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ZHAW joins alliance of European universities

In January, the ZHAW became the first Swiss university to join the EELISA alliance. This offers the opportunity to work with high-ranking universities from the EU region and strengthen partnerships within Europe.

EELISA – short for European Engineering Learning Innovation and Science Alliance – aims to transform European higher education, while strengthening the links between engineering disciplines and society. Since January, EELISA membership has offered the ZHAW the opportunity to collaborate with the nine other participating universities from seven different European countries. ‘What they have in common is the goal of changing higher education in Europe. This transformative understanding of science and the other goals of the alliance align very well with the strategic focus of our university, such as digitalisation, sustainability and entrepreneurship,’ says ZHAW president Jean-Marc Piveteau. Switzerland is very much a part of Europe in terms of history, culture, economy and educational background. ‘In this sense, collaboration with other European universities is very important to us – in both research and teaching.’

Involvement in key areas of focus

Looking ahead, as part of its participation in the alliance, the ZHAW will put an emphasis on the priority areas of ‘Employability and Partnerships’ and ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’. ‘As a university of applied sciences, our research and teaching activities are closely linked with business partners and associations. Ensuring that our graduates meet the right professional standards is very important to us,’ says Dirk Wilhelm, Dean of the ZHAW School of Engineering. ‘I’m certain that we can make a real contribution towards this, while benefiting from exchange with other members.’ In the area of entrepreneurship, the ZHAW has also launched a strategic initiative to promote entrepreneurship and the creation of start-ups. As such, it is especially interested in access to  materials and best practices in the field of entrepreneurship education. ‘One of the things we hope to achieve through the alliance is simplifying student exchange programmes, and we are interested in setting up joint degree and doctoral programmes with the participating universities,’ adds Piveteau. The alliance also represents exciting new prospects for the ZHAW, including exchange programmes for employees, access to exchange platforms for sustainable development and collaboration on research within the framework of EU projects.


The European Engineering Learning Innovation and Science Alliance EELISA is a newly formed European alliance consisting of ten universities – including the ZHAW – from eight different European countries. EELISA aims to transform higher education in Europe while strengthening the links between engineering disciplines and society. Following its founding in 2019, many of the alliance’s cornerstones were laid in the initial phase. The ZHAW has been a full member of the alliance since January 2023 and will begin leading work on a specific area of focus in November 2023, once the second phase has been approved by the EU. Rather than focusing solely on engineering, this new phase aims to be interdisciplinary and transformative. The following European universities belong to the EELISA Alliance:

  • Budapesti Műszaki és Gazdaságtudományi Egyetem (Hungary)
  • École des Ponts ParisTech (France)
  • Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany)
  • İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi (Turkey)
  • Scuola Normale Superiore (Italy)
  • Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Italy)
  • Universitatea Politehnica din Bucureşti (Romania)
  • Université Paris Sciences et Lettres (France)
  • Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain)
  • ZHAW Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften (Switzerland)