Accreditation of institutions for higher education

The accreditation process is a formal and transparent procedure to survey through defined standards if institutions and their study programmes meet the quality requirements set by the Confederation. The accreditation processes are intended, among other things, to contribute to achieving international recognition and to improving the comparability of degrees.

The Federal Act on Funding and Coordination of the Swiss Higher Education Sector (Higher Education Funding and Coordination Act, HFKG), which entered into force on 1 January 2015, places higher education institutions (universities, universities of applied sciences, universities of teacher training) under obligation to apply for institutional accreditation. Based on the Swiss Accreditation Agency's recommendation, the Swiss Accreditation Council decides whether accreditation is to be granted at institutional level and in relation to degree programmes offered by higher education institutions; this latter is not compulsory.

Institutional accreditation gives higher education institutions the right to include the following designations in their names: «university», «university of applied sciences» or «universities of teacher training», or a term derived from one of these, in particular, «university institute» or «university of applied sciences institute». Private operators have to submit to the same accreditation procedure if they wish to use a designation that is protected throughout Switzerland. In the case of universities and universities of applied sciences established under public law, institutional accreditation is also a prerequisite for the entitlement to receive funding from the Confederation. Institutions in the higher education sector must apply for institutional accreditation within eight years of the HFKG coming into force.

The following requirements apply, amongst others, to institutional accreditation: the higher education institution should have a quality assurance system which ensures that teaching, research and services are of high quality and the staff is suitably qualified. Universities and universities of applied sciences offer teaching, research and services in several disciplines or specialist areas.

Accreditation of degree programmes is voluntary. Programmes of study at universities and other higher education institutions can be accredited. A prerequisite for accreditation of degree programmes is a guarantee provided by higher education institutions that they provide high-quality teaching and that the programme of study can be completed.

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Last update of this page: 26.07.2021