Agreements and contracts
Engineering students’ compulsory internships are covered by an internship agreement available from stages.epfl.ch or from the internship coordination of your master program. When the student has found an internship, s/he has to arrange for the signature of an agreement by the three concerned parties (the company, the School, the student), and provide an original copy to each of the signatories.
The internship agreement should be signed as soon as possible after the obtention of the internship but at the very latest, prior to the start of the internship. Architectural students have a different architecture agreement due to the particular status of the internship in their program.
Very rarely, a company may refuse to sign the internship agreement. It is then necessary for the student to contact his departmental internship coordinator explaining the reasons why the company does not wish to sign the document. Possible solutions will then be discussed between EPFL and the company.
The signature of the tripartite EPFL agreement does not preclude the establishment of a separate bilateral contract between the company and the student.
Master’s degree projects
Contrary to the internships, Master’s degree projects completed in a company are not framed (supervised) in a compulsory way by an agreement with the School. However, if either the company or the professor/Senior Scientist who is responsible for the Master’s degree project wishes to sign an agreement, there is standard a Master project agreement (contact your professor). Generally speaking, establishing an employment contract between the company and the student is incompatible with the academic framework of a Master’s degree project, in particular because of standard confidentiality clauses relating to the results of the project.
Registration on the academic platform
To ensure proper handling vis-a-vis the academic process, the student has to register the information concerning his/her internship or Master’s project on ISA (the School’s academic registry platform).
If the student found his/her internship from the list provided on ISA, s/he needs to update his/her initial registration by completing the required fields (exact dates of internship, contact details for the internship supervisor, etc.). It is important that this information be up to date, as they provide the basis for sending out the internship evaluation to the correct person.
If on the other hand, the student found an internship not listed on the ISA list, s/he has to register it on the platform. To avoid creating double entries, the student must make certain that the internship offer was not on the list prior to registering the internship.
Master’s degree projects
If this concerns a Master’s degree project in a company, the student must register it on the “Master’s Project” tab and not on the “Internships” tab even if the opportunity was found via the list of the internships on ISA.
Registration on Academic Registration Form (FRAC)
It is important that the status indicated in FRAC at the beginning of each semester is correct to ensure the effectiveness of the required administrative processes. Procedures may differ according to the type of internship or if the student remains registered for certain courses during his/her internship.
Confidentiality and intellectual property
While working for a company, the student must be committed to respecting the confidentiality of the information received within the company. The School’s internship and Master’s degree project agreements explain in detail the way that confidentiality must be managed and these templates should be considered as authoritative on the subject.
The student commits him/herself to not transmitting any proprietary data or information obtained during the internship to a third party without the previous consent of the company. This obligation also concerns the internship report for the departments which require one.
Use of the facilities, resources and data, software and other intangible assets of the EPFL during the internship is only allowed by written permission signed by the internship coordinator of his/her department. Except by specific agreement, the student also commits to transferring to the company all intellectual property rights for the results and/or inventions (patentable or not) of the internship, including the copyright on software created or amended by the student.
Master’s degree projects
Confidentiality is an exception in academia, which by nature must publish its findings. As a master project is an academic assignment, it should not generate results that are confidential.
Only the information belonging to the company must be treated as confidential by the student (and the professor, if he/she has previously agreed to be bound by such confidentiality).
The findings of a master project are not confidential and may be freely used by the EPFL, the company and the student as long as no patent has been filed and the results are not software.
The student must be careful not to transmit to the professor any confidential information belonging to the company, without clearly indicating it as such. This applies to information specified as confidential by the company in writing, but also to information observed within the company (unless it is in the public domain).
Students must be particularly careful not to sign an employment contract with the company forbidding them to disclose the results of the master project to their professor, failing which the work cannot be validated.
The thesis report should not contain any confidential information and should be downloadable on ISA as is.
However, if the student checks the Confidential box during upload, the professor is notified by an automatic email. The latter can confirm agreement only if he/she has contractually accepted (see Agreement for master project, item 3.3 below) that prior confidential information belonging to the company must not be disclosed to third parties, or where it is necessary, for the purpose of filing a patent, to keep portions of the report confidential for a reasonable period of time to allow such filing.
Unless the professor has signed a confidentiality agreement as described in the paragraph above, the professor must ask the student to remove the confidential parts of the report before upload.
Students may not use EPFL installations, resources, information, software or other intangible assets without their professor’s written approval.
An agreement for master project is available for professors wishing to supervise the master project through a tripartite contract (EPFL, student, company) or when the company wishes the professor to undertake to keep some company information confidential.
This document is optional for a master project in industry (unlike the Engineering Internship Agreement which is mandatory for an internship performed in a company separately from the master project).
The master project agreement has been drafted according to the basic principles described above, i.e. by protecting the confidentiality of information belonging to the company yet stating that the findings of the work may be freely used by EPFL, the student and the company as long as no patent is being filed and the results are not software.
Under the agreement for master project the student undertakes to transfer to the company all rights regarding any inventions made in the framework of the master project should the company wish to patent these, as well as any copyright on software developed.
The student has to contract personal health insurance for the duration of his/her studies, thus also during the internship period whether in Switzerland or abroad.
For internships outside of Switzerland, the student has to verify that the coverage provided by his/her insurance policy extends to the country in which the internship will take place. For certain countries (e.g. USA, Japan), it is recommended) to obtain additional insurance to meet certain potential medical expenses not insured by Swiss obligatory health insurance coverage (LAMAL).
The student has to verify whether s/he is covered for both occupational and non-professional accidents in Switzerland or abroad. If not, s/he is obliged to contract such an insurance before beginning the internship.
In addition, the student has to have an insurance policy covering civil liability from possible damages which he might cause during the internship. If applicable, s/he will also have to verify that the insurance certificate also covers the internship abroad.
Students leaving for an internship abroad have to make themselves known to EPFL’s Safety, Prevention and Health Domain (DSPS) via the site https://securite.epfl.ch/travel to benefit from the program of emergency assistance. This program provides additional support as needed, but does not replace the personal insurance policies as outlined above which the student must maintain for the duration of his/her internship.
It is the responsibility of any student who wishes to do an internship abroad to inform themselves about the necessary legal and health requirements of their destination, especially as concerns a visa or residence permit. S/he must take care of all administrative formalities required (visa, working authorization, vaccines, etc.). Generally, the host company, or a sponsoring agency (USA) provides assistance, but the responsibility for all of these requirements remains that of the student (and/or the employer), not the School.