The Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts (SUP) -Fachhochschule, Haute école specialisée- have university status, oriented towards professional training and applied research.
Founded under federal law, SUPSI is an autonomous organisation which was established by Canton Ticino 11th March 1997, and which has integrated preexisting specialised schools along with public and private research institutes. The origins of the oldest of these date back to architecture courses started in 1852 under the initiative of Carlo Cattaneo.
With the integration of the Fernfachhochschule Schweiz in 2004, whose main centre is in Briga (Canton Vallese), SUPSI achieved an intercantonal dimension thanks to the e-learning courses offered in German-speaking Switzerland in the economic and information technology sectors. This dimension was further enhanced with SUPSI’s subsequent affiliation of the Phsyiotherapie Graubünden of Landquart (Canton Grigioni).
Since 2006, with the inauguration of the Department of Health Sciences (now the Department of Business Economics, Health and Social Care), the integration of the Conservatory of Southern Switzerland and the Accademia Teatro Dimitri and, in 2009, the School of Pedagogy (Alta scuola pedagogica) in Locarno (now the Department of Education and Learning), it has been possible at SUPSI to follow almost all of the Bachelor’s Degree curricula of the Swiss professional universities in the social, economic, health, education, pedagogy, construction, technical, design, music and theatre fields.
Today SUPSI offers more than 30 Bachelor’s and Master’s courses of study, as well as continuing education programmes, is attended by thousands of professionals, and carries out applied research in numerous key sectors. SUPSI operates alongside The University of Southern Switzerland (USI), which has a more academic orientation. Together, SUPSI and USI constitute the Italian language university pole in Switzerland, comprising nearly 5,000 students.