Canton of St.Gallen approves new university

The Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences – OST for short – will open its doors in 2020 as planned. Voters in the canton of St.Gallen voted overwhelmingly in favor of the new university on Sunday. This will see the merger of three universities of applied sciences, namely FHS St.Gallen, HSR Rapperswil and NTB Buchs.

University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil
Switzerland University of Applied Sciences. Image credit:Roland zh/Wikimedia

Degree courses at the new Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences (OST) will get underway as planned on September 1, 2020. Voters in the canton of St.Gallen voted 81.79 percent in favor of the new university, as announced by the canton. All 77 municipalities said ‘Yes’ to the proposed bill. The participation of the canton was a formal requirement in order for the agreement between the cantons of St.Gallen, Schwyz, Glarus, Ausserrhoden, Innerrhoden and Thurgau in addition to the Principality of Liechtenstein in February 2019 on the establishment of OST to be ratified and enter into force. 

This means that FHS St.Gallen University of Applied Sciences, HSR University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil and NTB University of Applied Sciences Buchs can now be merged. The three locations of St.Gallen, Rapperswil und Buchs will remain, while the management of the new university, its council and conference of sponsors will get to work early in 2020. 

The new OST is designed to replace the existing University of Applied Sciences of Eastern Switzerland, which was originally founded back in 1999. This institute failed to meet the accreditation requirements that entered in force in 2015. Chur University of Applied Sciences has also withdrawn from the original association comprising four institutes of higher education. Since 2018, it has been accredited as an independent university of applied sciences and has since been renamed University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons.

The Chamber of Industry and Commerce of St.Gallen-Appenzell (IHK) welcomes the clear approval from voters in the canton. An IHK press release explained how, in order to ensure compliance with Swiss federal requirements, the organization has been keen to ensure that the three universities of applied sciences in Eastern Switzerland are restructured in a timely and skills-focused manner.

On Sunday, voters in St.Gallen also approved the renovation of the St.Gallen Centre of Vocational Education and Training in addition to the construction of Campus Wattwil, a new project that is set to combine the cantonal and vocational schools.

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