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EPFL directive Elite Swiss university cracks down on all-expenses-paid staff travel

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The EPFL in Lausanne insists that staff should maintain their independence when travelling abroad.


One of Switzerland’s elite universities has told employees they cannot accept invitations for trips abroad unless they have been approved by committee. Lausanne’s Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) has also banned managers from receiving gifts in excess of CHF200 ($202).

EPFL confirmed the crackdown to the Swiss News Agency after an article first appeared in the 24 Heures newspaper. EPFL will also insist that in future all travel expenses related to approved foreign trips be paid for by the university.

The new regulations will come into force this December, the university said. It added that the directive amendment is not a response to an ongoing scandal involving prominent Geneva politician Pierre Maudet, who is accused of accepting trips to Abu Dhabi, apparently paid for by his hosts.

An EPFL spokeswoman told the Swiss News Agency that the guidelines have been taking shape since 2017, before news of the Maudet controversy broke.

Members of the university will in future be expected to reject any invitations to travel that could affect their independence. Exceptions to the travel ban can only be granted in writing. Senior staff would have to submit all travel plans to the university’s directorate and minutes of such meetings will be kept on record.

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