Reading list - Swiss rolled by OECD

01 Feb 2007 | News
A new report from the OECD makes uncomfortable reading for anyone in Switzerland involved in educational R&D.

"Most researchers enjoy a comfortable professional position with little pressure to compete for funding, limiting opportunities for new researchers and incentives for innovative research. Moreover, compared to other OECD countries reviewed, the overall level of investment in educational R&D in Switzerland is low, the review notes. More quantitative empirical studies, a harmonisation of indicators and datasets, better funding mechanisms, and a sharing of expertise with international specialists would help to improve the quality of research, the review suggests."
Not what you would call a glowing endorsement. It comes in the announcement of an OECD report  National Review of Educational R&D – Switzerland.
Fortunately, the country's performance in science and engineering comes in for a general endorsement. "The country is well known for its outstanding position in knowledge-intensive industries, attracting many foreign people trained in science and engineering," says the report. It goes on to say that "the role played by the higher education sector in R&D is outstanding".
Hang on, though, there are problems here too. Swiss academics seem to achieve this despite the fact that "The level of the government’s direct involvement in R&D funding is extremely low compared with other countries with an equivalent performance, since private firms directly finance much of the R&D activity. More than two thirds of the R&D spending are provided by the private sector."
The problem here is that "most of the private funds flow abroad. Only about 7% of these funds are directed to Swiss universities."

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