Governance, Compliance and Ethics

Goal by 2023

BFH has implemented a management and control system that is based on the principles of sustainable benefits for stakeholders in accordance with the EFQM model.

Why this topic is relevant for BFH

The governance of BFH as well as regulations in the area of compliance and ethics create the conditions at a superordinate level so that BFH can make a contribution to the (regional) further development of society in accordance with its performance mandate.

A high level of transparency in the area of governance, compliance and ethics increases trust in BFH and strengthens the confidence of stakeholders. Conversely, distrust in the public institution could be fostered in case of non-compliance. Through good governance and public conduct, BFH can act as a role model and live up to its responsibility as an educational institution and driver of sustainable development.

Development of new guiding principles

In 2021, BFH developed six new guiding principles in a participatory process, which are to be understood as an overarching framework of values. They make BFH's values visible and strengthen the university's common understanding. The guiding principles internalise the purpose and value contribution of the BFH as a social actor, serve to build shared communities of values and ideas, and provide the normative framework for the BFH strategy.

Good reports for BFH

In the year under review, as in previous years, the Financial Control of the Canton of Berne, which is responsible for both external and internal auditing, found no violations of laws and regulations and gave BFH a very good report in terms of the control environment. The annual reporting on the implementation of the performance mandate and the associated controlling discussion with the Education and Culture Directorate BKD showed that BFH consistently pursues the goals according to the performance mandate and largely meets or exceeds them.

The 2021 staff survey showed pleasing results in the area of leadership and opportunities for participation. For example, 75% of employees feel that they are treated fairly by their superiors. Satisfaction with the employer is also clearly evident, with 41% very satisfied and 44% somewhat satisfied.

How BFH addresses this topic

For BFH, compliance means acting in accordance with its Profile and its Values and to abide by the legal foundations. The Swiss University Regulations, the Ordinance of Bern University of Applied Sciences and the Charter of BFH provide the legal basis for a university with holistic, high academic and practical standards.

Based on the guiding principles, new principles of conduct will come into force for the entire BFH from 2023. This Code of Conduct will be binding for all BFH employees. BFH-W and HKB already have their own Code of Conduct. The guiding principles and the principles of conduct serve as a normative framework of values. The school council and the BFH management, with the President as chairman, form the highest management bodies for their compliance and control. In the strategic areas of teaching and research, the President is supported by the Vice-Presidents’ Offices.

With regard to legal issues, the internal legal service provides advice to staff and students. Compliance with laws and regulations is a management task and part of the duties of those responsible for these areas.

Staff and students have the option of consulting various internal and external advice centres if necessary.

The planned establishment of a Code of Conduct creates a new basis in the areas of compliance and ethics. Corresponding implementation regulations will in future govern the procedure and responsibilities in the event of violations and infringements of the Code of Conduct.

Broad participation procedures are carried out for strategically important business, and there is an exchange channel between the associations of members' groups and the President, whereby concerns can be brought directly to the BFH management and the University Board. In addition, a university assembly is to be set up in future, in which all groups of members of BFH are represented and which has the right to submit proposals to the President and the University Board. The assembly will create an additional body and further institutionalise the possibility of obtaining advice and expressing concerns.

Within the framework of the institutional accreditation quality assurance in the area of governance is monitored on a recurring basis. In the wake of the last accreditation, the participation of the various groups of members of the BFH was reviewed and comprehensively revised.

An annual external audit by the Cantonal financial control ensures compliance with laws and regulations in accordance with BFH's performance mandate. The report of the financial control is discussed with the President of BFH and presented to the University Board. In addition, the financial control sporadically attends University Board meetings. The Bildungs- und Kulturdirektion of the Canton of Bern acts as the supervisory authority.

Additional internal measures ensure transparent governance, successful compliance and adherence to ethical principles. For example, annual controlling meetings are held with the departments, involving the President the Administrative Director and the heads of the departments.

In the event of violations of the principles of conduct, there are relevant regulations. Disciplinary law is decisive for students, for employees it is personnel law and, in particular, the authority of superiors specified there.