Times Higher Education (THE) has ranked ETH Zurich the most international university in the world. For small countries, like Switzerland and Singapore, a strong international ranking may seem inevitable, but for Switzerland it is a necessity. ETH Zurich President Lino Guzzella: ’I am pleased that ETH Zurich has achieved recognition as the most international university in the world. While such rankings are important for the university’s reputation, it is more important for ETH to prepare Switzerland for the major structural changes that technology will bring to the country. I am convinced that in a rapidly changing world, long-term competitiveness can only be assured by keeping our borders both politically and academically open.’
Why universities need to think globally
Editor of the THE World University Rankings, Phil Baty commented, ‘One of the key factors driving its world-class performance is the fact that ETH Zurich is absolutely global in its outlook. Being the world’s most international university is a great accolade, but it is not an end in and of itself - it is simply a sign of a university’s commitment to attract and nurture great academics and students from across the world.’
Internationalisation has been essential to ETH Zurich’s success. Even in 1855, the year that the university was founded, its international outlook laid the base for the modernisation of Swiss society. Today, while focused on educating Swiss students at the undergraduate level, nearly 70% of ETH Zurich’s professors and 50% of its graduate students come from outside of Switzerland. The university also maintains more than 8,000 research partners worldwide. Such collaborations in science and industry drive ground-breaking research across a broad spectrum of fields. Internationalisation not only sustains the success of the university, but it also advances society. A prime example is ETH Zurich’s Cybathlon - an international competition that brought together nearly 70 teams of scientists and researchers from 25 different countries. The competition pushed forward the development timeline for advanced assistive devices like exoskeletons, powered wheelchairs, brain-computer interfaces and several other disciplines.
Supplying a ‘knowledge economy’
One of the world’s most respected university ranking systems, THE formulates their international ranking on a combined score that includes: international staff, students, and co-authors, as well as, international reputation. Joining ETH Zurich near the top of the list are Swiss universities école Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, in second place, and University of Zurich, in 15th place. With few natural resources, Switzerland trades in a ‘knowledge economy’ where intellectual capital creates the foundation in which the country engages the world’s economies. In the information age and as we move rapidly towards the digital revolution, universities play a key role in producing the technological, scientific, and innovative capacities that feed the economies of the developed world and provide knowledge resources to support the underdeveloped world.
President Lino Guzzella emphasised the importance of internationalisation in the university‘s success: ’ETH Zurich was, is, and will remain an international and open university. We are grateful that the current THE ranking confirms what we value. Internationalisation enables ETH to prepare its graduates for global competition. Bringing the best talents from Switzerland and the world to ETH Zurich supports our goal to generate new ideas and transfer them to society.