Swiss parents are not allowed to school their children at home via webcam. The Federal Supreme Court ruled that children’s social skills were not sufficiently nurtured by such an arrangement.

"/> Swiss parents are not allowed to school their children at home via webcam. The Federal Supreme Court ruled that children’s social skills were not sufficiently nurtured by such an arrangement.

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TECHNOLOGY

Top court rules against schooling via webcam

Swiss parents are not allowed to school their children at home via webcam. The Federal Supreme Court ruled that children’s social skills were not sufficiently nurtured by such an arrangement.

The court was ruling on a case involving parents living in the Zurich canton who had organized to have their four children educated by distance learning from Germany.

The children were taught by videos, webcam and prepared reading materials. The teachers were available to answer questions via telephone, e-mail or webcam.

The Zurich authorities had denied the parents permission to educate their children this way and the Federal Supreme Court, based in Lausanne, upheld that decision on Monday. It said that the distance learning did not meet the constitutional requirements to provide adequate primary education, one that gives all children the same opportunities.

According to the ruling, education is not just about the passing on of knowledge, but also plays a developmental role in cultivating children’s social skills.

This is ensured through interaction with other adults, who are responsible for discipline and are to be shown respect, as well as with other children, including those from different cultural and religious backgrounds.

The court said that distance learning only developed social skills marginally, if at all, as there was no direct interaction with the teachers.

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EDUCATION

Why ETH Zurich has been ranked the ‘best university in continental Europe’

A new international survey of universities has ranked Zurich’s Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) the highest in the world outside the US and the UK. How does this school excel?

Why ETH Zurich has been ranked the 'best university in continental Europe'
ETH's main hall. Photo by Zurich.ch

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2022 have placed ETH in the 15th place (out of 1,600 surveyed worldwide). The school dropped from the 14th-place ranking the previous year.

Universities in the United Kingdom and the United States hold all of the top rankings ahead of ETH Zurich.

But as the top 14 are not in continental Europe, this means ETH has the unofficial title of the of best in Europe.

What is ETH and what does it do?

It is a public research university focusing exclusively on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

It has a “sister” school located in Lausanne, the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), which specialises in natural sciences and engineering. 

The EPFL ranked in the 40th place in the survey.

Why has ETH scored so high in the study?

“Our strategy is derived from our federal mandate to conduct fundamental research, train specialists and transfer new knowledge to the economy and society,” said ETH President Joël Mesot.

University ranking methodology is based on scores for high-​level indicators relating to teaching, research, international perspective, and collaboration with industry.

“ETH’s overall scores show improvement in teaching, research, and publication citations”, the university’s rankings expert Paul Cross said.

However, it dropped slightly in terms of industry income and international outlook.

“Competition is fierce at the top tier of the rankings”, Cross noted. 

Here are some interesting facts about ETH:

  • It was founded in 1855 by the Swiss government to train engineers and scientists.
  • Today 18,000 students from over 100 different countries study at ETZ, 3,800 of whom are doctoral students.
  • So far, 21 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to researchers who have or had a connection with ETH Zurich.
  • While tuition in the top-ranking schools in the UK — Oxford and Cambridge — costs well over 10,000 francs each year, and in the in the US universities, such as Yale, Harvard, Stanford and Caltech, the annual tuition exceeds 50,000 a year, at ETH it is 1,460 francs.

In all, Switzerland is home to seven of the world’s top universities. Aside from ETH and EPFL, they are University of Zurich (75th place), University of Bern (101st), Universities of Basel and Geneva (103rd), University of Lausanne (176th).

Complete ranking can be seen here.

READ MORE: Why Switzerland leads the world in innovation (Partner content)

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