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The Swiss higher education is coordinated by several bodies. Below is an overview of the most important ones.
The universities, the universities of applied sciences and the universities of teacher education in Switzerland have founded the association swissuniversities. This association is preparing the bringing together of the current three rectors' conferences: The Rector's Conference of the Swiss universities, the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences, and the Swiss Conference of Rectors of Universities of Teacher Education to a united conference which will enter into force in 2015.
It will contribute to the strengthening and development of cooperation among Swiss universities, universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education as well as to their coordination at the national level. At the international level it will act as National rectors' conference for all the universities, universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education.
Founded in 1904, its responsibilities and aims are the coordination of the Swiss universities as single entities and as collaborating institutions; the planning and development of strategies; the analysis and evaluation of the quality of teaching and research; and the development of educational policies and of international cooperation.
The Swiss University Conference is the joint organization of the cantons and the Confederation for university politics. SUC has the power to enforce a number of decisions in defined areas and has the following tasks: Issuing directives on the length of studies and recognition of previous studies and qualifications binding on the partners to the agreement; Awards project-specific grants; Periodical assessment of how National Centers of Competence in Research are allotted with respect to distribution of tasks among universities throughout Switzerland; Recognition of academic bodies and courses; Issuing directives on evaluation of teaching and research; Issuing directives on knowledge transfer in research. Further, the SUC makes recommendations on cooperation, on plans for the future and on balanced division of tasks within the universities; it informs parties affected by current projects and consults them.
In Switzerland, the main responsibility for education and culture lies with the cantons. They coordinate their work at the national level. The 26 cantonal ministers of education together form a political body to carry out this work: the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education. Legally binding, intercantonal agreements (known as concordats) form the foundation for the work of the EDK.
The State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) in Bern is the national body charged with the development of political guidelines and strategies for the universities, negotiation of international cooperation and treaties, and coordination of national educational policies at all levels. Its responsibilities include international cooperation, research programmes on national and international levels, space affairs, general education and funding and grants.
The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) is the most important Swiss institute for the promotion of scientific research. As mandated by the Swiss Federal government, the SNSF supports all disciplines, from philosophy and history to nanosciences and medicine. It is open to scientists and academics of all nationalities working in Switzerland, and there are many funding opportunities for independent basic research in any subject or discipline.
The Centre of Accreditation and Quality Assurance of the Swiss Universities (OAQ) guarantees and promotes quality in teaching and research In Switzerland's universities. Although the OAQ is a member of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, the ENQA operates independently, and bases its work on international practices and research findings.