Could Webster University have to rename itself?

By Sarah Zeines

A change in the Swiss Higher Education Act, which aims to coordinate, maintain the quality, and ensure the competitiveness of the entire higher education sector in Switzerland, has prompted several schools to apply for a federal accreditation. Without the national government’s stamp of approval, schools with the word “university” in their title need to revise their denomination, instead using appellations such as “institute” or “school”.

Webster University is widely considered to be one of the most respected private education institutions in Geneva. Established here in 1978, Webster delivers PhDs, and its credits are recognized by several higher education institutions around the world, including some Ivy League colleges in the US. We understand that Webster University also applied for accreditation, before deciding not to follow through.

Webster initially mandated the Swiss Agency of Accreditation and Quality Assurance (AAQ) for its accreditation request, before pulling out mid-process. “It was a close call, but the school’s board eventually decided to amend different aspects of its organization to improve the school’s chances of success,” explains Christoph Grolimund, AAQ director.

“Formally we have not refused Webster’s accreditation, since there has been no decision from the SAC,” notes Bastien Brodard, the organization’s spokesperson. “AAQ has simply informed the SAC that the school decided to withdraw its application.”

It is not clear if the institution will be able to continue operation as Webster University without accreditation. Webster’s Director-General Ryan Guffey has not replied to The G|O’s repeated requests for comment.