The present strategy has been developed in close consultation with all stakeholders inside and outside of the university and is the result of two years of deliberation. The present strategic plan fulfils the University of Fribourg’s legal obligation under Art. 9 para. 1 of the University Act to regularly draw up a strategic plan with a planning outlook of ten years. This strategy will be augmented and/or implemented via existing or yet to be developed topic-specific strategies and policies regarding areas such as quality assurance, sustainability, libraries or multilingualism.
The three main axes
As a modern, committed and internationally networked comprehensive university, the University of Fribourg is an outstanding, interdisciplinary education and research institution in the Humboldt tradition of organically combining research and teaching and offers excellent development and career opportunities.
The University of Fribourg is characterised by its bilingualism and multilingualism, its humanistic-ethical approach and numerous widely recognised key areas of expertise.
In its operations, the University of Fribourg pays particular attention to sustainability, equal opportunities and diversity, staff support and development as well as governance and quality assurance.
Development through targeted profiling
As a comprehensive university, the University of Fribourg offers a broad spectrum of subjects and provides students with a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary choice of courses. This diversity, combined with along-standing practice of inter-faculty exchange based on close proximity, forms an excellent basis for defining the university's distinction, not only in subject-specific disciplines, but also in inter- and transdisciplinary research and teaching. As a result, all faculties have already established numerous development priorities with international visibility that give the University of Fribourg its special profile.
Towards this end and building on its tradition and existing centres of excellence, the University of Fribourg intends to prioritise its development along three major axes:
The first is to consolidate or expand and further develop its already existing "beacons". For example, the University of Fribourg is an international leader in the field of materials science with its interdisciplinary research in the field of nanomaterials and the biomedical sciences. Its research area "Bio-inspired Materials" is recognised as a National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR).
However, other areas in which the University of Fribourg has particular expertise are also to be consistently maintained and further developed, such as in the field of the organisation of political entities, for which centres of excellence on federalism or "Europe" already exist.
In particular through targeted networking of already existing activities and competences, the formation of (interdisciplinary) centres of excellence in selected additional areas is also to be promoted.
A prime example would be a key area in the field of nutrition (in view of the university's nationally and internationally recognised research achievements in biology and psychology, its specialisation in family medicine as well as its Botanical Garden, and in view of possible synergies with other partners) and a pooling of its diverse competences in the field of history, including the "Bible&Orient” museum, the only one of its kind in the world.
Finally, the University of Fribourg is looking to strengthen its standing as an institution in which humanistic-ethical aspects are especially promoted both within and across all disciplines, and to position itself here as a national and international reference point. Thanks to this tradition, the University of Fribourg is in an excellent position to make substantial contributions to understanding the varied interactions between human beings and their environment and to the development of new, innovative approaches to solving urgent and complex social questions and issues, especially in the areas of community and social cohesion, sustainability and digitalisation.
To this end, it intends to strengthen and further develop the already existing centres that address questions surrounding humanity and the environment, digitalisation and society, ethics, the coexistence of different religions and cultures in increasingly fragmented societies, and the understanding of linguistic cultures and multilingualism.
Twelve strategic guidelines
The University of Fribourg is unwaveringly committed to quality and excellence in all areas. Aware that excellence and quality are created by people, the University of Fribourg ensures and promotes its attractiveness to excellent established researchers, promising younger researchers, talented students as well as highly qualified administrative and technical staff. Openness and permanent exchange at regional, national and international level, both in scholarship and administration, is part of the University of Fribourg's identity.
In the areas of sustainability and equal opportunities, as well as in the use of the opportunities arising from digital transformation, the University of Fribourg sees its place in the Canton as a central, formative actor that enjoys an outstanding position in these areas in the national as well as international environment.
1. Research and Innovation
The University of Fribourg promotes academic freedom in all its diversity. The University of Fribourg promotes and supports entrepreneurial thinking and innovative action, both among students and lecturers as well as researchers. In addition, the University of Fribourg is committed to the principle of open science, in cooperation and coordination with other institutions on the basis of the corresponding national strategies. It also consistently fosters a multilingual culture in research and promotes appropriate consideration of ethical issues in all disciplines.
It seeks to guarantee close working relationships between students and members of the teaching staff by further promoting proximity which is already recognised as a particular criterion of quality. Against the background of changing job profiles, the University of Fribourg seeks to offer study programmes which, in addition to subject-specific content and methodology, impart the ability to think critically, analytically and across disciplines while making provision for ethical considerations, enabling students to act independently and to deal with the changes associated with digital transformation. In order to promote networked and interdisciplinary thinking, the University of Fribourg endeavours to offer students a high degree of flexibility and access to courses outside their primary study areas, combined with the opportunity (especially for highly qualified students) to acquire additional designated qualifications.
3. Continuing education
In view of digital transformation, changing job profiles and the diverse social challenges characterised by increasing complexity and momentum, it intends to further develop its wide range of continuing education offerings and thus fully assume its responsibility towards society as well as its legal obligations. In doing so, the university ensures the nexus between teaching and research and practice and meets the needs of government, business and society.
4. Bi- and multilingualism
The University of Fribourg has a multilingual profile. It affirms its commitment to its two traditional languages (French/German) as well as to English as an international language. It regards its bilingual and multilingual profile as a unique attribute of national and European importance. It promotes the bi- and multilingualism of the academic community through concrete measures and offers and by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by digital transformation. The objectives, guidelines and mechanisms set out above will be specified and implemented within the framework of the university's language policy.
5. Advancement of young researchers
The University of Fribourg identifies promising young talents from the moment they enrol as doctoral candidates and actively supports them, for example by ensuring optimal mentoring, by providing continuous guidance and planning regarding career prospects within, as well as beyond, the university, by facilitating access to national and international networks and by giving them the opportunity to think and work across disciplines. With regard to the diversification and attractiveness of academic careers, the University of Fribourg is reinforcing its attractiveness by also creating long-term perspectives for outstanding academics who are not seeking professorships, in particular by creating targeted permanent positions for highly qualified academic staff.
6. Staff development and support
The University of Fribourg considers adequately qualified and motivated administrative and technical staff, who play a key role in the support of teaching and research, to be an essential prerequisite for the good functioning of its operations at academic and administrative level. It will support and promote the targeted development of staff with a view to enabling them to perform their responsibilities comprehensively into the future. It attaches central importance to the continuing education of its staff, identifies staff members with special potential and provides them with targeted support. In this respect, its particular goal is to strengthen the autonomy of the university in the area of staffing as well as elsewhere and thus to expand management’s scope of action, especially in view of the fact that there is strong competition for qualified staff.
7. Equal opportunity and diversity
The University of Fribourg guarantees equality in all regards and actively opposes any form of discrimination. In doing so, it promotes diversity and inclusion and makes them one of its strengths.It aims to further increase the already relatively high proportion of female professors (almost 30%), having regard to the diversity in its general environment, to support young female researchers and to reduce drop-out rates.
8. Cooperation and internationalisation
The University of Fribourg sees itself as an international university. It aims to specifically strengthen its cooperation with prestigious foreign research institutions.
The University of Fribourg promotes the international mobility of students and researchers, both incoming and outgoing. A special emphasis is placed on the development of double degrees or coordinated degrees.
Especially in regard to academic development priorities, it is extending academically relevant synergies with strong existing and new partners as well as with other universities and is developing strategic partnerships. In particular, it is exploring the possibilities of increased cooperation with (non-university) cantons and is working towards the further development of the BENEFRI network.
9. Dialogue with society
The University of Fribourg takes charge of its multiple responsibilities towards society. It shares its knowledge and findings with government, business and the public and uses digital technology in doing so. At the same time, the University of Fribourg is hoping to in turn receive valuable contributions to teaching, research and continuing education. In this sense, it sees itself as a platform for dialogue and exchange between academia and society. Its view of itself as a place of dialogue is to be realised in the form of attractive offerings for the general public and measures to bring the world of work, students and researchers ever closer together, among other things by consistently fostering its Career Services as well as by providing high-quality communication with contact persons within the university. By providing services (e.g. within the framework of TechTransfer) and in cooperation with partners, especially from industry and society, it actively contributes to the solution of tangible problems and questions. With its "Science & Society" exchange platform and continuing education programmes, the University of Fribourg makes a significant contribution to broad, knowledge-based awareness-raising within government, business and the public in regard to current social issues and trends, such as the preservation of the natural foundations of life and digital transformation, and is providing effective, solution-oriented contributions to public debate.
The University of Fribourg contributes to the attainment of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the areas of teaching, research and general operations. It works actively towards the realisation of the Canton’s sustainability goals and their implementation and provides impetus at a national level.
In the field of ecological sustainability, the University of Fribourg is committed to treating natural resources with due care.
The University of Fribourg is formulating a strategy for ecological sustainability including measurable targets, specification of the funds to be made available for this purpose and expanded monitoring. It promotes healthy lifestyle choices in campus life, raises awareness within the university community about applying sustainability principles in everyday activities and supports corresponding initiatives from community members. It is intended that there will be an even stronger focus on the question of ecological sustainability in the research of the various academic departments and their teaching.
11. Infrastructure and core facilities
The University of Fribourg considers the adequate provision of buildings and infrastructure that meet international standards and are tailored to the needs of users to be a central factor in its attractiveness as a centre for research, study and work. For this reason, the new building for the Faculty of Law - the "Tour Henri" – and the necessary renovation of various buildings on the Plateau de Pérolles are to be completed as quickly as possible.In the library sector, the University of Fribourg expects structural and organisational changes as well as changing roles and tasks in connection with digital transformation. Together with its partners, specifically the Cantonal and University Library BCU, it is looking to proactively give shape to the resulting opportunities and challenges.
12. Governance and quality assurance
The University of Fribourg considers effective governance which takes into consideration its special character and is geared to current challenges and prevailing conditions to be a basic prerequisite for its long-term success. It therefore intends to further professionalise its governance structure and further develop existing governance instruments for use at all levels of management. At the same time, the various bodies develop the tasks, competencies and responsibilities assigned to them by legislation to the fullest extent and in the interest of the entire institution. This goes hand in hand with a successive strengthening of the governing bodies.
Key mechanisms for promoting this culture of quality are the participatory orientation of the quality assurance system, communication concerning quality assurance procedures and results as well as the provision of key indicators. The university's quality assurance strategy meets the standards and guidelines agreed to at European level and complies with national and international legal requirements.