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State bodies

State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER)

The State Secretariat for Education and Research is part of the Federal Department (Ministry) of Home Affairs. It is the government agency which deals with general and university education, research and space.

It works to establish and maintain networks between educational and business institutions.

It finances various research institutes and academies, including the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), and is responsible for Swiss participation in international research organisations and programmes.

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)

The SNF promotes research in all disciplines and fosters young scientists. It funds specific research programmes and also draws up guidelines for long term research policy. It oversees the Swiss Priority Programmes designed to cover research areas of strategic importance, to ensure that Switzerland does not get left behind internationally.

It also supports a series of National Research Programmes, which cover important issues of the day.

The SNF funds long term research projects under the general title of National Centres for Competence in Research (NCCR). These bring together specialists from universities and research institutions, federal agencies and the private sector who research different aspects of the topic.

In 2005 the SNF invested 466 million francs in research. Forty per cent of this went to biology and medicine, and 37% to mathematics, engineering and natural sciences. However, budget constraints meant that less than half the applications could be accepted, and many high-quality projects had to be turned down.

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