Swiss polys face overhaul

August 2, 2002

Switzerland's seven polytechnics are to overhaul their management goals and focus on national rather than regional concerns following a government review.

The polytechnics offer 220 technical and vocationally oriented courses that are vital to the Swiss economy, according to a peer review of their effectiveness.

The federal office for professional education and technology asked the federal commission on polytechnics to submit a report this year. Rolf Dubs, academic director of the Swiss Peer Review, said that the overall assessment was positive, although there was a need for further development in applied research.

"More than half of the 220 courses offered by the polytechnics were rated as good to very good," he said. But most of the colleges suffered from unwieldy bureaucracy, and the question of better strategic management on a national basis was going to be the focus of future changes. Equally important was the need to formulate a plan that would equip polytechnics for the Bologna process of convergence across Europe.

Margaret Stamm, who wrote the report, also recommended a reduction in the number of courses on offer, accompanied by a strategy that would bring institutional research interests into alignment and lead to the consolidation of managerial goals.

Dr Stamm suggested that polytechnics' diplomas should have equal status with university degrees to enhance their ability to recruit new academic staff, especially in IT and new technologies.

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