Covid-19: updates from swissuniversities

For the latest communications from swissuniversities, please see here

Covid-19: Keeping open channels

Dear members of actionuni,

A few weeks have now passed since the beginning of the state of exception and the lockdown of all higher-level education institutions in Switzerland.

These are challenging times for us all and especially for the many among us with fixed-term contracts whose work is heavily impacted by the current state of affairs. The actionuni board truly hope you’ve managed to find a satisfying balance between home-office tasks, care-taking duties, remote teaching and home-schooling, impending deadlines, queuing outside supermarkets and post-offices etc.

We believe that, now more than ever, it is vital that each one of our member associations keeps regular and constructive open channels with upper level management at their respective university, while gathering evidence on challenges mid-level academic staff faces on a daily basis. This will allow for a serious discussion of mid-level staff concerns, anxieties and measures taken to reduce the disastrous impact this situation is already having on our peers.

For this reason, please let us know of any initiative concerning the current crisis and/or official communication between your association and upper level management. This will allow us to act as a coordinating platform for the sharing of information and experiences, both positive and negative.

If you already have concrete information on how:

  • your university plans on handling fixed-term contracts;
  • compensation measures for lost experimental material and research time will be enacted;
  • tools to allow mid-level staff to proceed with didactic tasks have been implemented;

please let us know as soon as possible so we can share experiences and potential solutions across our membership.

Aside from university-specific measures, the Swiss National Science Foundation, a major national contributor to mid-level staff activities and salaries, has also adopted specific measures to deal with this crisis.

Swissuniversities, the umbrella association of Swiss higher education institutions, has listed dedicated webpages from the different universities regarding measures and strongly supported a call to publishers to make relevant research accessible.

There is much anxiety and at times confusion as to what the future holds. We’ll do our best to inform you and support you whenever possible. Most importantly, we wish you all the best in these trying times and look forward to your news and communications.

From the board of actionuni

Covid-19: Message to all actionuni members

Dear actionuni members,

The current covid-19 pandemic is putting significant pressure on academic mid-level staff members. All physical teaching has been currently suspended, yet research and administrative activities are meant to continue as before in many universities across the country.

Those of us who have school-aged children are now faced with school closure and no concrete measures for alternative care-taking options. This exacerbates the already difficult situation at work and creates much stress and anxiety in a professional category that has its fair share of both on a regular basis.

This is an aspect that, in calmer times, will have to be raised on a national level. Expecting mid-level staff to work and, in some cases and at the same time, care for children without delegating to grandparents who are at a higher risk of severe complications, is simply incoherent and frankly incomprehensible.

Given the current severity of the situation, we are suspending all actionuni initiatives that would require board members and other delegates to travel to meet, effective immediately. Similarly and as many of you have already done, we urge you to reschedule all initiatives that are not absolutely essential, to safer times.

Yesterday’s governmental press conference underlined the necessity to do all we can, together, as a community, to stop spreading this infection to the more vulnerable and fragile among us.

We all have to:

  • wash our hands frequently
  • stay home if ill
  • keep a safe distance of at least 1 meter when engaged in social interaction
  • avoid inter-generational mixing as much as possible

We recommend you to:

  • engage in home-office activities whenever possible
  • modify commuting habits by avoiding public transportation if possible
  • collaborate with department and institute heads to facilitate operations while maintaining worktime flexibility
  • make use of the many available online tools to facilitate distance learning and teaching
  • encourage others, whenever possible and in line with contractual obligations, to work from home

We urge you to keep abreast of all developments by consulting the official website of the federal department of health (BAG). New measures such as a reduction in public mobility may be put in place in the near future so we advise you to stay updated. Uni Lausanne has adopted this policy yesterday already and other universities will likely follow soon.

We from actionuni wish you all the best in these trying times and look forward to getting back to our work in a safe and normalized environment.


With our best wishes,

actionuni Co-Presidents

Carmen Faso, Isabel Bolliger and Rashmi Rai-Rawat