The Universities of Applied Sciences (HES) and Universities of Teacher Education (HEP) are tertiary-level practically oriented training and research establishments.

Switzerland’s seven Universities of Applied Sciences are organised on a supra-regional basis and are active in the following fields : technology and information technology, architecture, construction and planning, economy and services, design, health, social work, music, stage and other arts, applied psychology, applied linguistics and sports.

Their mission is practice-based teaching (to BA and for some subjects MA level), applied research, development and continuing education. In addition, they are service providers and collaborate with teaching and research partners in Switzerland and abroad.

The fields of activity of the fourteen Universities of Teacher Education are teacher training for pre-school, primary, and secondary I and II levels, as well as professions in the field of specialist teacher training. Their mission is degree and continuing education, research and development, and service provision.

As opposed to universities, professors account for more than two thirds of teaching staff at HES and HEP establishments. Because of the practical orientation of HES and HEP establishments, PhD holders constitute a minority among professors. The qualifications and research experience, as well as professional practice, currently required in teaching staff recruitment procedures vary from one field to another according to canton and the post in question.

Applied research, development and service provision to third parties form an increasing part of the activity of these establishments. Research in particular is rapidly expanding in the HEP and HES sector, creating attractive professional openings for PhD holders interested in applied research (some tips for finding a job at an HES).

Each site has an applied research and development sector. In addition, research activities are also organised in skills networks.