A sharp increase in students and all-around competitive research funding for USI


Institutional Communication Service

20 December 2021

In the academic year 2021-22, USI student enrollment experienced a record 17% increase. In addition, competitive research rose to more than CHF 28 million, with funds secured by researchers active on the Lugano, Mendrisio, and Bellinzona campuses. Both figures are the highest in the history of USI, which this closes its 25th anniversary year in the best possible way. 


Student body up by 17%

The number of students reaches 3,923, reflecting two types of increase. On the one hand, the year-on-year growth in the five USI Faculties is confirmed. As in the previous year, with an 8% increase, the percentage is higher than the increase registered in other Swiss universities. On the other hand, the affiliation of the Faculty of Theology in Lugano brought about 300 new students, which represent an additional 9% increase.

The students are broken down as follows: 21% are enrolled at the Academy of Architecture, 25.5% at the Faculty of Economics, 24.5% at the Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society, 14% at the Faculty of Informatics, 7% at the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences and 8% at the Faculty of Theology. Furthermore, 24% of those enrolled come from Ticino, 9% from other cantons, 48% from Italy and 19% from other countries. Of the 3,923 students enrolled at USI, 3,380 are undergraduates (1,564 Bachelor students and 1,816 Master students); there are 445 PhD students, 66 students attend a continuing education programme (Master of Advanced Studies), and 32 follow a canonical licentiate course, a particular 2-year course after the Master to enter the Doctorate in Theology.

The Pro-Rector for Education and Students' experience Lorenzo Cantoni comments: "I am very pleased that USI has been chosen by so many students as a place to grow culturally, professionally and personally. It is a great honour for us and also a great responsibility. All the Faculties have again seen significant growth: credit goes to the programme directors, as well as to all the academic and administrative staff. The collaboration with the Faculty of Theology to align the educational processes is very good, which are progressing well".


More growth in competitive research funds

In terms of obtaining competitive research funds, the steady growth experienced in recent years continues, confirming USI's profile as a research-intensive university. It is worth recalling that competitive research is intended as research financed by funds allocated on a competitive basis with other universities by the European Union, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Swiss Agency for the Promotion of Innovation - Innosuisse (formerly CTI), the Swiss Conference of Universities, or private foundations.

The total obtained by USI in 2021 is 28.3 million CHF, of which about 19.9 million CHF from the SNSF, 2.7 million CHF from the European Union, 1.6 million CHF from Innosuisse, 360,000 CHF from swissuniversities and 3.8 million CHF from other institutions.

In the words of the Pro-Rector for Research Patrick Gagliardini: "I would like to emphasise the variety of parties who obtain competitive research funds. The quality of research at USI is very high in all instances of the University. We have the institutes of the Faculties in Lugano (with particular success, for example, in the fields of software engineering, economic and social sciences, and Informatics), the joint IDSIA USI-SUPSI Institute on artificial intelligence, the biomedical research cluster with affiliates IRB and IOR in Bellinzona. We also have research groups in Mendrisio, for example, the Institute of History and Theory of Art and Architecture, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and secured substantial funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation". USI has 17 research institutes; more details on their size are available in the attached infographic.

As USI25 comes to a close, some reflections from USI Rector Boas Erez: "When I think back to the objectives we set ourselves a year ago for the 25th anniversary celebrations, I can only thank the USI community and the people of Ticino for enabling us to achieve them. It was in fact a collective effort, bringing together staff and academics, and allowing us to get to know each other and the region that hosts and supports us. I hope that USI, thanks to the activities it performs, has become more deeply rooted in the thoughts, perspectives and hearts of the Ticino people who met it in the public spaces and in the more than 40 events that characterised this long year of celebrations".