Quality Audits procedures last between nine and twelve months. The Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) takes the final decision. In case of negative results, the Federal Council may decide on the withdrawal of the right to financial aid, on demand of the FDHA.
The Quality Audits of the twelve Swiss universities are carried out in parallel, in order to ascertain an optimal degree of homogeneity and comparability of the procedures.
The standards to be applied are defined in the Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Swiss Universities (Quality Assurance Guidelines). These were developed in close cooperation by all parties involved, that is the Swiss Universities through the Quality Network (Q-Network) of the Rectors Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS), the SUC, the SER and the OAQ, based on the experiences of the first cycle of Quality Audits (2003/4).
Accreditation in the field of universities
The Accreditation Guidelines are the basis of the accreditation procedures in the university domain. There are two standard sets in the Guidelines. One is for the institutional accreditation procedures (Art. 9) and the other for programme accreditation procedures (Art. 10). Universities and degree programmes are accredited if they fulfill the quality standards. To guarantee consistent application and interpretation of the standards, OAQ has developed explanatory reference points for each standard (see annexes 5.3.2.A-B), made available on the OAQ website.
If the accreditation ends with a positive assessment, then the assessed unit receives unconditional accreditation that is valid for 7 years. Conditions will be applied to accreditation if gaps are found in content or structure. In such cases, the assessed unit must prove that it is able to rectify the shortcomings by the end of the given deadline, according to Art. 27§2 of the Accreditation Guidelines. The OAQ verifies the implementation within the set deadline. Accreditation is granted if the deficiencies have been rectified. If the accreditation ends with a negative assessment, then accreditation will not be granted or will be withdrawn if conditions are not met.
Accreditation in the field of UAS
Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences and their corresponding degree programmes are accredited at federal level. The Federal Department of Economic Affairs (FDEA) is the responsible body for accrediting all Swiss UAS and their corresponding degree programmes. The FDEA may delegate review of accreditation requests to recognized accreditation agencies, which then determine whether the required qualitative standards and legal targets have been met (list of recognized accreditation agencies). UAS and their degree programmes are accredited if they fulfill the criteria according to the UAS Accreditation Guidelines.
If the accreditation request receives a positive assessment, then the degree programme in question will receive unconditional accreditation and therefore provides the right to the institution to deliver the degree. Conditions will be applied to accreditation if gaps are found in content or structure. In such cases, accreditation is granted but the deficiencies must be rectified by the specified timeframe. If the accreditation request receives a negative assessment, then accreditation will not be granted or will be withdrawn if conditions are not met. The FDEA accreditation is valid for 7 years.