dean of the School of Basic Sciences at EPFL, and since 2021 he has served as Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The ETH Board appointed Prof. Pierre Dillenbourg as a new interim member of the Direction. He will assume this role from September to December 2024, until the end of Prof. Martin Vetterli's term of office. Pierre Dillenbourg has been Professor of Learning Technologies since 2013, and has extensive knowledge of the organisation and culture at EPFL.

Appointment of new members to the Empa Directorate

n behalf of the Director of Empa, Tanja Zimmermann, the ETH Board has appointed Dr. Nathalie Casas and, in a job-sharing arrangement, Prof. René Rossi and Prof. Manfred Heuberger as new members of the Empa Directorate. Nathalie Casas worked at the ETH spin-off Climeworks, where she was Head of Research and Development. She studied chemical and bioengineering at ETH Zurich, where she also obtained a doctorate. She is a member of the Innosuisse Innovation Council and a member of the Federal Energy Research Commission CORE.

René Rossi and Manfred Heuberger are being appointed as members of the Directorate in a job-sharing arrangement. Manfred Heuberger is Head of the Advanced Fibres laboratory, and has been at Empa since 2005. He has also been Adjunct Professor in the Department of Materials at ETH Zurich since 2021. René Rossi is Head of the Biometric Membranes and Textiles laboratory. He has been at Empa since 1992 and an Adjunct Professor at ETH Zurich since 2020. They already co-manage the Materials Meet Life department together.

Former Federal Chancellor Walter Thurnherr appointed as Professor of Practice at ETH Zurich

he ETH Board has appointed former Federal Chancellor Walter Thurnherr as Professor of Practice at ETH Zurich. During his terms of office as Federal Chancellor from 2016 to 2023, Walter Thurnherr showed a strong commitment to fostering closer dialogue between science and politics. He also played a key role in the implementation proposal for involving the scientific community during crises, which was adopted by the Federal Council. This envisages that experts are involved in scientific policy consultations via ad-hoc advisory groups. As Professor of Practice at ETH Zurich, Walter Thurnherr will offer applied courses on policy-making in Switzerland and also help to set up the planned School of Public Policy.

Address for enquiries

Gian-Andri Casutt
Head of Communication of the ETH Board
Häldeliweg 15, CH-8092 Zurich
[email protected]
+41 44 632 20 03


Board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology