As of 2015, universities in Switzerland have been institutionally accredited according to the requirements of the Swiss Higher Education Act (HEdA). This accreditation gives higher education institutions the right to use the designation “university” and to access federal and intercantonal subsidies. The University of Basel underwent the institutional accreditation process from 2019 to 2022.
The accreditation process monitors the quality assurance systems of higher education institutions. The accreditation guidelines in the HEdA contain 18 standards that the institutions must meet. They cover the following five areas: (1) Quality assurance strategy, (2) Governance, (3) Teaching, research and services, (4) Resources and (5) Internal and external communication.
The university began preparing for the accreditation in 2018. The accreditation process itself, which involved the Swiss Agency of Accreditation and Quality Assurance (AAQ), began on August 20, 2019. It comprised the following steps:
- As a first step, the university put together a self-assessment report that was submitted in January 2022. This report included a description of the university’s quality assurance and development system, a statement about how the university meets the 18 accreditation standards listed in the HEdA, and an action plan. The report was dealt with by the Senate’s Quality Committee and was then subject to a consultation with the faculties and groups.
- From April 4 to April 6, 2022, a group of international auditors conducted an on-site visit in Basel. The auditors took a closer look at the contents of the self-assessment report during discussions with around 80 members of the university from the President’s Office, the seven faculties and group representatives.
- The AAQ created the final report with an application for accreditation based on the auditors’ report. The university then submitted a statement to accompany this in June 2022.
The process was coordinated by the General Secretariat of the President’s Office at the university. The Quality Committee, as the permanent expert committee of the Senate, was also involved in the process.
The Swiss Accreditation Council (SAR) institutionally accredited the University of Basel on September 23, 2022. The accreditation was granted without any additional requirements and is valid until 2029. The decision was based on the self-assessment report created by the university, the reports put together by the auditors and the statement submitted by the university.
In the AAQ’s final report, the group of auditors rated the University of Basel as “outstanding”: “The University of Basel is a regionally anchored higher education institution with international appeal, an outstanding reputation, and a distinctive profile. Highly motivated staff from all groups and students appreciate the fantastic environment and study conditions. The University of Basel’s team spirit is palpable and significantly contributes to the cooperative working environment and the institution’s highly developed ability to overcome new challenges.” In addition, they stated the following: “Since the last Quality Audit in 2013/2014, the University of Basel has managed to continue to develop their QSE system and initiate, and largely implement, a real culture change in an impressive way. New structures have been created and established at both a university level and in the organizational units.”
In their report, the auditors also included new recommendations to help further improve the university’s internal quality assurance and development. They suggested strengthening the participation of the groups in the committees, developing an internationalization strategy, and setting specific goals in the areas of sustainability and the appointment of professors. From the President’s Office’s point of view, the auditor’s recommendations are very valuable for the University of Basel and complement the goals of their 2020 quality strategy in a meaningful way. They will now be implemented under the leadership of the President's Office and in close collaboration with the Senate’s Quality Committee.