The section entitled “Starting point” consists of two elements: a review of Strategy 2021’s implementation and the identification of challenges. These challenges were identified based on the aforementioned review, a comparison of the University’s strategy with those of other national and international universities and a SWOT analysis.
A brief review of the implementation of Strategy 2021
The objective of Strategy 2021 was to consolidate the University of Bern’s academic presence and visibility and to allow the University to promote social development and face current challenges. These overarching objectives have been achieved at all levels in recent years, enabling the University of Bern to become a leading university with an outstanding international network. This is illustrated by the following achievements:
Today, the University of Bern is a member of The Guild, an association of Europe’s leading research universities. The University leads several international projects, including the drafting of the UN Sustainability Report, and is consistently named among the world’s 120 best universities in the leading university rankings – ShanghaiRanking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities, Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings – with several disciplines in the top ten.
By implementing Strategy 2021, the University of Bern successfully responded to the challenges it identified in 2013. It more than withstood rising competitive pressure in the acquisition of external funding, ultimately increasing this funding to stave off the threat of budget shortfalls. The Canton of Bern specified the financial benchmarks for the University in its performance mandate, thus providing additional planning security. This, together with equity capital, placed the University of Bern on a sound financial footing. The University achieved similar success in securing federal funding through the continuation of institutional accreditation. The University of Bern has taken multiple steps to demonstrate the importance of its activities and can confidently answer any questions about the value of its research and teaching.
Today, the University of Bern is recognized across Switzerland as a successful, credible and appealing institution that offers many high-quality education and training programs relevant to the job market. Widely recognized for its excellent research performance, the University is considered a worthwhile investment and is the undisputed academic center of the Bern region.
Strategy 2021 consisted of four sub-strategies, the implementation of which can be summarized as follows:
- The University of Bern intends to remain a comprehensive university: The comprehensive university concept has proven successful, offering the best possible research and teaching environment for addressing and responding to today’s complex issues, particularly across different disciplines.
- The University of Bern distinguishes itself by concentrating on five key areas (Sustainability; Health and Medicine; Matter and the Universe; Intercultural Knowledge; Politics and Administration): The University was able to distinguish itself further by reinforcing its strategic focus areas. For instance, in the establishment of the Wyss Academy for Nature, the development of Bern as a center of medicine, the University’s leadership of the CHEOPS mission, the international success of Bern’s edition of Alexander von Humboldt’s collected writings, and the well-received and widely used range of services provided to the public administration and policy center of Bern.
- The University of Bern is reinforcing its reputation as a teaching university: The University’s strategic direction in teaching has also proven successful. This is best demonstrated by its response to the coronavirus pandemic, when, during the spring of 2020, the University of Bern successfully moved from the classroom to online teaching in less than three days. This would not have been possible had the University not steadily improved its digital infrastructure and skills in recent years. The University’s promotion of innovative teaching methods over the last few years meant that many lecturers had already begun using online and virtual teaching tools before the coronavirus pandemic began and could quickly put their knowledge and skills to use for the benefit of their students. Likewise, as the pandemic situation improves, the University’s high-quality classroom teaching has resumed, supplemented by new online and virtual features. The University has also distinguished itself as a teaching university in the area of education for sustainable development.
- The University of Bern is characterized by ist targeted approach to early career researchers: The University of Bern’s new concept for the promotion of early career researchers is an exemplary and pioneering way to distinguish itself as a high-caliber institution for academic training.
Based on a SWOT analysis, benchmarking against other national and international universities and a review of the implementation of Strategy 2021, the University has identified the following challenges, presented here in no particular order:
- Maintain its status as a comprehensive university while enabling thematic changes within various academic fields and continuing to develop key focus areas.
- Achieve and communicate excellent research performance across all faculties as well as interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary strategic centers.
- Carry out interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work across different faculties.
- Acquire competitive external funding while maintaining freedom in teaching and research.
- Provide excellent, innovative and relevant teaching for the benefit of a wide range of stakeholders at all levels.
- Promote early career researchers in a transparent, structured and high-quality way to create a center for talent from around the world and provide excellent preparation for internationally competitive academic careers.
- Design and implement the University’s digital transformation with the focus “People in Digital Transformation”.
- Promote, achieve and manage diversity in all areas (particularly with regard to equal opportunities, issues, employees and methods).
- Ensure ecological, social, economic and cultural sustainability in research, teaching and operational implementation.
- Optimize the University’s international positioning and perception.
- Exploit synergies and ensure that they can be transferred and translated in collaboration with other research institutions and the political and business worlds.
- Simplify structures and processes and make them more dynamic.
- Provide modern infrastructure geared towards the needs of stakeholders.