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EuroScholars News

University in the Spotlight: University of Zurich


  • Located in the heart of Europe, the University of Zurich (UZH) was the first European university to be established by a democratic political system. In its founding year 1833, 16 theology students, 26 law students, 98 medical students, and 21 arts students enrolled in the University.
  • 180 years later, UZH is Switzerland’s largest university, with seven faculties and a current enrollment of over 26,000 students.
  • UZH is one of Europe's most prestigious research institutions. The University conducts world-class research, and its excellent reputation is mirrored in top international standings in both overall university rankings and in rankings that rate according to discipline.
  • UZH is the leading house for six National Centers of Competence in Research (NCCR) and has established twelve University Research Priority Programs (URPP) in order to strengthen its position in strategically important fields of study.
  • The University's international reputation is highlighted in various fields, including medicine. UZH’s Faculty of Medicine occupies a top international position in teaching and research. Active promotion of junior academics in research, education and advanced training as well as excellence in medicine are the standards by which the Faculty of Medicine measures its performance.
  • UZH has a modern infrastructure, with generously equipped laboratories and an extensive, well-organized library network. The library at the Institute of law, designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is an architectural gem that contains some 170,000 books and nearly 700 journals. The main library in the heart of Zurich’s old town compiles academic literature on all subjects taught at UZH. It has over five million documents and more than half a million visitors per year.
  • Students at UZH can take advantage of an extraordinarily wide range of sporting and leisure activities. The Academic Sports Association (ASVZ) offers over 120 kinds of sports, from African dance to yoga. It also includes attractive courses such as sailing on the Lake of Zurich or hiking in the Swiss mountains.

For additional information, please visit the EuroScholars website

Eight New University Research Priority Programs (URPP) in 2013

In 2013, the University of Zurich launched eight new University Research Priority Programs (URPP). Rooted in the University’s official policy to strengthen scholarship, the URPP create and promote academic networks in selected areas of research. The interdisciplinary programs build on research expertise already present at the University and are instrumental in promoting the academic career of junior scholars.

One of the newly established URPP: Dynamics of Healthy Aging

Exploring the potential of an aging society will prove vitally important in the coming years. Taking neurophysiological, neuroanatomical, psychological and medical foundations for the maintenance of health and quality of life into consideration, the URPP Dynamics of Healthy Aging examines how psychological health and the quality of life can be stabilized at low, intermediate, and high levels of functioning from middle adulthood to advanced old age. The goal of the URPP is to gain better understanding of the dynamic processes that contribute to the maintenance and promotion of vital longevity through application-oriented, participatory and translational research.

National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR): Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century

Switzerland’s direct democracy and multi-level-governance are major factors for both Switzerland’s global image and its national identity. Unsurprisingly, Switzerland’s largest university offers an excellent place to continually reflect upon and re-negotiate the rules of democracy: UZH is home institution to the NCCR Democracy, a multidisciplinary research program launched by the Swiss National Science Foundation in 2005, established to explore democracy in all its facets.

Researchers at the NCCR Democracy examine the key challenges to democracy today, tracing them to two major trends: globalization and the growing influence of the media in politics. The NCCR’s principal aim is to propose ways to improve the quality of democracy and political decision-making processes. The NCCR Democracy represents an unprecedented interdisciplinary alliance in Europe: staffed with 90 persons, integrative research in carried out in disciplines such as political science, media and communication sciences, economics, sociology, philosophy, and social geography.

Academic Sports Association Zurich (ASVZ)

The Academic Sports Association Zurich (ASVZ) is a non-profit organization run jointly by ETH Zürich, UZH and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. ASVZ provides a sports program to all registered students (including visiting students), employees and alumni. The ASVZ program contains an extremely varied range of courses with over 120 kinds of sports. Training sessions, courses and camps are prepared and supervised by a team of qualified sports coaches, and 900 professional instructors are responsible for carrying them out. Fitness enthusiasts can exercise individually in four fully equipped sport centers, where popular classes – with names like Body Attack – also take place.

From an Alumna

Anne Patterson, Iowa State University, Leiden University

I chose to study abroad in the Netherlands because Leiden University had the research project I was looking for. I’m not really sure what I was expecting as I didn’t know much about the Netherlands, but I ended up loving the culture and felt very at home there.

I met locals through my research program mostly through the University. I got lucky and there were a lot of other local students my age working so I met a lot of people that way. My partner on the project was actually a Dutch student and we grew pretty close during my time. We still keep in contact on a regular basis and plan on meeting up again sometime in the future, hopefully somewhere in the US.

I networked with a lot of people while abroad and I think those connections will probably be useful in the future. But mostly I think the confidence in my own abilities was the most useful trait I gained from this experience. Any future work or traveling I do will be a lot easier now that I’ve done probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I learned how to get along with people from different backgrounds and cultures, and that is a universal skill that will get me some points with future employers. Euroscholars is a great program, and I hope that more and more students participate each year as the word spreads around. I was the first person to participate in this program from my university, and while that seemed daunting, I have no regrets and have been encouraging others from my school to pursue this opportunity.

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Pictures from the University of Zurich

The Atrium of the Main Building of the University of Zurich           (© UZH, Frank Brüderli)

The Institute of Law library by architect Santiago Calatrava     (© UZH, Frank Brüderli)

Sailing on the Lake of Zurich    (© ASVZ, Kurt Dätwyler) 

Upcoming Conferences

  • EAIE: September 10 - 13, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey Some of the members of the EuroScholars Consortium will be attending. To schedule a meeting, please email Ms. Usha Mohunlol. EuroScholars is also holding a session: Undergraduate Research is the "New Normal" in Study Abroad on Thursday, September 12 from 9:00 - 10:15 am.
  • NCHC: November 6 - 10, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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