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Quality Newsletter #2

December 2023


In this EPFL Quality newsletter sent out every semester, you’ll find the latest information on the concrete steps EPFL is taking to continuously improve its quality management system.

Happy reading!

On behalf of the EPFL Quality Commission, Ewa Mariéthoz, Quality Assurance Delegate, and Paul Sunderland, Chief of Staff VPA, Deputy to the Vice President of Academic Affairs

EPFL leadership

An interactive website

The Quality Office’s website has been completely revamped to make it more attractive and to better reflect EPFL’s continuous improvement process. The new website will also let EPFL measure the impact of its quality-related communications strategy, as required by the Swiss Accreditation Council.

The new homepage follows the structure of EPFL’s quality management system. 

The subsequent pages describe the improvement measures that have recently been implemented. You can vote (by giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down) for individual measures to indicate how important you believe they are. Votes will be kept completely anonymous, and you don’t have to be connected to the VPN to vote.


Please support our efforts by casting your vote!


This intentionally simplistic approach serves only as an indicator, much like a smoke detector. The Quality Commission will carry out additional assessments to build on the results of this survey. 

For further explanations or more information, please contact Ewa Mariéthoz.

Quality Office's website


A voice in academic strategy decisions

Because EPFL’s academic community wants to have a bigger say in strategic decisions, EPFL has created an Academic Strategic Committee made up of 19 faculty members named or elected by EPFL deans, school councils and the EPFL Direction. Committee members are chosen to provide a broad representation of the academic fields at EPFL


More information: Academic Strategic Committee

Living together

Supporting the hiring of women professors

EPFL set the target in 2019 of offering at least 40% of new professorship positions to women. A survey of EPFL faculty members carried out in 2020 on the conditions for women illustrated just how important this target is. In 2020–2022, 39% of new professorship positions were made to women. This target has been expanded for the 2025–2028 period to include management positions.



More information: Equal Opportunity & Diversity Action Plan 2021-2024


2023 Health Days 

EPFL’s Mental Health and Well-Being Task Force ran a survey of the entire community in 2022 to pinpoint the issues affecting mental health, identify the community’s needs and determine what measures need to be implemented. The survey results showed that action is required, especially to reduce burnout, negative stress and psychological distress. As part of the response, the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and EPFL put on a Health Days event for both school’s communities; the event included panel discussions, talks, workshops and various sports and wellness activities. The goal was to build awareness of the many aspects of good health and remove the stigma surrounding mental health problems. The Health Days event was entirely free of charge and was organized jointly by EPFL’s Mental Health and Well-Being Task Force and the UNIL-EPFL Sports Center. Other initiatives to improve the mental health of the EPFL community are currently being developed.



More information:
Health Days 2023
Watch the Health Days videos (in French)

Teaching and learning

More time on exams to reduce first-year failure rates

At EPFL, there’s a big discrepancy in the first-year failure rates between students who obtained a high-school diploma in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subject and those who didn’t. To help reduce this discrepancy and ensure that students are evaluated on their reasoning capabilities and not on how quickly they can perform calculations, students will be given an additional 30 minutes in exams in mathematics, physics and chemistry.


More information:


Student exchange programs 

32.3% of EPFL students have completed an international exchange program, making it one of the four Swiss universities to reach the 20% target for the European Education Area.


More information (in French): Mobilité des étudiant·es suisses


Career paths of EPFL graduates 

In January 2022, the EPFL Alumni club and the Teaching Support Center (CAPE) conducted a survey of EPFL alumni who graduated between 1980 and 2019 to learn about their career trajectories. 3214 people responded. The results showed that the gender gap is shrinking but hasn’t entirely vanished. And 86% of respondents said their jobs are still related to their majors at EPFL.


More information: An extensive survey reveals post EPFL careers


Training on research ethics and data protection

Even though EPFL has experienced few problems related to research ethics, the institution has decided to take preventive measures. Since 2021, new professors have been required to complete an online training session called Conducting Research the Right Way, given by the EPFL Research Office. The training covers the basics of research ethics and best practices. In addition, EPFL’s Data Protection Officer and Legal Affairs team have introduced a training session on data protection and cybersecurity, which looks at best practices on personal data and new legal requirements that came into force in September 2023. 


More information:
Check out the EPFL course on Research Integrity 
Check out the EPFL course on Data protection


Identifying key partners 

The Vice-Presidency for Innovation supports EPFL and its members on their innovation mission, successfully transferring research to society with a positive impact. Such technology transfer can occur through industrial collaborations, start-ups, or patent licensing.

VPI needs to well understand the science developed in the EPFL laboratories, in order to identify key-partners to support the development of such novel technologies.

To benchmark the current situation, VPI is performing a study interviewing several professors in the School of Engineering (STI), covering different sites, Institutes, topics, seniority levels and gender, about their innovation journeys. The idea is to clearly identify their pain points, their challenges, their goals and their needs, with the aim of improving the services provided and tailoring them to the situation and interest of the laboratory.

Key indicators for this study are the number and amount of signed contracts, new industrial leads, improvement on turnover (contracts/contacts) and in general a better perception and use of the services of VPI by faculty.

Other information

Quality Office moved to the VPA

The EPFL Quality Office was attached to the General Secretariat from 2017 to 2023 to facilitate preparations for EPFL’s institutional accreditation. As from November, the Office has been moved back to the Vice Presidency for Academic Affairs (VPA) and will also focus on EPFL’s procedures for academic evaluation, while better leveraging synergies within central services.


For more information:



EPFL will host the 2024 Annual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI), thanks to an initiative led by Roland Tormey, a member of the SEFI Board of Directors. The EPFL delegation at the 2023 Annual Conference in Dublin, Ireland, presented eight research publications and led four workshops.

In other news, Isabelle Sarrade, a teaching advisor at CAPE and a member of the EPFL Quality Commission, will give a talk on EPFL’s quality assurance process at the G3 symposium in Geneva. The G3, founded in 2012, is an alliance of three French-speaking universities: the University of Geneva in Switzerland, the Université de Montréal in Canada and the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.


Plus d'informations: 
Educating Responsible Engineers
Colloque du G3: la qualité dans l'enseignement supérieur (in French)


For all your comments and questions about Quality at EPFL, one email: ewa.marié