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QS World University Rankings 2021: Q&A with ETH Zurich

QS World University Rankings 2021: Q&A with ETH Zurich main image

The top ranked university in Switzerland in the QS World University Rankings, ETH Zurich also has the honor of being the only non-UK or US based institutions to feature in the global top 10, placing at sixth in the world. It also achieves impressive scores in the ranking indicators, placing 19th in the world for academic reputation, 26th for employer reputation, 16th for citations per faculty and 19th for international faculty. Zurich itself is a fantastic city for students, ranked eighth in the QS Best Student Cities ranking. 

So, what makes ETH Zurich such a world-beating university? We spoke to ETH Zurich’s President Joël Mesot to find out more… 

What sets you apart from the universities you consider to be your competitors?

Talent. The Swiss mindset is based on hard work and a tradition of excellence that reflects the high standards that our students achieve. This is also one reason that ETH Zurich is a magnet for highly qualified professors from all over the world ensuring our consistent international orientation.

Academic freedom. The Swiss value education and public funding, supplemented by increasing private donations, which enables scientists to explore the limits of knowledge, carry out ground-breaking research, and contribute innovative solutions that benefit society.

A reliable political and social framework combined with a wonderful location and campus provides the ideal backdrop for a high quality of life.

How important are international students to you as a university?

Openness is a key to our success. Particularly at the master’s and doctoral levels, we attract and educate students from around the world. Currently, we have students from 126 different countries. This convergence of cultures enables our students and professors to examine problems from diverse perspectives and to develop sustainable solutions.

How does your location contribute to student experience?

Switzerland and ETH Zurich are located in the heart of Europe; and Zurich often ranks highly for quality of life. The city boasts a wealth of historical buildings, beautifully situated in proximity to a lake and the Swiss Alps. The campus locations benefit from both historical tradition and modern lab facilities.

What role does research play in the success of your university?

Fundamental research both shapes and guides ETH Zurich’s teaching activities. In addition to cutting-edge research infrastructures, highly professional, technical, and administrative support for professorships and research institutes are essential elements.

How does your institution help prepare students for the world of employment?

World-class research is our foundation for learning. We combine it with a focus on interdisciplinarity and an entrepreneurial spirit. ETH Zurich offers an excellent support system for entering the job market. Let me illustrate this with two figures: First, ETH Zurich launched 30 spin-off companies last year alone. Second, typically within the first year following graduation, 98% of our master’s students and 97% of our doctoral students procure employment.

How can you foresee the current covid-19 pandemic affecting university life?

The experience is still too fresh to go into detail, but one thing is certain: There will be changes. The virus may be with us for a long time, so ETH Zurich and its students will draw upon their digitalization expertise and capabilities to adapt. New educational support applications and new teaching concepts have already been introduced and the student experience will certainly evolve. ETH Zurich supports its students each step of the way.

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Written by Julia Gilmore
Julia is the Assistant Editor for TopUniversities, publishing articles for students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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