Fit for Future

Rethinking university structures

The University of Bern is pursuing Strategy 2030 and adapting its structure to prioritize its core responsibilities in teaching and research. The University will optimize its resources to ensure that they are sufficient for as much as possible.

Status December 2023:

The University Executive Board acknowledged the recommendations for the four work packages: "Efficient administrative organization", "Optimal faculty structures", "Excellent central research bodies" and "Organization for attractive teaching". At the request of the deans, there will be a consultation phase. The final decision will be made by the Executive Board of the University in April/ May 2024.

  • The structures of the University have not changed fundamentally since it was founded in 1834.
  • Society, research, and teaching, on the other hand, have.
  • This is becoming increasingly visible in a wide variety of trends and places in everyday life.
  • Syntegration showed the need for action.
  • UL would like to examine the future viability of the structures in an open-ended project.
  • The Senate acknowledged the project on 1.11.2022 with enthusiastic support.
  • We can concentrate more on core tasks in teaching and research.
  • Resources are used more efficiently so that they are sufficient for as much as possible.
  • The structure and culture of UniBE supports Strategy 2030.

Structural adaptation to a changed world

At their core, university structures have changed very little since the university was founded in 1834 - unlike the university's environment. The developments in society, research and teaching in recent decades have been immense, which is why today's structures are constantly reaching their limits. The university is now addressing this discrepancy as part of the "Fit for Future" program and will modify the structures.

The university wants to remain attractive as a place of teaching and as an employer in the future: This is the declared aim of the "Fit for Future" program, under whose umbrella around 40 representatives of the university defined the "Rethinking university structures" field of action in summer 2022. Attractive means, for example, that university members can concentrate on their core tasks in teaching and research and are not buried under administrative tasks. It also means using the university's resources efficiently so that they are sufficient for as much as possible and that the structure and culture of UniBE support the implementation of the Strategy 2030. These goals are to be achieved by revising the university's structures.

Moving forward together with a clear process

The process for revising the university structures attempts to incorporate as many perspectives and needs as possible. A multi-stage approach was chosen to ensure, among other things, that development is based on a solid foundation.

The first step was therefore to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current situation. To this end, the project team led by Administrative Director Markus Brönnimann conducted interviews with representatives of the faculties, centers, departments and the central division. In addition, the project team visited other universities, including EPFL in Switzerland, Radboud University in the Netherlands, the University of Helsinki in Finland, the University of Tartu in Estonia and Durham University in the UK, to examine their structures and gather experience.

Based on the findings from these interviews and visits, the expert committee, which consists of representatives from the faculties, stands and centers, assessed the initial situation and defined four work packages, which are now being worked on in workshops following approval by the Rector as part of the "Rethinking university structures" field of action. These are:


Work package 1: Efficient administrative organization

Work package 2: Optimal faculty structures

Work package 3: Excellent central research units

Work package 4: Organization for attractive teaching


Other topics where a need for action has emerged have been transferred to the other "Fit for Future" afields of action or to the line for processing so that none of the ideas and concerns are lost.

Development in three workshop rounds

For each of these four work packages, working groups are set up with selected participants from the affected areas. In doing so, care was taken to ensure that there were always representatives from the faculties, the centers, the mid-level faculty, the students and the central division. In three rounds of workshops, the working groups gradually deal with possible adjustments to the structures and develop recommendations for better structural solutions.

In the first round of workshops, a common understanding of the current situation and the need for action was created for each work package and focus topics were defined for each work package that should be prioritized when rethinking the structures.

In the second round of workshops, various options for the three to four priority focus topics per work package were discussed, further developed and evaluated on the basis of objectives. However, the resulting recommendations for optimization are not yet set in stone, so that there is still room for adjustments if important points that have not yet been considered emerge.

The focus topics and the recommendations drawn up by the working groups are then presented to the expert committee. The outcome of the discussion in the expert committee is incorporated into the third round of workshops. There, the recommendations are finalized for the attention of the university management, together with a rough roadmap for implementation. Impressions of the three workshop rounds can be found further down on this website.

By the end of the year, the university management will receive the recommended optimizations as a complete package. Once they have been approved for further processing, the implementation within the units concerned will be specified with the support of the project management and a detailed implementation plan will be drawn up. The optimizations are intended to keep options open for continuous further development, as changes in the university environment are and must be ongoing.

Four work packages have been defined, which will be worked on within the framework of "Rethinking University Structures". Here you will find details on the four work packages:

Work package 1: Efficient administrative organization

  • Administrative processes are efficient and effective across all levels
  • Teaching & research is relieved of administrative tasks
  • Affected units are involved in work or informed about it
Intended result
  • Optimization measures and roadmap for implementation
Project participants
  • Finance department, HR department, IT services, vice rectorates, dean's offices of the faculties, bcp (process support)


Work package 2: Optimal faculty structures

  • Structures promote agility and collaboration within faculties and enable lean management processes.
  • Faculties have autonomy in designing their structures within core principles.
  • Admin. Processes in faculties relieve the academic management of operational tasks.
Intended result
  • Key design principles for faculty structures
Project participants
  • Deans of the faculties, representatives of departments/institutes, administrative director, bcp (process support)


Work package 3: Excellent central research units

  • Centers strengthen inter/transdisciplinary research and have "impact" in society.
  • Central research platforms provide state-of-the-art services
  • There are attractive interdisciplinary exchange platforms for researchers.
Intended result
  • Recommendations on measures and roadmap for implementation
Project participants
  • Vice-Rectorate Research, heads of centers and faculties, university library, bcp (process support)


Work package 4: Organization for attractive teaching

  • Attractive study contents that quickly absorb new developments.
  • Structures promote interdisciplinary and inter-university study.
  • Students have high flexibility in the design of "their" studies.
Intended result
  • Recommendations for organizational measures and roadmap for implementation
Project participants
  • Vice-Rectorate Teaching, representatives of faculties and centers, university didactics, bcp (process support)