Is research in Switzerland condemned to growth?

© Alain Herzog

© Alain Herzog

Is it worth it for a small country like Switzerland to lead this incessant "race for size" to remain competitive in science?

Dominique Foray describes in an article published in "La Vie Economique" the challenges for Switzerland to maintain a very high level of scientific excellence, despite its small size.


" Insofar as absolute size is decisive, small countries that aim for excellence like Switzerland or Denmark will endure a research system of disproportionate relative size compared to larger countries like Germany, France or Italy."

"To attract the best scientists, it will need to offer quality research infrastructure, generous research budgets, an efficient grant system, competitive salaries, a culture of international openness, autonomous and innovative universities, dynamic relationships with industry, students. "

"This "race for size" is reflected in particular in the uncontrolled growth of a population of postdocs and precarious scientific jobs. Every laboratory has good reasons to hire a postdoc. However, the overall size of this population far exceeds the capacity of labor markets to absorb this highly skilled workforce. "

"In the case of Switzerland, student services are sold below cost via, for example, internationally competitive university fees, and the "Swiss platform" pays a high price to recruit the best scientists."

"However, the conditions for this excellence - a disproportionate relative size and continued growth to keep from weakening - force the question of what strategic actions can keep this system firmly anchored to Swiss society and the economy. The question remains open."

Read the full article (in French or German)...