USI (re)presents itself
#USI25 #shapingknowledge #USIsU
Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) is one of twelve public universities in the Swiss academic system, coordinated by swissuniversities. It is organised into five Faculties and is active in a number of different areas of study and research, notably architecture, communication, law, economics, medicine and biomedicine, informatics, public health, computational science, data science and the humanities.
A total of 3'350 students and 1'000 professors, lecturers and researchers interact every day on its four campuses in Lugano, Mendrisio and Bellinzona, with 100 countries represented, and over 10'000 graduates working all over the globe. It receives competitive research funding of CHF 20 million per year and is fully integrated into the Swiss academic system, one of the best in the world. It ranks 20th in the world among small universities according to Times Higher Education and is among the top 300 overall in both the Times Higher Education and QS rankings.
USI is a crossroads of opportunities open to the world, a personal, original university where you can find your own way for the future.
USI is ...
We are a people-friendly university where everyone can discover and express who they are, cultivating their talent and uniqueness. At our university, students have the opportunity to be themselves in a high-quality, engaging and interdisciplinary education that opens up international careers. Professors, researchers and collaborators also find a privileged space of autonomy and freedom of initiative. Unique and diverse, like each and every one of us, USI is a welcoming and lively environment in which to grow through interaction and dialogue.
We cultivate original perspectives and constantly seek unexpected paths. USI is a young institution on the university scene and is characterised by an enterprising and informal culture, which encourages proactivity and planning. At our University, curiosity, drive, and the desire to experiment with new ways of thinking, learning, teaching and working are appreciated and encouraged. All those who want to surprise and be surprised are welcome.
We benefit from our unique position, at the same time decentralised and at the crossroads between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. We are elsewhere, but also an elsewhere. Two hours from Zurich and one from Milan, located where Swissness meets Italian culture, USI is a laboratory of synthesis and creative osmosis. Its small size and its atmosphere, both familiar and cosmopolitan, promote plurality and the exchange of ideas, helping to make it a university in continuous development, towards new horizons, always in line with its guiding values: quality, openness and responsibility.
Some more about us ...
A university is by definition an institution devoted to the transfer and development of knowledge. It is a place of truth-seeking and critical thinking, of universality and uniqueness. It carries out its mission in the conviction that the present and future of mankind depend to a large extent on the cultural, scientific and technical progress to which it contributes through teaching, research and the sharing of knowledge. USI's mission finds its legal basis in the Law that regulates the Università della Svizzera italiana. USI's mission consists of:
- Providing quality education
- Performing internationally relevant scientific research
- Contributing to the development of the region and to society
In pursuing the three founding elements of our mission, we also aim to
- Actively contributing to the evolution of the Swiss academic system
- Fostering the values of Italian-speaking culture
We carry out our mission inspired by three core values:
These values have their roots in our history and are in turn the roots of our present and our future.
USI aspires to become the natural choice for those yearning to grow intellectually, humanly, and responsibly. USI envisions to be a way for the future and strives to be known as:
- an institution that believes in diversity
- a hub that attracts top talent
- a partner of choice for knowledge transfer
- a knowledge lab
- a place where senses and aesthetics are fostered, alongside logic and reason
- a model employer
- a region-wide campus
Our University was created in 1996, in the spirit of challenge and hope. The challenge and the hope of a small region like many others, determined to oppose the destiny of an anonymous suburb and to be a voice in the world instead. With its University, Ticino has set out to contribute to the construction of a more sustainable future, for locally and elsewhere, and to actively live its calling as a channel for dialogue between different cultural worlds. Learn more about USI history.
At a glance
USI in seven steps:
- Quality of the Swiss university system
- International, dynamic and welcoming environment: small scale, broad reach
- Leading education and research
- Teacher/student ratio of 1/9
- Opportunities for individual initiative in a dynamic structure, open to the exchange of ideas
- 2 hours from Zurich, 1 hour from Milan
- Guiding values: quality, openness and responsibility
The logo of USI, the synthesis and visual expression of our University, features a large U in the foreground. U for University, but also U as an abbreviation for the English word 'you'. USI is a place of opportunity, a people-friendly university, where everyone, with their curiosity and their desire to achieve, can discover and make their voice heard, cultivating their talents through interaction and dialogue, both of which are favoured by USI's small size, a welcoming place (U as the shape of an embrace) and a dynamic place (U as the shape of a magnet that attracts and moves towards new challenges), its being a small world within the walls of four campuses. USI IS U: read up and down, the logo of Università della Svizzera italiana indicates that "USI is you". Next to the U are the letters SI, which stand for Svizzera italiana. They are thrown forward and upwards - in the position of an exponent - to indicate a university which, as a public service, has among its missions that of "empowering" its region, helping to shape its future through education, research and the sharing of knowledge. The turning of the letters SI also symbolises a university where it is possible to discover new perspectives and be surprised by unexpected horizons.
... what we do ...
USI offers 6 undergraduate programmes (Bachelor's degrees), 24 gradate programmes (Master's degrees), 13 Post-graduate programmes (PhD) and 10 Advanced Studies programmes. USI offers a student-friendly learning experience. With a ratio of 1 lecturer for every 9 students, our study programmes allow for a truly direct and open dialogue with faculty. Students have the opportunity not to be just a number and to develop their potential and individuality, on a journey filled with curiosity and feeding their desire to achieve and experiment.
- Italian language, literature and culture
- Italian language, literature and culture
- History and Theory of Art and Architecture
- Investor Relations and Financial Communication
- Financial Technology and Computing*
- International Tourism
- Economics and international policies
- Public Management and Policy*
Management e marketing
- Management and Informatics*
- Marketing and Transformative Economy
- Digital Fashion Communication
- Corporate Communication
- Public Management and Policy*
- Communication, Management and Health
- Cognitive Psychology in Health Communication
- Media Management
- Artificial Intelligence
- Financial Technology and Computing*
- Management and Informatics*
- Software and Data Engineering
- Computational Science
* Master's marked with an asterisk pertain to more than one area
- Italian language, literature and culture
- Computational science
- Communication sciences
- Immunology and Cell Biology
- Cancer Biology and Oncology
- Cardiovascular / Human Cardiovascular Sciences
- Drug Sciences
- Neurosciences / Human Neurosciences
- Public Health
- Dr. med. in Medicine (MD)
Certificate programmes / diploma (CAS, DAS, MAS)
- Business Administration (EMBA)
- Health and social care economics and management (Net-MEGS)
- Management of training for managers of educational institutions (GeFo)
- Private Banking and Wealth Management
- Relationship and Communication Management in Finance & Banking
- Risk Management in Banking and Asset Management
- Sleep, Consciousness and Related Disorders (ASC)
- Life Sciences Entrepreneurship
- Continuing education for secondary school teachers
- Continuing education and training for legal practitioners
In the field of lifelong learning (continuing education), USI also offers MOOCs and courses open to auditors, as well as seminars, conferences and other public events.
In our classrooms, lecturers with an international profile offer quality, dynamic and interdisciplinary teaching that leaves room for the practical application of theory through group work, case studies and field projects, often in collaboration with professional organisations. In this way, not only are specific skills developed, but also the habit of thinking critically, creatively and systemically. Combined with a favourable faculty/student ratio and an environment that is both familiar and cosmopolitan, which allows the discovery of unexpected horizons and the opening up of international careers.
USI is ranked in
- THE World's Best Small Universities 2020
among small-sized universities.
- QS Top 50 Under 50 2021
among young universities (under 50).
- THE World's Best Young University 2020
among young universities (under 50).
- QS World University Rankings 2021
Best "new entry"
(out of 1002 universities ranked)
- THE World University Rankings 2021
Range 251-300 worldwide
(out of 1527 universities ranked)
- 3’350 students
1'411 Bachelor's students, 1'512 Master's, 342 PhD, 85 in Advanced Studies
- 93 countries represented in the student body
- 350 Professors and lecturers
- Teacher / student ratio 1/9
- Overall satisfaction with courses 7,8/10
- 10’347 graduates
- 93,2% graduates employed 1 year after graduation
USI is involved in numerous national and international research programs, within a network that includes 500 partners in 100 different countries. The research carried out at the University is characterised by the resourcefulness of projects that seek new horizons and new solutions through interdisciplinary perspectives.
Three main topics
The research carried out at USI can be summarized abstractly in three main fields of interest, investigated from different angles:
- Human beings
- Culture and society
- Machine and its impact
USI research, as well as its other activities in the development and sharing of knowledge, moves within the framework of ten reference areas, with a strong interdisciplinary focus:
- Medicine and biomedicine
- Public health
- Computational science
- Data science
For USI's size, the richness of its scientific landscape is positively astonishing, with results that have achieved a quality beyond what one might expect from a 25-year-old university with fewer than 3,500 students. USI attracts an average of CHF 20.8 million in competitive research per year, and its researchers have been awarded some of the most prestigious international scientific prizes, including 23 ERCs (highly competitive funds from the European Research Council), one Marcel Benoist Prize (the Swiss "Nobel" Prize), and two Pritzker Prizes (the "Nobel" of architecture, rewarding "research by design" carried out by architects teaching at the Academy of Architecture). Some of USI's institutes are recognised as being among the most prominent internationally in their field. Young researchers who, after obtaining their doctorate at USI, have continued their research careers and have been chosen by leading universities such as Harvard, Oxford, Columbia University, and by organisations such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon.
Here are a few numbers that describe the research activity taking place at USI:
- 20,8 million CHF competitive research funds obtained annually
- 1'598 completed projects
- 208 ongoing projects
- 24 institutes
- 342 PhD candidates
- 500 partners in 100 countries
- 23 ERC
- Other prizes and awards:
Marcel Benoist Prize; Pritzker Architecture Prize; Dreyfus Prize; Robert Koch Award; Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award; Dr. Josef Steiner Krebsforschungpreis; Google Faculty Research Award
The so-called "third mandate" is the field of action of the University aimed at contributing to the economic, social and cultural development of the region and the community through the sharing of knowledge, in various forms.
This element of service to the community, in addition to the missions of education and research, encompasses a range of activities and initiatives through which the University presents itself as a local resource: from innovation and the transfer of knowledge in favour of the economy and society to the promotion of entrepreneurship, from cultural activities and the contribution of professors and researchers to public debate and the media, from activities of dissemination, awareness-raising and dialogue between science and society to continuing education itself, in order to understand more generally the contribution in terms of skills and scientific-cultural growth, induced activities, image, energy and "presence" that a university brings to its region.
Innovation and applications
Among the knowledge innovation and transfer initiatives in which USI is active are:
- USI Startup Centre
- Applied research centres
- Regular collaborations with the business world
- Research observatories focused on the region
- Promotion of or participation in competence centres, associations, communities of practice
- Studies, analyses and field projects
- Fostering entrepreneurship and innovation
A few more details - The USI Startup Centre is the University unit that supports the creation and development of young innovative companies. So-called "spin-offs" are companies that originate as an "applied" productive branch of research activities; one example is Humabs, a spin-off of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), now part of the Vir Biotechnology group. USI also hosts applied research centres, such as the Centre for Computational Medicine in Cardiology, and research observatories focused on the region and devoted in particular to tourism, economic dynamics, urban evolution and public finance and energy. USI regularly collaborates with the cantonal hospital authority, clinics and doctors to develop and transfer research in the medical and biomedical field, and with the cultural industry to enhance funds, collections and works for the benefit of the public. It also participates in competence centres, associations, communities of practice and other initiatives that promote partnership research, the transfer of knowledge from research to the economy and society (such as Lugano Living Lab, Locarno Media City, the LifestyleTech Competence Centre and the Ticino Blockchain Technologies Association), and permeability between the university world, the business world and the public (such as Il Litorale). In addition to fundamental research, researchers at the University are also active with studies, consultancies, mandates and field projects (involving students) for companies and other organisations. USI is part of the Regional Innovation System of the Canton of Ticino, coordinates Innosuisse's Training for Start-up programme at regional level, offers advanced training programmes in the field of entrepreneurship in the life sciences (CASE BioMed), and participates in the activities of the Fondazione Agire, the The Innovation Agency of Southern Switzerland.
Cultural activities and contribution to the debate
The initiatives with which USI contributes to by offering itself as a cultural meeting place for the community and to contributing to debate in civil society include, in particular:
- Conferences, meetings and other events
- Cultural publishing activities
- Teatro dell'architettura
- Content sharing
- Intervention and media presence
- Dialogue between science and society
A few more details - Among the various and varied events promoted by the University, its Faculties and Institutes, we can point out in particular the cultural series of the Institute of Italian Studies (ISI), the Academy of Architecture and the Middle East Mediterranean Freethinking Platform. The cultural publishing activity is centred on the titles and series edited by the Institute of Italian Studies and the Mendrisio Academy Press. The Teatro dell'architettura is a structure located on the Mendrisio Campus that organises exhibitions and events, offering itself as a space for cultural debate on architecture, the city and the landscape. The University is active in the dissemination of knowledge contributions through social media, newsletters and the University's websites. As experts, professors and professors, USI lecturers, researchers and professors regularly offer keys to reading, interpretation and in-depth analysis of current and social issues. The dialogue between science and society is cultivated through various events, activities and proposals (see below). Overall, USI offers around 120 public events each year on various topics related to its educational, research and knowledge dissemination activities. Thanks to special events series, to national and international networks of professors and researchers, and to the collaboration with institutions, associations and professional bodies in the area and beyond, in USI's lecture halls the public has been able to hear, among others:
- Nobel Prizes
- Scientists, intellectuals and high-profile figures from the cultural world
- Foreign Heads of State
- Famous architects
- Well-known writers, artists, actors and journalists
- Leading business professionals
- And many more.
To name a few of these figures - Robert F. Engle; Jules Hoffmann; Robert Shiller; Muhammad Yunus; Giorgio Agamben; Zygmunt Bauman; Massimo Cacciari; Manuel Castells; Fabiola Gianotti; Thomas Piketty; John R. Searle; Salvatore Settis; Jimmy Wales; Carlo Azeglio Ciampi; Giorgio Napolitano; Frank O. Gehry; Zaha Hadid; Jacques Herzog; Renzo Piano; Peter Zumthor; Andrew Gover; Luca Guadagnino; Oliviero Toscani; Sergio Ermotti; and Thomas Jordan.
USI is active in the field of science dissemination, in bringing citizens of all ages closer to the themes of knowledge, in fostering dialogue between science and society in particular through:
- The 'Casa della sostenibilità' project in Airolo
- The 'Atelier dei venti' project
- Agora-SNF projects
- UNESCO Chair USI activities
- Various interactive activities to bring knowledge closer together
A few more details - L'ideatorio is a service of USI dedicated to promoting scientific culture and dialogue between science and society. It is the regional antenna of the Science et Cité Foundation and aims to make science and its challenges in our society accessible and transparent to as many people as possible, by fostering a responsible and critical dialogue on scientific and technological progress. It does this through its exhibition site in Lugano-Cadro, where interactive scientific exhibitions, animations, didactic workshops, participatory projects and an astronomical planetarium are proposed to schools and the general public; and through conferences, forums, symposia and projects on the theme of scientific mediation. Designed as a multidisciplinary research facility and, above all, as a centre for awareness-raising and dialogue for students and the general public, the Casa della sostenibilità in Airolo will focus on sustainable development, biodiversity and spatial planning. In collaboration with Lugano Living Lab, Ated-ICT Ticino and Impact Hub Ticino, the Atelier dei venti will be an intergenerational and multidisciplinary space designed to stimulate ideas for growth and development for the city through the "vortex" created by the "winds" of science, art, culture and digital awareness. Researchers at the University are also active with the so-called Agora, projects funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and aimed at disseminating research topics to the public. The activities of UNESCO Chair at USI, for its part, focus on the contribution that knowledge and technology can make, particularly in the field of sustainable tourism. USI also proposes various interactive activities to bring people closer to knowledge, in collaboration with schools, institutions and associations; these include Computer Science Week, collaborations with cantonal high schools through workshops, theme days or as part of maturity work, synergies with the Ated association in workshops for young and very young people on computer science topics and in education and awareness-raising activities on topics related to digitalisation, participation and collaboration in initiatives such as TecDay, Sportech, Media Tech Day, Digital Day, Media in Piazza.
USI's activities in the field of lifelong learning lie at the intersection of its educational mission and its contribution to the economic, social and cultural development of the region (third mandate). USI offers a number of advanced study programmes aimed at the continuing education and training of professionals; these are complemented by MOOCs (open online courses) and, within the educational programmes, courses open to auditors (see above, section Education).
For the region
Together with and in addition to the specific initiatives in the field of innovation, culture, and dialogue between science and society, USI, with its activities and presence, represents for its region:
- A hub for scientific growth
- A centre of experitise
- A driver of economic activity
- A young force
- A presence in the urban context
- A vehicle for identity networking in Ticino
A few more details - USI acts as a "leaven" that enables the growth and systematic development of the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. The direct or indirect impetus provided by the University has favoured, among other things, the establishment of SUPSI, the continued presence in Ticino of the Swiss Centre for Scientific Computing (CSCS), the consolidation and development of research centres now linked to USI (IDSIA, IRB, IOR, IRSOL), and the development of the medical research scene. The University makes qualified individuals and valuable skills available to the region, fostering networks and collaborations with institutions and companies. According to an independent study carried out for the State Council of the Canton of Ticino, every CHF that the Canton invests in USI generates 3.2 CHF in benefits for the Ticino region, thanks in particular to the flow of contributions for training and research from the Confederation, other Cantons, the European Union and foundations, and to the induced activities linked to the purchase of local goods and services, to the presence of students, and to congress tourism. The existence of USI also helps to keep young people in the area who would otherwise be elsewhere: a contribution of energy that helps to keep our region dynamic. USI is also, quite simply, a reference point for the community, a place to relax and take a walk, "a bench for falling in love". USI's campuses in Lugano, Mendrisio and Bellinzona are an embrace to the public, to whom they wish to offer a ground for reflection, civilisation and memory. Thanks to teaching and research projects, international conferences and other initiatives, and thanks above all to a university community that comes from 100 countries, to graduates working in different parts of the world, and to professors with an established international profile, USI has contributed and continues to contribute to bringing Ticino to the world and a little of the world to Ticino. As the only university with an Italian language and culture in Switzerland, through the activities of the Institute of Italian Studies (ISI), its participation in the Forum per l'italiano in Svizzera and with its own presence, USI also confirms the cultural dignity of the Italian-speaking component of the Confederation, committing itself to the protection of a heritage - that of the Italian language, literature and culture - which is not only a pillar of Swiss plurality, but also the heritage of all humanity.
... how we are structured...
USI is structured in five Faculties:
- Academy of Architecture
- Faculty of Biomedical Sciences
- Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society
- Faculty of Economics
- Faculty of Informatics
Institutes are educational and research entities supported by one or more Faculties. They can be institutes of the University; institutes affiliated with the University (i.e. part of the University's strategies, but independent in terms of management and administration); institutes shared with other Universities or institutions (i.e governance and strategy established in agreement between the institutions involved); institutes associated with the University (ie. collaborate institutionally with the University in areas of interest to university policy, but are not part of the University's strategies and maintain independent management and administration). The institutes listed below are operating at USI in their respective areas of research.
Specialized sub-units (laboratories, centress, observatories, groups, etc.) can be created within the institutes, or in conjunction with different institutes, for the purpose of conducting focused research projects and/or providing specific training activities.
USI has four campuses
- West Campus Lugano
Via Buffi 13, Lugano, Switzerland.
Headquarters; Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society; Faculty of Informatics.
- East Campus Lugano
Via La Santa 1, Lugano-Viganello, Switzerland.
Faculty of Biomedical Sciences; Faculty of Informatics; Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence; USI Startup Centre.
The SUSPI Department of Innovative Technologies is also located on this Campus.
- Mendrisio Campus
Largo Bernasconi 2, Mendrisio, Switzerland.
Academy of Architecture.
- Bellinzona Campus
Via Vela 6, Via Pometta 1, Bellinzona, Switzerland.
Affiliated institutes IRB e IOR.
USI is also present:
- in Locarno, with the affiliated institute IRSOL
- in Lugano-Cadro, with the showcase facility of L'ideatorio
The central governing bodies of USI are three:
- University Council
- Academic Senate
Around these are the Faculties, with their respective organisational structures.
... in numbers
Let's conclude - and summarise - this overview of USI by going over the main figures that define it in terms of structure, people, ranking, education, research and third mandate.
|104,5||Budget (million CHF)|
|20th||worldwide in the THE World's Best Small Universities 2020|
|26th||worldwide in the QS Top 50 under 50 2021|
|54th||worldwide in the THE World's Best Young University 2020|
|273rd||overall worldwide in the QS World University Rankings 2021|
|251-300||overall worldwide in THE World University Rankings 2021|
|13||Post-graduate programmes (PhD)|
|9||Advanced studies programmes|
|1/9||Teacher / student ration|
|93,2%||Graduates employed 1 year after graduation|
|20,8||Million CHF competitive funds annually|
|208||Ongoing research projects|
|1'598||Completed research projects|
|120||Public events annually|
|3,2 CHF||Return on each franc invested in USI by the Canton|