Army: 80-kilometre hike ‘too much’ for pupils

A secondary school teacher who intends to take his 15-year-old pupils on an 80-kilometre walk through the night has been warned against the idea by the Swiss army.

Army: 80-kilometre hike 'too much' for pupils
At 80 kilometres, the walk is 30 kilometres further than those undertaken by Swiss army recruits. Photo: Vasile Cotovanu

Rico Diethelm, a teacher at a school in Neunkirch, in the canton of Schaffhausen, is planning to take his students on a hike along the Rhine from Rheinfelden back to Neunkirch starting this Thursday night, according to local newspaper Schaffhauser Nachrichten.

The students, who have been in training since the spring, will walk without taking a break for sleep, with the aim of completing the distance in 24 hours.

Speaking to newspaper 20 Minuten, Diethelm said:  “The aim of the project is to show the students what happens when you reach your limits. When I first told them about it they thought it was a joke.”

At 80 kilometres, the walk is 30 kilometres further than the longest hike imposed on trainee recruits in the Swiss army.

Christoph Brunner, a spokesman for the army, has advised against the walk.

“It’s too much to ask of 15-year-olds,” he told 20 Minuten, adding that it was unlikely the students would finish without being in considerable pain.

But teacher Diethelm disagrees.

“You can’t compare this situation to the army. My students can stop whenever they like. If they can’t carry on, it doesn’t matter and I won’t force them to continue. It’s not military training.”

A number of parents will be on hand during the course of the walk to step in should any student wish to drop out.

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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

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)