Swiss higher education is facing a dearth of academics. About 40 per cent of its lecturers and researchers will retire between now and 2004, and there are not enough new academics to fill the gap, the Swiss University Conference estimates.
Many Swiss have been tempted away from academic careers by higher pay in the private sector.
Nivardo Ischi, secretary general of the conference, said: "Thirty per cent of our academics are non-Swiss and this percentage willprobably increase.
"Our salaries are good, but we have to compete with other European countries that have a similar shortage of teachers." To make matters worse, Swiss universities are having to reckon with increasingly tight budgets, so it is impossible for them to out-bid the competition.
In an effort to lure Swiss academics back home, the Sandoz Foundation has just announced it will spend SFr1 million (Pounds 400,000) a year for the next four years to pay four researchers.
This will include only universities in the French-speaking
cantons. Pierre Ducrey, former rector of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne who
is working with the Sandoz
Foundation, said he hopes "the idea will also develop in German Switzerland".