For a couple of years, political debates and legal decisions have resulted in an increase, from a formal point of view, of the power of higher education institutions' (HEI) rectors. According to policy makers, this institutional change should increase the autonomy of the HEI. However, the dismissal of a university rector by the cantonal government in a quite authoritative way seems to counterbalance this statement on HEI “autonomy” and addresses the governance issue: who governs the universities? The question is especially sensitive since this example is not an isolated one but embodies several cases in Switzerland. This situation illustrates the tension between, on the one hand, the reinforcement of an individual HEI direction regarding academic activities and, on the other hand, the redefinition of higher education and research (HER) activities as a collective and political issue. To what extent does this tension reveal changes in terms of the governance of HEIs?
This chapter focuses on transforming means of state action in the Swiss HE system occurring between two main periods: the 1980s and the 1990s–2000s. This diachronic presentation portrays, in a first section, the former structure of the HE system (1980–1990) and, in a second section, the reframed one (1990–2007). Both sections are divided into sub-sections, depicting, firstly, the structure of the actors' constellation, secondly the HE funding regarding allocation procedures and the institutional budget structures, and thirdly the organization and management of the academic marketplace, including the promotion and organization of doctoral studies. A comparative section discusses the changes occurring during the last decade. Finally, a conclusive section discusses the new governance regimes of the Swiss HER system.
KeywordsHigh Education Institution Federal Institute Swiss Franc Funding Allocation Governance Regime
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