What Does Accreditation Mean?
Accreditation is a type of quality assurance process and independent peer review of educational programs under which services and operations of an educational institution or program are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met. Should standards be met, accredited status is granted by the agency. Accreditation is defined as any form of independent review of educational programs to establish that the learning offered is of a uniform and sound quality. Accreditation is important when its comes to the establishment of a public record of a learning experience that will be widely accepted by employers, professional associations, and other colleges and universities - accredited colleges usually recognize degrees and credits earned at other institutions as equal to their own. In many countries the function of educational accreditation is conducted by a government organization, such as a ministry of education, or a private enterprise.
Education in Switzerland
In accordance with Switzerland’s federalistic structure, education falls under the jurisdiction of the individual cantons (Article 62 of the Federal Constitution (Bundesverfassung) of the Swiss Confederation of April 18, 1999, as of January 1, 2008; referred to hereafter as BV, Exhibit 1). The Federal government supports the cantonal colleges and universities, and can provide financial support to post-secondary schools recognized by it (Article 63a Paragraph 2 BV). The Federal government and the Cantons work together to coordinate and manage quality assurance for Swiss post-secondary schools (Article 63a Paragraph 3 BV). Federal support of research can be made contingent upon adherence to standards of quality assurance and coordination. (Article 64 BV).
Education in the Canton of Wallis
The Canton of Wallis represents, within the limitations set by the Federal Constitution, a sovereign and democratic republic (Article 1 of the Constitution of the Canton of Wallis of March 8, 1907, hereafter referred to as KV, Exhibit 2). The Canton is free to formulate laws, as long as they do not violate Federal law. The Canton is accorded supervision over education (Article 13 KV). On February 2, 2001, the Canton of Wallis passed the Education and Research in Post-Secondary Schools and Research Institutions Act (Gesetz über Bildung und Forschung von universitären Hochschulen und Forschungsinstituten, hereafter referred to as BFG, Exhibit 3), and was one of the first Cantons in Switzerland to pass such a law. With this law, the Canton of Wallis promotes post-secondary education and research (Article 1, Paragraph 1 BFG) and establishes the requirements for attaining a state-sanctioned accreditation (Article 1, Paragraph 2 and Article 8 BFG). The accreditation of post-secondary schools and research institutions shall be carried out in accordance with clearly defined parameters and is the responsibility of the Council for Education and Research (Bildungs- und Forschungsrat, hereafter referred to as BFR), which is to submit a review to the Department of Education, Culture, and Sport, to the attention of the State Council (Article 7 ff BFG, as well as the provisions of the Regulations Regarding the Application of the Education and Research in Post-Secondary Schools and Research Institutions Act (Reglement zur Anwendung des Gesetzes über Bildung und Forschung von universitären Hochschulen und Forschungsinstituten) of March 27, 2002, Exhibit 4, and the Ordinance on Courses of Study at Post-Secondary Schools (Verordnung über die universitären Bildungsgänge) of June 5, 2002, Exhibit 5).
For more information please visit: Kanton Wallis / Canton du Valais. Departement für Erziehung, Kultur und Sport, Dienststelle für tertiäre Bildung, Rue de Conthey 19, Postfach 478, 1951 Sitten, Phone: +41 27 606 41 40, http://www.vs.ch/dtb
European Graduate School (EGS)
The European Graduate School (EGS) is a private tuition-funded university institution, established in 1994 by the Swiss non-profit foundation Stiftung EGIS in Zurich, Switzerland and chartered as graduate and post-graduate degree-granting University with its campus in Saas-Fee, Wallis, Switzerland, and its university administration in Leuk-Stadt, Wallis, Switzerland. EGS is accredited by the State and Canton of Wallis to award the graduate degrees of Master of Arts (M.A.), of CAGS and of Ph.D. (Dr. phil.) and has been officially recognized as university by the State and Canton of Wallis by Staatsratsbeschluss (State Council decision) in 2002, recently renewed by a new State Council decision in 2007. The European Graduate School is listed as a private research institution and university in the registry and website of the Canton Wallis.
For more information please visit: Kanton Wallis / Canton du Valais. Departement für Erziehung, Kultur und Sport/Department of Education, Culture and Sport, Dienststelle für tertiäre Bildung. Education and Bildung und Hochschulforschung (Education and Research in Post-Secondary Schools).
After the Council for Education and Research has submitted its review and upon nomination by the Department of Education, Culture, and Sport, the State Council of the Canton of Wallis accredits post-secondary schools and research institutions (Ruling of the State Council of the Canton of Wallis of February 28, 2007, Exhibit 6). The accreditation is valid for a period of four years (administrative period), and applies also to the determination of the diplomas awarded by the EGSF (point 1 of the ruling). Furthermore, the State Council in its ruling appoints the competent experts and the representatives of the Department of Education, Culture, and Sport to the Foundation Council of the EGS.
For more information please contact: European Graduate School EGS, Alter Kehr 20, CH-3953 Leuk-Stadt, Switzerland, Phone: + 41 27 474 9917, Fax: + 41 27 474 9969, Web: http://www.egs.edu/
Evaluation and Quality Assurance / Independent Review
The Office of Post-Secondary Education of the Department of Education, Culture, and Sport confers upon the experts appointed by the State Council a clearly defined mandate with the description of the aims and duties (Mandate Nr. 001 for Independent Expert Prof. Dr. Christoph Holliger, Exhibit 7 and Mandate Nr. 001 for Independent Expert Dr. med. Josef Escher, Exhibit 8). The experts work in accordance with the provisions of the mandate and create the requisite report, which is presented to the members of the Council for Education and Research (BFR) and commented on by a least one expert during a session of the BFR. At this juncture, the members of the BFR have the opportunity to question the report and request further information.
On the basis of the regularly scheduled quality checks and the annual reports prepared by the experts, the BFR files an application with the Director of the Department of Education, Culture, and Sport to renew the accreditation of EGS. The Department submits the application to the State Council, which then renders the appropriate ruling in cognizance of all relevant elements.
With the detailed and applicable legal regulations, and through the twofold quality assurance provided by the experts on the one hand and the Council for Education and Research on the other, the Canton of Wallis, as regards the accreditation of EGS, certifies a high degree of quality assurance. Thus, through the accreditation of the Canton of Wallis, EGS is accorded a special significance that is equivalent to an accreditation at the Federal level (Organisation of Education and Research in Switzerland. Recognition and Quality Assurance of European Graduate School (Aufbau der Bildung und Forschung in der Schweiz. Anerkennung und Qualitätssicherung am Beispiel der EGS), Exhibit 9), even if a Federal accreditation is not automatically initiated or does not automatically result.
For more Information please visit: Kanton Wallis / Canton du Valais. Departement für Erziehung, Kultur und Sport, Dienststelle für tertiäre Bildung, Rue de Conthey 19, Postfach 478, 1951 Sitten, Phone: +41 27 606 41 40, http://www.vs.ch/dtb
Federal Accreditation in Switzerland
The accreditation of post-secondary educational institutions in Switzerland is subject to cantonal jurisdiction. Unlike in the other European countries, a federal system of accreditation in Switzerland exists only on a voluntary basis. (See: Organ für Akkreditierung und Qualitätssicherung der Schweizerischen Hochschulen (OAQ) (Center for Accreditation and Quality Assurance for Swiss Universities). Akkreditierung im universitären Hochschulbereich in der Schweiz (Accreditation of university-level post-secondary institutions in Switzerland). September 2007)
The ruling on a federal-level accreditation will be made by the Schweizerische Universitätskonferenz (SUK) (Swiss Conference of Universities), the joint governing body for the Federation and the cantons for cooperation in university policy, on the basis of the guidelines (enacted December 7, 2006) for quality assurance for Swiss university-level post-secondary institutions, at the request of the Center of Accreditation and Quality Assurance of the Swiss Universities (OAQ). (See: Schweizerische Universitätskonferenz. Richtlinien für die Qualitätssicherung an den schweizerischen universitären Hochschulen (Guidelines for quality assurance at Swiss university-level post-secondary institutions). December 7, 2006)
The purpose of the Center for Accreditation and Quality Assurance of the Swiss Universities (OAQ) is to assure and promote the quality of teaching and research at Swiss universities. It operates independently, and bases its work on international practices and research findings. It organizes and manages its own affairs under the terms of its bylaws and has its own budget. In accordance with the relevant legal provisions, the OAQ has been charged with assuring and promoting the quality of teaching and research at Swiss academic institutions. To this end, the OAQ carries out quality evaluations, establishes guidelines for internal quality assurance at academic institutions, and provides the relevant services.
The OAQ began its work on 1 October 2001. The basis for its mandate is formed by the Federal Law on Financial Aid to Universities (UFG, SR 414.20) and Cooperation in Matters Relating to Universities of 8 October 1999 (UFG) (Exhibit 10), the Intercantonal Convention on Coordinating University Policy of 9 December 1999 (Exhibit 11) and the Cooperation Agreement between the Federal Government and University Cantons on Matters Relating to Universities (SR 414.205) of 14 December 2000 (Exhibit 12). In 2003, the OAQ received from the Swiss federal government the mandate to perform summary quality inspections for the purpose of monitoring the internal quality assurance measures at Swiss universities. (See: Organ für Akkreditierung und Qualitätssicherung der Schweizerischen Hochschulen (OAQ). Quality. Audits.)
The European Graduate School is included in the accreditation proceedings of the Center for Accreditation and Quality Assurance of Swiss Universities (Organ für Akkreditierung und Qualitätssicherung der Schweizerischen Hochschulen OAQ). The published proceedings list (Verfahrensliste) of the Center for Accreditation and Quality Assurance of Swiss Universities lists the European Graduate School as being in the first procedural level for federal accreditation.
For more information please contact: Schweizerische Universitätskonferenz, Swiss University Conference, Sennweg 2, 3012 Berne, Switzerland, Phone +41 31 306 60 60, Fax +41 31 306 60 70, Web: http://www.cus.ch/ or Organ für Akkreditierung und Qualitätssicherung der Schweizerischen Hochschulen, OAQ, Falkenplatz 9, P.O. Box, CH-3001 Bern, Switzerland, Phone +41 31 380 11 50, Fax +41 31 380 11 55, Web: http://www.oaq.ch/
Accreditation in the United States
The Higher Education Act of 1965 (Pub. L. No. 89-329) (the "HSA", Exhibit 13) was legislation signed into United States law on November 8, 1965 "to strengthen the educational resources of our colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students in postsecondary and higher education." It assigned federal money to universities, created scholarships, gave low-interest loans for students, and established a National Teachers Corps.
On 12 December 2000, the United States Department of Education confirmed that the European Graduate School fulfills the requirements of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
The European Graduate School, OPE ID School Code 03518300 / G35183 will be listed in the next edition of the Directory of Postsecondary Institutions. (See: Institute of Education Sciences. U.S. Department of Education. Directory of Postsecondary Institutions. Volume 1: 4-Year and 2-Year Institutions, 1995.
For more information please contact: U.S. Department of Education. 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202, United States of America, Phone: +1.800.872.5327, Web: http://www.ed.gov/
Cooperation and Academic Exchange
In recognition of the importance and benefits of international cooperation in research as well as in the scientific exchange, EGS has established cooperation contracts and curricular cooperation with with the following universities:
Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, Germany; Graduate School of Music and Theater, Hamburg, Germany; Graduate School of Music, Munich, Germany; International School for New Media, Lübeck, Germany; International Graduate School for Arts Therapy & Creative Pedagogy, Calw, Germany; University of Arts, Berlin, Germany; University of Split, Croatia; University of Pristina, Kosovo; Appalachian State University, North Carolina, USA; Clemson University, South Carolina, USA; California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, USA; 17, Instituto de Estudios Críticos, Mexico City, Mexico, NSCAD University, Nova Scotia, Canada; Beit Berl College, Israel, Instituto de Estudios Criticos, Mexico City.
European Graduate School Foundation
On January 1, 2007 the European Graduate School EGS has ceased to be a part of the Swiss foundation Stiftung EGIS by becoming, under the name of “EGS European Graduate School Foundation”, a Swiss non-profit foundation of its own (Gründung der Stiftung EGS European Graduate School Foundation. Gründungsurkunde (Corporation Act of public charity EGS European Graduate School Foundation. Document of Establishment). June 27, 2007, Exhibit 14). The legal seat of the new foundation is in Saas-Fee, its administrative seat remains in Leuk-Stadt. Both the Municipality of Saas-Fee and the State of Wallis have, as an expression of their interest and trust in EGS, participated in funding the new foundation. The executive Management of the University and the Board of Trustees have remained unchanged by this transition except that a representative of Saas-Fee has been invited to join the Board.
Supervisory and Executive Bodies
The following persons are at present (April 2008) members of the EGS Supervisory and Executive Bodies:
Board of Trustees:
Dr. Fritz Schaeren, Feuerthalen, Switzerland, Chairman of the Board
Dr. Felix Zurbriggen, Saas Fee, Switzerland, Vice Chairman of the Board
Dr. Herbert Eberhart, President of the European Foundation of Interdisciplinary Studies EGIS
Dr. Kurt Grünwald, Assistant Director Stiftung Fernstudien Schweiz, Switzerland
Prof. Dr. Martin Hielscher, Universität Bamberg, Lehrstuhl für Neuere deutsche Literaturwissenschaft, Germany
Ms. Lisette Imhof, Pädagogische Hochschule Wallis, Switzerland
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kriz, Universität Osnabrück, Institut für Psychologie, Germany
Peter Margelist, Representative of Kanton Wallis, Department of Education, Switzerland
University Executive Management:
Prof. Dr. Paolo J. Knill, Arlington MA, USA, President and Provost
Prof. Dr. Stephen K. Levine, Toronto, Canada, Vice Provost and Dean AHS Doctoral Program*
Prof. Dr. Friedrich Ulfers, New York NY, USA, Dean Media and Communication Department*
Prof. Dr. Margot Fuchs, Arlington MA, Dean AHS Master Program*
Prof. Dr. Ellen G. Levine, Toronto, Canada, Dean AHS MAPS in Social Change Program*
Dr. Heinz Killias, Lucerne, Switzerland, Director of Finance
Ms. Brigitte Campagnani, Leuk, Switzerland, Head of University Administration Office
*) = Members of the Deans Council
Statutory Auditors of the EGS Foundation are Unirevisa Beratungs- und Verwaltungs AG, Independent Public Accountants, registered under No. CH-160.3.001.557-6.
For more information please contact: Unirevisa Beratungs- und Verwaltungs AG, Spielhof 14a, 8750 Glarus, Switzerland, Phone: +41 55 640 72 52, Fax: +41 55 640 74 35, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
References and Documents
Exhibit No. 1: Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft (Excerpt from the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation). April 18, 1999. Release January 1, 2008 , Excerpt, Pages 1, 16, 17, 18 and 19, Available: www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/101/index.html
Exhibit No. 2: Verfassung des Kantons Wallis (Excerpt from the Constitution of the Canton of Wallis). March 8, 1907, Excerpt, Pages 1 and 3, Available: www.vs.ch/Public/public_lois/de/LoisHtml/read.asp
Exhibit No. 3: Gesetz über Bildung und Forschung von universitären Hochschulen und Forschungsinstitutionen (Education and Research in Post-Secondary Schools and Research Institutions Act). February 2, 2001
Exhibit No. 4: Reglement zur Anwendung des Gesetzes über Bildung und Forschung von universitären Hochschulen und Forschungsinstituten (Regulations Regarding the Application of the Education and Research in Post-Secondary Schools and Research Institutions Act). March 27, 2002, Available: www.vs.ch/Public/public_lois/de/LoisHtml/frame.asp
Exhibit No. 5: Verordnung über die universitären Bildungsgänge (Ordinance on Courses of Study at Post-Secondary Schools). June 5, 2002, Available: www.vs.ch/Public/Public_lois/de/LoisHtml/read.asp
Exhibit No. 6: Entscheid des Staatsrates des Kantons Wallis (Ruling of the State Council of the Canton of Wallis). February 28, 2007
Exhibit No. 7: Mandate Nr. 001 for Independent Expert Prof. Dr. Christoph Holliger. Fachhochschule Aargau Nordwestschweiz, Steinackerstrasse 5, 5210 Windisch, email email@example.com
Exhibit No. 8: Mandate Nr. 001 for Independent Expert Dr. med. Josef Escher. Chefarzt der Inneren Medizin, Oberwalliser Kreisspital, Brig.
Exhibit No. 9: Aufbau der Bildung und Forschung in der Schweiz. Anerkennung und Qualitätssicherung am Beispiel der EGS - European Graduate School Foundation (Organisation of Education and Research in Switzerland. Recognition and Quality Assurance of EGS - European Graduate School Foundation). Kanton Wallis. Departement für Erziehung, Kultur und Sport. Rechts- und Verwaltungsdienst. Saas-Fee, Wallis, Switzerland. January 2008.
Exhibit No. 10: Bundesversammlung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft. Bundesgesetz über die Förderung der Universitäten und über die Zusammenarbeit im Hochschulbereich (Universitätsförderungsgesetz, UFG) (Federal Law on Financial Aid to Universities and Cooperation in Matters Relating to Universities) (SR 414.20). October 8, 1999, Release August 1, 2008, Available: http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/4/414.20.de.pdf
Exhibit No. 11: Rat der Schweizerischen Hochschulkonferenz. Interkantonales Konkordat über die universitäre Koordination. (Intercantonal Convention on Coordinating University Policy). December 9, 1999, Available: www.cus.ch/wDeutsch/portrait/rechtliches/konkordat.php
Exhibit No. 12: Schweizerischer Bundesrat. Vereinbarung zwischen dem Bund und den Universitätskantonen über die Zusammenarbeit im universitären Hochschulbereich (Cooperation Agreement between the Federal Government and University Cantons on Matters Relating to Universities) (SR 414.205). December 14, 2000, Release January 16, 2001, Available: www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/4/414.205.de.pdf
Exhibit No. 13: Congress of the United States of America. Higher Education Act of 1965. 1998 Amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965. P.L. 105-244. 105th Congress of the United States of America. January 27, 1998, Available: http://www.ed.gov/policy/highered/leg/hea98/index.html
Exhibit No. 14: Gründung der Stiftung EGS European Graduate School Foundation. Gründungsurkunde (Corporation Act of public charity EGS European Graduate School Foundation. Document of Establishment). June 27, 2007, Paul Carlen. Attorney and Notary.
Exhibit No. 15: Handelsregisteramt Oberwallis. European Graduate School. Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce. (Schweizerisches Handelsamtsblatt). Handelsregisteramt Oberwallis. Brig. SHAB. No.126, July 3, 2007, pp. 23
Exhibit No. 16: European Graduate School EGS. Course Catalogue and Study Guide. 2008 - 2009.