The national context
The Swiss tertiary education system is a "dual" system comprising universities on the one hand and universities of applied science on the other (Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, Berner Fachhochschule, Zürcher Fachhochschule, Fachhochschule Zentralschweiz, Fachhochschule Ostschweiz, Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana, HES de Suisse occidentale). The universities comprise the cantonal universities (Basel, Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne, Neuchâtel, St. Gallen, Ticino, Zurich) and the two Federal Institutes of Technology (EPF Lausanne, ETH Zurich). This division of tertiary education is also reflected at the administrative level: the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) at the Swiss Department of Home Affairs is responsible for the universities, while the universities of applied science are the responsibility of the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology (OPET) at the Federal Department of Economic Affairs.
The SER is the federal body responsible for national and international questions relating to general and university-level education and research. The Federal Law on Financial Aid to Universities and Cooperation in Matters Relating to Universities established the Swiss University Conference (SUK/CUS) as the joint steering body of the federal government and the cantons. The OAQ fulfils tasks relating to accreditation and quality assurance at the behest of the SUK/CUS. The universities are represented in this system by the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS).