1996: the Federal University of Applied Sciences Act, the legal framework underpinning Switzerland’s applied universities, comes into force. Its objective is to implement a dual education system in Switzerland at tertiary level and boost the country’s economic performance and innovation. The applied universities will be created by converting and merging existing professional colleges in the various Swiss regions. Central Switzerland files a formal request with the Federal Department of Economic Affairs for the establishment and running of the Fachhochschule Zentralschweiz (FHZ – University of Applied Sciences of Central Switzerland), beginning in the 1997/1998 academic year.
1997: founding of the FHZ as the third of Switzerland’s applied universities after the Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI) in Canton Ticino and the Berner Fachhochschule (BFH) in Canton Bern. Summer 1997 sees the Central Swiss cantonal governments conclude an administrative agreement. The first entities to be established under the new regime are the erstwhile Schools of Engineering and Architecture, and Business. These are followed one after the other by Art and Design, Social Work, and Music.
2001: the first FHZ concordat comes into force.
2003: Switzerland’s Federal Council grants the country’s seven regional applied universities permanent licences to operate.
2005: the European Bologna system launches in Switzerland, including at the applied universities (bachelor: 2005, master: 2008).
2006: the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts adopts the internationally recognised model of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) and achieves the first quality level. In 2010 it becomes the first university in German-speaking Europe to achieve ‘Recognised for Excellence 3*’ certification. In 2016 it receives top honours in the category ‘Creating Value for Customers’ at that year’s ESPRIX Swiss Awards for Excellence, and also becomes the first university in Switzerland and Germany to achieve ‘Recognised for Excellence 5*’ certification.
2007: the FHZ acquires a new trading name: Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
2012: the Alumni Association of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Alumni Hochschule Luzern) is created from the merger of a number of legacy alumni associations: A-FHZ, Alumni HSLU-Wirtschaft, Alumni HSA and F+F HGK. Its aims are to facilitate networking amongst graduates, offer a varied programme of events and promote contact and exchange with the University.
2013: a new FHZ concordat comes into force. The University’s five Schools Engineering and Architecture, Business, Art and Design, Social Work, and Music are placed under the unitary sponsorship of the concordat.
2016: a sixth School – Information Technology – comes into being at a new site in Rotkreuz, Canton Zug. The Lucerne School of Art and Design inaugurates its new premises in Emmenbrücke. The Lucerne School of Music holds a ground-breaking ceremony for new premises at the Südpol in Kriens.
2017: the University – now home to some 10,500 degree and continuing education students and 1600-plus staff – celebrates its 20th anniversary. It has been presided over since 2012 by Markus Hodel, also from 2003 to 2008.
Long tradition of legacy institutions
The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts was founded in 1997 under the name Fachhochschule Zentralschweiz (FHZ – University of Applied Sciences of Central Switzerland), but most of its Schools go back much further than that. The Lucerne School of Art and Design, the oldest such institution in German-speaking Switzerland, is 2017 marking its 140th anniversary (the legacy Kunstgewerbeschule Luzern (Lucerne School of Arts and Crafts) was founded in 1877). The second-oldest entity is the Lucerne School of Social Work: it will be 100 years old in 2018. The Konservatorium Luzern and the Akademie für Schul- und Kirchenmusik, two of the legacy institutions that ultimately became the Lucerne School of Music, were founded 75 years ago. The Zentralschweizer Technikum (Central Swiss Technical College – now the Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture) opened in 1958. The Lucerne School of Business can look back to 1971 and the founding of the Höhere Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungsschule (Higher School of Economics and Business Administration). The youngest of the six Schools is the Lucerne School of Information Technology, which began operations in autumn 2016; its degree programmes were previously offered by its sister Schools Engineering and Architecture, and Business.