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Management staff for higher education


10.Management and other education staff

10.5Management staff for higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Recruitment conditions

As the maintaining bodies for the cantonal universities, universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education, the cantons are responsible for the recruitment of the management staff. The Confederation is responsible for the federal institutes of technology. The management structures and recruitment conditions are accordingly marked by a variety of institution-specific solutions. Depending on the higher education institution the organisational structures, tasks and titles of management staff are regulated differently.

At higher education institutions a council (e.g. university council or university of applied sciences council) is generally responsible for the strategic management, while the operational management rests on the university administration (e.g. rector’s office) – in some cases in cooperation with a senate (professors, research assistants, students). The university administration consists of several members and is elected for a fixed term of office. As a rule a rector chairs the university administration. The rector’s office is partly divided into different sub-departments (e.g. for research, teaching or development). In addition, different services are usually affiliated to the rector’s office (e.g. for communication, law, quality assurance) which support the administration in its managerial functions. Other possible internal university bodies include the heads of the faculties, institutes or affiliated schools, and departments.


Employment conditions

Management staff at higher education institutions are public-law employees of the community. The relevant provisions of the Swiss Code of Obligations apply to their employment, provided the staff provisions at federal or at cantonal level do not lay down different rules.

Vacant management posts are advertised publicly in the appropriate media. Appointment is dependent on meeting the appropriate requirements (education and training, professional and management experience). Employment contracts are usually permanent. Salaries are based on the category to which the employment contract is assigned. The requirement profile is taken into account in this process. Salary categories vary depending on the maintaining canton. The salary provisions for the higher education institutions of the Confederation are governed uniformly. Holiday entitlement is between 5 and 6 weeks per year. Weekly working hours are generally 42 hours for full-time employees.

Employment may end inter alia through resignation, where a statutory employment condition ceases to exist, retirement, or at the end of an employment period in the case of a fixed-term contract.

An employment contract may be ended by:  

  • ordinary termination of the employment contract by resigning, for which grounds must be provided. The grounds must be directly connected with the employment, objective and of some importance. The employment contract can only be terminated giving a specific period of notice;
  • extraordinary termination: the employment contract ends without giving notice. The grounds must be serious and continued employment unacceptable. The following grounds may be given inter alia: incompetence or serious abuses at work or off-duty conduct which is not compatible with the teaching post.

Individuals can terminate their employment themselves, giving the required notice (between 3 and 6 months).

For retirement the same rules apply in principle as to all employees: in Switzerland women retire at 64, men at 65. Early retirement and pensions are possible – with corresponding reductions in the pension. However, there is no automatic entitlement to early retirement. In some cases management staff can also work beyond the official pension age.