The UNIL in the 21st century


After three years of sharp increases, numbers have stabilised with an increase of 200 students.

The 10th Mystères de l'UNIL open days took place at the end of May. Since they were first held in 2006, these events have been attracting young visitors and the cantonal authorities with the aim of discovering the research and educational opportunities offered by an institution that has embedded a culture of sharing its findings with the city in its DNA.

UNIL has been strengthening the focus of its research activities on societal concerns. Examples include the study of life courses, criminal science, sports science, religious science, sustainability and cancer (including the signature, in June, of an agreement with the US-based Ludwig Cancer Research foundation to fund an immunology centre).

In the same vein, and in order to respond to the major challenges in the Swiss health care system, efforts have been made to increase capacity in the School of Medicine in partnership with the CHUV, cantonal and regional hospitals, as well as promoting courses and activities associated with primary care. Preparations are also underway to welcome students from other streams, such as the School of Biology, or from EPFL and other Swiss universities onto the medicine course in 2017.


The UNIL has passed the figure of 14,000 students, with a strong increase in its student population for the third consecutive academic year. The most significant increase was recorded in Medicine and the Faculty of Business Studies (HEC). In response to this trend, the Directorate has implemented several measures (creation of new teaching positions, and the doubling or even tripling of some courses). Special measures have been taken in Medicine to anticipate efforts at Swiss national level to produce more graduates for this sector threatened by shortage.

In the humanities and social sciences, the UNIL has further strengthened its offerings by integrating the Institute of Public Administration (IDHEAP) in its Faculty of Law, Criminal Science and Public Administration. It thus offers training for future middle management personnel of municipal, cantonal and federal administrations. This integration is a logical development insofar as the decisions and rules of public administration are based on the knowledge, application and interpretation of Swiss, European and international law.

In addition, the integration of a part of the academic activities of the Kurt Bösch University Institute (IUKB) in Sion has allowed the launch of an unprecedented educational opportunity for Tourism Studies through a new Master's degree course.

Several projects are in the planning stages to accompany this development of the institution, with the enlargement and renovation of the Amphipôle building and the enlargement of the Unithèque to increase the number of places available in the restaurant and the library.


Adoption of the University’s strategic plan for the period 2012-2017 by the State Council and subsequently the Grand Council of the canton of Vaud was one of the highlights of 2013. Focused on teaching, research, contribution to society and institutional policy, this document outlines seven values, including accessibility (in terms of access to study in relation to the teaching focus), success (emphasis on the formative role of the first year of studies) and responsibility (profiling of the institution in a rationale of complementarity and collaboration).

Confirming its high profile in life sciences, UNIL launched the Swiss Cancer Centre in partnership with the CHUV and the EPFL. In the realm of environmental sciences, the institution, in conjunction with four academic partners, opened the Centre for Surface Analysis which boasts resources unique in Europe for the study of all solids (bones, fossils, rocks, atmospheric particles, etc). Another key component of UNIL, human and social sciences, was reinforced (sports sciences and public administration in particular).

The visit by the Dalai Lama in April 2013 acted as a stimulus on interdisciplinary exchanges. Two faculties - Geosciences and Environment/Biology and Medicine – also celebrated their 10th anniversaries. UNIL inaugurated the Géopolis building and a panel selected the architectural practice Karamuk et Kuo, which will oversee construction of the Synathlon; this building devoted to sports sciences and international sport will become a new landmark on the UNIL campus.

On a final note a new team was elected to the UNIL Council, led by its president Madam Carine Carvalho, for the 2013-2016 term of office.


Buoyed by a new strategy outlined in its implementation intentions for 2012-2016, UNIL wishes to encourage learning whenever and wherever it can, to open up its degree courses and relax its admission requirements on the basis of professional skills and experience. In addition, the Rectorate is strengthening its support for young researchers by laying emphasis on their supervision and showcasing their work from Master level.

The year 2012 stood out architecturally by new, high-profile constructions on the UNIL campus. Adjacent to the motorway, the spacious and bright Géopolis building for its part becomes home to the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences and the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment. It also houses a Centre of Competence in the Surface Analysis of Materials featuring two ion probes, which in combination offer exceptional scope for the analysis of all minerals.

Another emblematic building situated close to the lake is the Sport and Health Centre, part of an infrastructure which makes the UNIL a leading player in this field following the transfer of the former Institute of Movement Sciences and Sports Medicine of the University of Geneva to its Institute of Sports Studies.

The decision to integrate the Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration (IDHEAP) in the current Faculty of Law and Criminal Justice also boosts the development of the UNIL on the regional, national and international stage.


Reflecting the vitality of the University, UNIL student numbers continue to rise. At the start of the academic year in September 2011 the institution welcomed 12,400 students, an increase of 2.5% compared to 2010.

A new Rectorate has taken the reins led by Rector Dominique Arlettaz, with two people managing new divisions: Professor Franciska Krings, in charge of “Junior Faculty Development” and “Diversity”, and Mr Benoît Frund, responsible for “Campus and Sustainability”. The team still includes Vice-Rectors Jacques Lanarès, Philippe Moreillon and Danielle Chaperon.

On 15 April 2011 a celebration was held to mark the centenary of HEC Lausanne, an event which highlighted the importance of responsible management. The then President of the Confederation, Madam Micheline Calmy-Rey, gave a speech at the gala evening.

In October, the same President welcomed to the UNIL her Indian counterpart Madam Pratibha Devisingh Patil to mark the inauguration of a Tagore Chair of Indian studies in the Faculty of Arts.

November saw the opening of Alumnil, the social network portal for UNIL graduates and teaching staff trained elsewhere but active within the institution.

The inauguration of the UNIL Ludwig Centre for Cancer Research LICR@UNIL was celebrated on 8 December, after a process integrating the Lausanne branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research with the University of Lausanne. For information, the LICR is a major international player in studies of the immune system and the field of cancer immunotherapy.


The UNIL passes the mark of 12,000 students, welcoming no fewer than 3,000 new arrivals at the start of the new academic year in September.

At the end of June, Councillor of State Anne-Catherine Lyon and the Rector Dominique Arlettaz meet to lay the first stone of the Géopolis building in Mouline, which will be home to the Faculty of Social and Political Science and the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment

At the start of the new academic year in September, the UNIL innovates at a national level with the introduction of part-time courses for all of its Masters programmes. Subject to application, the part-time Masters is open to students with family responsibilities, who are working, who have a personal project or are faced with health problems.

Through an agreement giving rise to the Ludwig Centre for Cancer Research at the University of Lausanne (LICR@UNIL), the UNIL expands and strengthens research in this field in Lausanne. This new cooperation agreement, in collaboration with Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), incorporates the Lausanne Branch of the Ludwig Institute within the UNIL from 1 January 2011 and strengthens collaboration between the UNIL and the worldwide network of the Ludwig Institute on a lasting basis.

The UNIL gains a National Centre of Competence in Research. Among the eight NCCRs financed by the Confederation, it is the only one in the field of human and social sciences. Named LIVES, this project, headed by Professor Dario Spini, focuses on personal vulnerability and social risk, combining several research areas and the multiple competencies of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences in the fields of social psychology, demographics, sociology, social policy and methodological analyses. In parallel, the UNIL becomes the partner of another NCCR in the field of neurosciences, directed by Professor Pierre Magistretti, which brings together the competencies of the EPFL, the UNIL, the University of Geneva and the University Hospitals of Lausanne and Geneva in the Lake Geneva region.

The UNIL celebrates the 40th anniversary of the opening of its first building on the Dorigny site, on 12 November 1970. It was then the Foundation Year College of the Faculty of Sciences, now the Amphipôle building. This building will be home to the subject of fundamental neurosciences as part of a redeployment of life sciences on the sites of Dorigny (UNIL), Ecublens (EPFL), Le Bugnon and Epalinges (UNIL-CHUV).


The UNIL is the first Swiss university to open a site on iTunes U, a platform dedicated to free downloads of educational materials on the iTunes Store. Here students and other interested visitors can find videos of talks given at the UNIL, interviews by researchers, reports relating to research, course offers, ceremonies, conferences, courses open to the public and other events proposed by various faculties. The UNIL iTunes U site provides an audiovisual link between the institution and the city.

Founded in 1909 by Rodolphe Archibald Reiss, a pioneer in the application of scientific photography to legal analysis, the School of Criminal Justice celebrated its 100th anniversary. It offers the world’s oldest university training in police science. It is the only institution in Europe to combine forensic science and human sciences through its institutes of "Police Science" and "Criminology and Criminal Law".

Launch of the optional programme (Sciences)2. Intended for human and social science students wishing to explore less familiar territories of the natural sciences, this programme offers several modules including cosmology, the atom, light, genes, the brain, biological evolution and the origins of the Earth. Both demanding and accessible to non-specialist audiences, these courses given by teaching staff at the UNIL and the EPFL are validated by a final examination and became an instant hit with students.

The universities of the Azur Triangle (UNIL, University of Geneva and University of Neuchâtel) sign a partnership to redefine and intensify their collaboration in Theology and Sciences of Religions. This pooling of teaching resources at all levels is accompanied by a distribution of scientific subjects in all three faculties. In Lausanne, the Faculty of Theology and Sciences of Religions offers biblical sciences, social sciences of contemporary religions and religions from the viewpoint of cultures and modernity, in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences.

An agreement between the UNIL and the EPFL sees the launch of the University Finance Centre of Lausanne which brings together teaching and research units from the Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC Lausanne) and the EPFL School of Management. With the support of the Swiss Finance Institute, the new centre welcomes to the UNIL site (Extranef building) specialists from both institutions covering the entire spectrum of finance through two complementary Masters and a doctoral programme.


In July, the acquisition of buildings by the State of Vaud allowed the University to begin development of its Epalinges site, to the north of the city of Lausanne. A concentration of UNIL and University Hospital research units on this site will strengthen the internationally renowned work in immunology undertaken at the UNIL. It is the first concrete phase of a plan intended to redraw the geography of Life Sciences in Lausanne, in collaboration with the University Hospital and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Between now and 2013, fundamental research will be regrouped on the Dorigny/Ecublens campus, translational research at the University Hospital and immunology at Epalinges. These three sites are connected efficiently by the Lausanne subway lines M1 and M2.

At the start of the new academic year in September, five years after the creation of the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment, the Géonova national innovation and cooperation project strengthened the field of Geology in Lausanne. Geosciences are staking their claim more than ever as a speciality of the UNIL, adding more weight to the University’s status as a leading authority on the theme of the environment.

On 12 November, the Council of State gave its approval to the Géopolis architectural project. The new architectural complex of around 18,000 m2 will inaugurate in 2012 a fifth area to the north of the university site, the Mouline area, which will accommodate the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment and the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences. Brilliantly exploiting the structure of the an industrial complex, this Minergie certified construction project will be a benchmark in terms of respect for the environment and sustainable development.

In December the Federal Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) published the four-year audit report on the Quality of Swiss Universities, produced by the Center of Accreditation and Quality Assurance of the Swiss Universities (OAQ). It concluded that "The quality management system (of the UNIL) is excellent and forms a coherent and integrated whole. Changes undertaken have encouraged the implementation of a quality culture at all levels of the University. In conclusion the experts consider that the University conforms fully to the required standards". The development of a quality culture is one of the seven objectives of the University’s 2006-2011 Strategic Plan.


The University Council unanimously approved the draft University of Lausanne Strategic Plan 2006-2011 submitted by Management in accordance with the new law. This document was then forwarded to the competent political authority with a view to final validation by the Grand Council of the Canton de Vaud.

Inauguration on 4 June of the Biomedical Imaging Centre (CIBM), the result of combined efforts on the part of the UNIL, the EPFL, the UNIGE, the CHUV and the HUG (University Hospitals of Geneva). This joint initiative provides institutions and scientific researchers in the Lake Geneva region with Europe’s most powerful magnetic resonance facilities (five networked human scanners of 14.1, 9.4, 7, 3 and 3 Tesla). The project’s special feature is the direct link it establishes between research and medical applications.

Creation in Lausanne of the Swiss Social Science Research Foundation (FORS). The University of Lausanne’s focus on man and living beings in the natural and social environment has borne fruit: after an outstanding competition with the University of Zurich, the UNIL was chosen to create and house the FORS, regrouping in Lausanne the social science and political research infrastructures currently sited in Neuchâtel and Zurich. The UNIL will thus be able to intensify its collaboration with other Swiss universities, making Lausanne the national centre of social science research.

New academic year in accordance with the new harmonised academic calendar followed by all Swiss universities and university schools.

There are now more than 11,000 students at the UNIL following 15 Bachelor’s and 26 Master’s courses, including nine in partnership with other universities. The 26 Master’s courses welcomed 803 new students, 39% of whom came from other Swiss or foreign universities.


The new law concerning the University of Lausanne finally came fully into effect after much preparatory work to establish the regulations and new bodies it stipulates (UNIL Council, Faculty Committees, Deanships and UNIL Management).

The main characteristic of the new legal regime is the independence of the UNIL, a model on a European scale: it is responsible for its organisation (particularly its subdivision into faculties), its study plans and regulations, its finances and all of its personnel, including the appointment of teaching staff. This increased independence allows it to plan for the future in accordance with academic values and facilitates relations with other higher education establishments.

Basic science teaching (chemistry, physics, mathematics) is given to UNIL students (Medicine, Biology, Criminal Sciences, Geosciences and Environment) by EPFL teaching staff and accounts for roughly 2,300 hours of teaching per year, organised within the framework of the UNIL College of Sciences. In return, the UNIL provides EPFL students attached to the EPFL College of Humanities with a teaching programme in Human and Social Sciences (SHS). This contribution represents around 4,500 hours of teaching per year.


Entry into force of the new Law concerning the University of Lausanne and the inaugural meeting of the UNIL Council, the university’s main decision-making authority, with enlarged representation on the part of the University’s different bodies.

Entry into force of UNIL-CHUV regulations as part of an initiative aimed at greater clarity and efficiency: the Faculty of Biology and Medicine is mandated by the UNIL and the CHUV to carry out all research and teaching activities in the fields of biology and medicine. Necessary resources are allocated to the FBM by both principals.

October and a new academic year: the Bologna process is in force in all UNIL faculties which now offer all Bachelor’s programmes and already, for some, the Master’s (15 Bachelor’s courses and 19 Master’s courses).

Inauguration of the Integrative Genomics Centre (CIG) of the Faculty of Biology and Medicine, installed in the former Pharmaceutics building. This centre combines 14 research groups (170 researchers) studying the structure and function of genomes.

In a referendum on 27 November, the people of the canton of Vaud categorically refused permission to establish a breeding farm for laboratory animals at the new Integrative Genomics Centre. This investment was however the linchpin of a strategy put in place by the UNIL to remain a strong partner in the constitution of a dynamic Lausanne-based scientific community offering hope in terms of health and economic and social prosperity. The governing body will need to rethink the fundamentals of its development strategy established on the basis of a popular “yes” in the 2001 vote, and also the “triangular” SVS programme in partnership with the EPFL and the UNIGE.

Creation of the Swiss Finance Institute (SFI) as part of a joint project involving the Confederation, the Swiss Association of Bankers and a number of Swiss universities. The SFI federates financial research carried on in university centres in the regions of Lake Geneva, Zurich and Ticino with the aim of becoming Europe’s leading research institute in the field of finance.

The UNIL gets a facelift as it introduces new names for buildings, a change of logo and new signposting.


In 2004, a number of fundamental texts were drawn up concerning the University of Lausanne:

- a new law (enacted by the Grand Council on 6 July)
- a strategic plan (drawn up in September)
- a new charter (voted by the Senate on 25 November)

Installation in Geneva of the Geneva-Lausanne School of Pharmacy (EPGL), the result of a merger of the Pharmaceutics Departments of both Universities.

1st October: constitution of the Federation of Faculties of Theology of Geneva, Lausanne and Neuchâtel (Azur triangle), with a view to adopting the Bologna Process by providing a joint Bachelor’s and Master’s course in Theology.


With the aim of grouping together disciplines concerned with the study of mankind and living organisms in their natural and social environment, the UNIL has taken the unprecedented step of creating two new faculties. This constitutes a break-through in the Swiss university scene.

The Faculty of Biology and Medicine is now composed of all those disciplines which have to do with life in all its manifestations and mystery including, for example, the origins of life, its fundamental mechanisms, the evolutionary process and the protection of life. Study skills range from basic research techniques to the daily practice of medicine with hospital patients.

The Faculty of Geosciences and Environment focuses on human geography, physics and geology, in order to respond to the need of society to understand more clearly the role played by man in the environment.

The second stage of the Science, Life and Society (SVS) programme launched in 2001: transfer to the EPFL of the Institute of Mathematics and the Physics Department, both of which were formerly part of the Faculty of Science.

The Faculty of Social and Political Science celebrates its centenary!


The number of students enrolled passes the 10,000 mark.

Cooperation with the University of Geneva, which has been developed since 1996, has now been enlarged to include the University of Neuchâtel. The three French-language universities are now known as the "Azure Triangle".


The Universities of Geneva and Lausanne and the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne sign the Science, Life and Society Convention (SVS), which defines the distribution of research activities among the three institutions. The aim is to create a dynamic scientific interaction through the exploration of new fields of research and teaching, particularly those at the interface of two or more disciplines.

The first stage of the SVS programme launched in 2001: transfer of the Department of Chemistry to the EPFL.

UNIL in the 21st century
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