The Federal Act of 30 September 2011 on the Funding and Coordination of the Higher Education Sector (HEdA) came into effect on 1 January 2015. With this piece of legislation, a system for mandatory institutional accreditation was introduced for all higher education institutions using the designation ‘tier-one university’, ‘university of applied sciences’ or ‘university of teacher education’ or derived designations such as ‘tier-one college’ or ‘UAS college’ (Art. 28 para. 2 let. a, Art. 29, Art. 62 and 63 HEdA).

The right to use designations also applies to equivalent designations in languages other than Swiss national languages. Starting from
1 January 2015, all Swiss institutions wishing to use the protected designations mentioned above are required to obtain institutional accreditation. Swiss higher education institutions and other institutions within the higher education sector that use other designations do not fall within the scope of HEdA but are bound instead by applicable cantonal legislation. The cantons may enact additional legislation or, for example, require accreditation for other designations.

Swiss public higher education institutions and private institutions within the higher education sector that already existed prior to entry into effect of HEdA and that were already using these designations under previous legislation, have eight years following entry into force of HEdA to obtain accreditation (i.e. no later than 31 December 2022). Meanwhile, they remain subject to cantonal provisions.

The Swiss Agency of Accreditation and Quality Assurance in Higher Education (AAQ), is responsible for accreditation procedures. The decision-making body is the Swiss Accreditation Council. All accreditation applications must be sent to the Swiss Accreditation Council.

The list of currently recognised or accredited Swiss higher education institutions under the terms of HEdA can be found on the website of the Swiss Conference of Rectors of Higher Education Institutions

The Policy Bulletin of the Federal Commercial Registry Office FCRO 2/14 and FCRO 1/16 explains the implications of HEdA for cantonal commercial registry authorities.

Legal opinion drafted by Prof. Astrid Epiney: ‘Zur Stellung ausländischer und privater Institutionen des Hochschulbereichs unter dem Hochschulförderungs- und -koordinationsgesetz’.