Zurich snubs plan to let school kids sleep in

Politicians in Zurich have voted against a move that would have seen children start school half an hour later as a way of easing pressure on the city's public transport system in the morning.

Zurich snubs plan to let school kids sleep in
File photo: Dan DeLuca

Supporters of the plan also argued there were clear educational benefits for students if they started the school day later.

But the move, backed by the socialist SP party, was voted down by 107 to 63 votes with opponents lining up to criticize the proposal.

The centre-right FDP party said surveys showed students didn’t want to start school later and argued the proposed move would have cut into after-school sport and leisure activities.

The conservative BDP party also voted against the move, arguing school children need to get used to the sort of hours they will be keeping when they become employees.

The Greens weren’t on board with the plan either, arguing it wouldn’t help ease the squeeze on public transport.

In fact, the move threatened to put more pressure on Zurich’s public transport in the late afternoon, the Greens argued.

The party made the argument despite backers of the plan saying the later start to the school day would be compensated for by a shorter midday break rather than longer hours in the afternoon.

Supporters of the move had hoped to convince opposition parties of the educational benefits for children of starting school half an hour later, with one backer saying it would help “optimize biorhythms”, but the arguments fell on deaf ears.

The decision in Zurich comes in the wake of the failure of a similar initiative in the canton of St Gallen in February. Meanwhile, a survey carried out in Bern in 2015 showed 81 percent of students did not wish to start school later.

By contrast, a high school in Alsdorf in Germany has this year become the first in that country to allow pupils to decide whether to start at 8am or 9am.

The Alsdorf scheme would help combat the problem of “social jet lag” and lead to fewer sleepy students in class, one expert told Swiss daily the Tages Anzeiger.


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)