Education and research: twenty years of steady increase


Institutional Communication Service

23 April 2016

Since 1996, USI has experienced a rapid and constant growth both in the field of education and research. It is a clear sign of the appeal and of the quality of USI’s vision and of the people involved. The number of students has increased tenfold since the 300 freshmen in 1996 and the demographics have become more international with a growing number of students hailing from Italy.

After an initial increment, the number of students from other parts of Switzerland has dropped progressively, while the students from Ticino has grown in number over time. On both Lugano and Mendrisio campuses one can meet students hailing from more than 100 countries that make up 20% of the student’s population. USI was in fact conceived as an ambassador of the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland in the world. The growing number of students from Italy (now 45%) can be ascribed to the common language (Italian) and the location of Canton Ticino, which is naturally inserted in the wide Lombardy basin that was recently faced with difficulties concerning also their university system. About half of the Italian students come from outside Lombardy. The small presence of students from the rest of Switzerland (7%) is an issue that needs to be tackled, though to be realistic, the other excellent universities from across the Alps are strong competition. Several universities have also started offering courses that were initially given at USI and that defined our character. 25% of the students are from Ticino, which shows that the Canton’s population trusts USI and its academic offer. On the other hand, a significant number of students are still enrolling in other Swiss universities, chasing away any initial fear that USI might provincialise Ticino’s youth.

USI researchers have been awarded 190 million CHF in funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation and the European Union since USI’s research started bearing fruit in the year 2000. Given the direct competition with other universities and international research centres, this figure is a fine indicator of USI good standings.

The advancement of research has undergone several changes over the years just like education. As shown by the chart below (bottom right), which describes the total of competitive funds awarded to the Faculties, the larger slice of the pie belongs to two entities that gradually worked their way into USI’s universe, the Faculty of Informatics and the Institute for Research in Biomedicne (IRB). This figure clearly shows the reasons behind USI’s development strategy, which identified the strong potential of these areas and the possible consequences on the territory in terms of scientific innovation. A figure which, however, should not diminish the value of the “historic” Faculties that belong to the fields of social sciences and the arts, and therefore attract less competitive, but still important funding.

The advancement in both fields of research and education derives from the passion and hard work of professors, teachers and researchers. USI has come a long way also thanks to the generosity of private sponsors who believe in our project. Without them, many scholarships, chairs, projects and campus facilities will not exist. Mentioning all of them does not even begin to make up for all the contribution and support they have given us throughout the years: Fondazione per le Facoltà di Lugano, Fondazione per la ricerca e lo sviluppo dell’USI, Fondazioni Banca del Ceresio, Corriere del Ticino, Daccò, Fidinam, Körfer, Leonardo, Maletti, Sergio Mantegazza, Sodeska, Vontobel, Winterhalter, The Gabriele Charitable Foundation, Associazione Amici dell’Accademia, Fondi di compensazione AVS, Donazione Eredi Sandra Cattaneo, Donazione Eredi Franco Olgiati, Donazione Editta Tonella, Donazioni Eredi Dionisotti, Corboz, Sansone e Braswell, Harley-Davidson Club Ticino.