Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Switzerland and around the world are increasingly engaged in international collaboration. While this offers them unique opportunities to broaden their reach, address pressing global issues and offer their students and staff international opportunities, it also calls for greater awareness and responsibility of all stakeholders involved. They share the need and the responsibility to assess each potential collaboration in the face of values such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy, ethical and legal aspects as well as benefits and limits of knowledge transfer.
Over recent years, HEIs in Switzerland and the Swiss research community at large have gathered a wealth of experience in international collaborations through joint research or education programmes, knowledge transfer with the private sector, the exchange of students, faculty and staff, and other forms of partner- ships.
Swiss HEIs and their respective communities are diverse and unique, which translates into specific needs and interests. Nevertheless, they share the need and the responsibility to assess each potential collabora- tion in the face of values such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy, ethical and legal aspects as well as benefits and limits of knowledge transfer. Resulting from a discussion within swissuniversities, the umbrella organisation of the Swiss HEIs, the present guide draws on existing guidelines and addresses issues of shared concern.
The purpose of this guide is to support Swiss HEIs, their decision makers and their academic communities – faculty members, researchers, students, technical and administrative staff – to:
- assess the benefits, challenges and risks associated with international collaboration,
- use existing resources and learn from successful practices, and
- promote greater consistency across HEIs in Switzerland.
The document is intended as a tool for reflection and discussion. It proposes dimensions and issues to consider when planning, preparing, conducting, evaluating or consolidating collaborative activities with academic or private partners in an international context.
Autonomy and institutional responsibility
Within their autonomy Swiss HEIs and their respective communities are responsible for their own activi- ties. This guide does not place additional compliance or regulatory burdens on the institutions. The guide is non-exhaustive and offers a complement to the respective policies and regulations of individual institu- tions.
A practical guide
The guide explores four dimensions to be considered in international collaborations. Each chapter is struc- tured with a general description, practical questions, and additional resources available. The questions and resources in each sub-section do not claim to be exhaustive. They are meant as starting points rather than checklists for shaping the type, nature and implications of an international partnership.