The OAQ began its work on 1 October 2001. The basis for its mandate is formed by the Federal Law on Financial Aid to Universities (UFG, SR 414.20)and Cooperation in Matters Relating to Universities of 8 October 1999 (UFG), the Intercantonal Convention on Coordinating University Policy of 9 December 1999 and the Cooperation Agreement between the Federal Government and University Cantons on Matters Relating to Universities (SR 414.205) of 14 December 2000.
In accordance with the relevant legal provisions, the OAQ has been charged with assuring and promoting the quality of teaching and research at Swiss academic institutions. To this end the OAQ carries out quality evaluations, establishes guidelines for internal quality assurance at academic institutions and provides the relevant services.
The OAQ fulfils a number of tasks relating to quality assurance and accreditation at the behest of the Swiss University Conference (SUK/CUS), the body responsible for coordinating university-related activities of the federal government and cantons throughout Switzerland. It develops guidelines and quality standards for academic accreditation in Switzerland and carries out accreditation procedures on the basis of Guidelines introduced by the SUK/CUS. It participates in international collaboration in the field of accreditation and quality assurance. It may participate in an advisory function in evaluations carried out by the universities on their own responsibility and organize evaluations of specific disciplines in consultation with the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS).
The OAQ carries out quality evaluations on behalf of the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) under the qualifying procedure for financial support stipulated by the Federal Law on Financial Aid to Universities and Cooperation in Matters Relating to Universities. The qualifying procedure stipulated by the UFG requires quality audits at all cantonal universities to be carried out every four years which focus on the quality assurance systems operated by the universities.