ETH: Polytechnikum

Hey over there,

So during the trip we will be visiting a series of universities in order to see the commonalities and differences between Swiss and American university/higher education methods and implementation. The first one I will cover is ETH, which was one of the two universities we visited on the second day of the trip.

Some fast facts about ETH include:

It was founded in 1885 and now has 10,000 employees, 20,000 students of which 4000 are doctoral students. There are 500 professors and the school claims 21 Nobel Laureates.

There are two main campuses, Zentrium, which is in the city and Honggerberg (science city) a few minute tram ride from the first campus out of the city.

ETH is a federal university meaning that it does not receive as much of its funding from he cantons, but rather directly from the central government. ETH serves the area as a innovative force aiding the industry with products and services, that the school is “a solid scientific education combined with practice”.

There are methods of support for international students such as help with registration, immigration, housing and forums from a welcome Center through the university. The work conditions, working environment and personnel have a high standard of living, but are asked to have exceptional social skills and respect for others.

ETH is a polytechnic institute that is more limited in scope and more heavily shifted towards doctoral students than Virginia Tech. This limitation in scope is mainly due to the faculty (department) split between it and its neighbor, University of Zurich.

This and other universities are designed to teach the ability to think to its students. To be critical un understanding material and the implications that each provide. This one thing is what I admire most in the Swiss system is that there is an incredible amount of professionalism that goes into not only the work done by the students but also the dedication of the professors and academic staff. This consistent level of professionalism is transferred to the students and then results in both vocational and university schools both being of equal prestige.

I feel that this is something that we should take into greater consideration in the United States. We have not only a inconsistent level of professionalism across different professionals, but more importantly a lack of appreciation for those in every profession. This is then tied to the method of pay and amount of support and pay everyone receives. But that is a conversation for later.




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