Swiss overhaul sets pace for neighbours

October 18, 2002

Swiss university rectors are drawing up a framework for a national quality-assurance system that is likely to inform similar moves in neighbouring Austria and Germany.

The Conference of University Rectors (Crus) in Switzerland is preparing the guidelines for the federal government body, the Swiss University Conference (SUK), said Jean-Marc Rapp, rector of the University of Lausanne and newly appointed president of Crus.

As a political organ, SUK negotiates between the 26 cantonal education ministers, the ten cantonal university rectors, the federal ministry of education in Berne and the two federal tertiary institutions (the technical colleges ETH in Zurich and the ATFL in Lausanne), in conjunction with Crus.

The guidelines were discussed by Austrian, German and Swiss rectors in Heidelberg recently as part of a convergence process stimulated by the Bologna Declaration.

Professor Rapp said: "We can formally enact the 'Swiss guidelines' discussed in Heidelberg only after the final consultation process, which will probably be in spring next year."

In Switzerland, once the SUK guidelines have been enacted through the decentralised cantonal and federal legal system they will be formally binding for all tertiary sector institutions.

Tertiary institutions in Austria are subject to more centralised statutory and parliamentary procedures, while in Germany, at federal and state levels, directives in line with the Bologna Declaration are not yet binding.

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