Accreditation and quality assurance at universities have gained new meaning in Switzerland - as in other European nations - through the concurrent increase in autonomy, new educational institutions offering international courses and the implementation of the Bologna Declaration. With respect to these developments the Swiss government together with the university cantons agreed to jointly establish an Accreditation and Quality Assurance Board which would be responsible not only for accreditation questions, but also for quality assurance and quality promotion at the universities.
The discussions surrounding the creation of an institution, which critically examines quality in the area of higher education, provoked a controversial debate in Switzerland. However, after several months of intensive discussions between universities and political bodies (government and administration) the different points of view eventually led to a model that today enjoys the broad support of all of the parties involved. This model has the following advantages: It focuses not only on accreditation i.e. fulfilling of minimum standards, but also on implementation of quality assurance mechanisms to guarantee sustainable quality development at universities and it provides accreditation for institutions as well as programs.