Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences («OST») is an independent legal entity with the right to self-governance operating across cantonal and state borders. The legal basis underpinning the institution is the Agreement on the OST – Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences, ratified on February 15, 2019. 

The cantons of St. Gallen, Schwyz, Glarus, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden and Thurgau, along with the Principality of Liechtenstein, are the sponsors of the University. Each of the sponsoring regions delegates a representative to the Sponsors' Conference, a committee designed to facilitate political cooperation on matters concerning OST. 

The University Board of Trustees is the strategic management of OST. Council members are selected by the governments of the respective sponsoring regions. The day-to-day operations of OST are managed by the Executive Board.