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Milestones in the history of the ZHAW

Various events have contributed to the colourful history of the ZHAW, for example the reform process of the universities of applied sciences in the 1990s, and then the cantonal reorganisation, which led to the formation of the ZHAW in 2007. Here’s a summary of the most important milestones in the first ten years of our history.


Happy birthday, ZHAW!
The ZHAW celebrated its 10-year anniversary last year. Established in 2007, the ZHAW is now one of the leading Swiss universities of applied sciences, providing an education to over 12,000 students in a rapidly changing professional world.

ZHAW becomes a member of the European University Association (EUA)
By becoming a member of the largest representative body of higher education in Europe, the ZHAW has taken a further step towards internationalisation and implementing its EU research strategy.
News release dated 06.02.2017, Recognition for the ZHAW at a European level (in German)

New perspectives for early-stage researchers at the ZHAW
Good news for early-stage researchers at the ZHAW: thanks to special cooperation programmes between universities of applied sciences and universities, it is now possible to pursue a doctorate at universities of applied sciences. Five such programmes at the ZHAW are supported by the Swiss government.
News release dated 23.05.2017, New perspectives for early-stage researchers at the ZHAW (in German)

ZHAW makes guest experience at EXPO 2017 in Astana – «Future Energy»
A delegation from the ZHAW, together with other universities of applied sciences, organised the international seminar «Towards Smart Sustainable Cities – Integrated Approaches» in June 2017 at the expo in Astana.

ZHAW apprentices discover new species of bacteria
Michael Opoku and Tara Picozzi made the discovery in the course of their laboratory technician training at the School of Life Sciences and Facility Management. Their findings were published in the International Journal of Systemic and Evolutionary Microbiology in 2017.
News release dated 06.09.2017, ZHAW apprentices discover new species of bacteria (in German)

New master’s degree programmes offered
«Environment and Natural Resources» is the only environmental Master’s programme at the level of a university of applied sciences to combine competences in natural sciences, social sciences and technology. The ZHAW and Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) jointly developed the first Master’s degree programme in midwifery in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, which launched in the autumn semester of 2017.


New research focal point: Societal integration
Through a new research focal point on societal integration, the ZHAW will contribute to increasing community integration and inclusion in our society. Findings from social sciences and humanities and from cultural, economic and environmental research will be bundled together and, in conjunction with information and communication technologies, contribute to new approaches.
Societal integration research focal point

University executive board decides on EU research strategy
Thanks to a wide range of expert knowledge, the ZHAW holds great potential for EU research. In an effort to better unlock it, the university executive board has decided on an EU research strategy that is broader in scope.

Establishing a ZHAW quality culture
By developing the Quality Strategy 2015-2025, the university executive board has set the stage for a comprehensive quality management system. This will ensure for quality in teaching, research, continuing education and business services as well as sustainable development in these domains, thereby promoting a ZHAW quality culture.

New ZHAW degree programme in Health Promotion and Prevention
A new ZHAW degree programme in Health Promotion and Prevention was launched in the autumn of 2016. Graduates of this programme will promote healthy living for the general population and reduce the risks of disease. This is the first degree programme of its kind in all of Switzerland to date.
BA in Health Promotion and Prevention brochure(PDF 1,3 MB)

Opening of the ASVZ Sport Center in Winterthur
The ZHAW now offers its students and employees a spacious 12000 m2 sport arena in Winterthur’s Sulzer Areal. At this facility, visitors will find the Academic Sports Association Zurich’s (ASVZ) largest strength and conditioning zone.


Practice-oriented Bachelor’s MINT degree programmes for students with a baccalaureat (“Matura”) from a Swiss high school (“Gymnasium”)
In the autumn semester 2015, the ZHAW started offering new, practice-oriented, four-year Bachelor’s degree programmes in Winterthur, Zurich and Wädenswil. This three-year pilot project is aimed at students coming from a Swiss high school (Gymnasium) with a baccalaureat (Matura) who are interested in technology and natural sciences. The practice-oriented Bachelor’s programme for such students is available in ten MINT programmes.

ZHAW and data protection officers of the canton of Zurich form platform
The ZHAW and the data protection officers of the canton of Zurich want to work together more closely in the area of data protection and have founded the “Zurich Center for Information Technology and Privacy” (ITPZ). This centre is a hub for research, training and continuing education, as well as consultation activities.
Press release of 30.6.15 (in German)

ZHAW and ZKB agree to work together to promote start-ups
The ZHAW and the Zurich Cantonal Bank (ZKB) have agreed to work as long-term partners in promoting start-ups. The ZKB is supporting the RUNWAY start-up incubator from 2015 to 2019 with a substantial financial contribution.
Press release of 30.6.15 (in German)

AACSB accreditation for ZHAW School of Management and Law
The ZHAW School of Management and Law became AACSB-accredited in May, 2015. The ZHAW is the first university of applied sciences to be awarded this prestigious accreditation, which only five per cent of the world’s business schools have received. High standards are necessary to achieve the accreditation, and the institution and all of its members have to commit to continual improvement.
Press release of 12.5.15 (in German)

New University Library in Winterthur
From the beginning of the spring semester in February 2015, ZHAW students and employees have been able to use the new University Library on the Sulzer site in Winterthur. It has an area of over 6,000 square metres and is the largest library belonging to a university of applied sciences in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. The UL is the first important milestone in the development of a ZHAW university centre on the Sulzer site in Winterthur.
Press release of 6.2.15 (in German)
University Library Winterthur


    Opening of Toni campus
    The Toni university campus was opened in September 2014 after a five-year construction period. The ZHAW School of Social Work and the ZHAW School of Applied Psychology moved onto the new campus, along with 39 departments of the ZHdK. On the Toni open days, over 30,000 people visited the new university campus.

    New university strategy, 2015–2025
    The Board of the Zurich Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (the “Fachhochschulrat” or FHR) approved the new university strategy and the mission statement of the ZHAW in December 2014. The new strategic goals were summed up under the headings “knowledge-based and competence-oriented”, “transformative” and “European”, and these aspects will be developed further in the years ahead.


    New "barrier-free university" advisory service
    The "barrier-free university" advisory service has been set up to improve access to our university and to further open up studying at the university to all students. Those who suffer from a disability or chronic illness should be able to complete their studies at the ZHAW while being treated as equal to other students, and they should have the same rights. Their experience should be as barrier-free as possible.

    European Master of Science in Occupational Therapy approved
    The Master of Science (MSc) in Occupational Therapy was approved by the federal government, and students who live in Switzerland will be financed by the government. This is a joint programme conducted by the ZHAW Institute of Occupational Therapy together with four prestigious European universities.

    Energy as a strategic focal point
    The ZHAW intensified its activities in the field of energy research. Researchers from over 30 institutes work hand in hand with a view to finding interconnected and sustainable solutions to the complex challenges of the energy turnaround. The ZHAW is also a joint leading partner in a national energy competence centre supported by the federal government.

    ZHAW "Seifensträuli" building opens
    The Reidbach building, also known as RA or Seifensträuli, was handed over to the ZHAW in Wädenswil and officially opened. Its area is approximately 3,000 square metres. The planning basis, which provides the foundation for the development of the ZHAW campus in Wädenswil, was also completed. This planning basis is important for the development of all educational and research facilities in the town.


    Over 10,000 students at the ZHAW
    The total number of students (Bachelor’s and Master’s) at the ZHAW exceeded 10,000 for the first time.

    New degree programme at the School of Engineering
    At the School of Engineering, 60 people started the new BSc degree programme in Energy and Environmental Engineering.

    MSc in Business Information Technology starts
    The School of Management and Law introduced the consecutive MSc in Business Information Technology, which is jointly run by four universities of applied sciences in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

    Winterthur location is developed
    The Sulzer site started to become a new hub for the ZHAW. It is planned that - along with the University Library - the President’s Office, the Schools of Health Professions and Applied Linguistics and the lecture theatre centre will all be found here in the future. .

    Integration of the HSZ-T
    The HSZ-T (a technical college in Zurich which was also known as the “Technical Night School”) was integrated into the ZHAW. Its programmes are now offered at the School of Architecture, Design and Civil Engineering, and at the School of Engineering.


    New President
    The first, founding President  of the ZHAW, Werner Inderbitzin handed over his office to Jean-Marc Piveteau on 1 September, 2011. The founding phase was now considered to be complete.

    International networking developed further

    A cooperation agreement between the ZHAW, FH Campus Wien in Vienna, Austria, and Munich University of Applied Sciences in Germany came into force.
    Webseite INUAS


    Over 9,000 students at the ZHAW
    Around 3,200 students began studying at the ZHAW on 20 September, 2010. In the autumn semester of 2010, a total of over 9,000 students were enrolled.


    University strategy decided upon
    The executive board approved the ZHAW strategy. The six profiling pillars were: social embedding, interdisciplinarity, internationality, personality development, selectivity and economic efficiency.


    First Master’s programmes
    The first consecutive Master’s programmes started at the ZHAW.

    School of Health Professions moves
    The School of Health Professions moved to the Eulachpassage, a new building on the Technikumstrasse in Winterthur.

    The first edition of the university magazine, ZHAW-Impact (in German) appeared.


    The development of the ZHAW
    Four established, independent universities – Zurich University of Applied Sciences Winterthur (ZHW), the University of Social Work Zurich (HSSAZ), the University  Wädenswil (HSW) and the University of Applied Psychology (HAP) – merged to form the ZHAW. The foundation ceremony took place on 7 September, 2007 in “Puls 5”, Zurich.

    Executive board
    The Council of the Zurich Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts appointed the executive board of the ZHAW.

    Information on the history of the ZHAW

    The founding of the universities of applied sciences in 1996 brought about a visionary revolution in Swiss education. In a very un-Swiss and radical way, traditions were abandoned,  universities merged and forms of organisation from the world of business introduced. This book provides sophisticated analysis and shows how the ZHAW overcame the turbulence of the early years, has gone on build on its experiences and is utilising them for its future development.

    Order in the bookshop

    Extract as PDF (in German)
    (PDF 4,2 MB)