Sustainable development

Higher Education and Research for Sustainable development


IAU recognizes the key role higher education and research could and should play in the overall process of achieving sustainable development. Leaders of higher education institutions, the academic and administrative staff, the students and other stakeholders are in a key position to contribute to an equitable and ecologically sound future by making sustainable development a central academic and organisational focus.

This requires the generation and dissemination of knowledge through interdisciplinary research and teaching, policy-making, capacity-building, and technology transfer. It is critical that higher education institutions understand and accept their responsibility within the broader context of social and economic development, and the building of democratic, equitable and ecologically-minded societies.

Against this backdrop, and noting a sense of urgency, IAU adopted Higher Education and Sustainable Development as one of its priority themes since 1993 (See: IAU 1993 Kyoto Declaration on Sustainable Development). This was confirmed in particular at the IAU 2014 International Conference on Blending Higher Education and Traditional Knowledge for Sustainable Development, Universidad Cientifica del Peru (UCP), Lima, Peru, which resulted in the drafting and adoption of the IAU Iquitos Statement on Higher Education for Sustainable Development.

For over twenty years, the Association developed projects, took part in international or regional initiatives and regularly organizes events on this theme to promote and facilitate universities' responsibility with regard to sustainability and mobilises the higher education community it represents to develop initiatives relevant both locally and globally.

The IAU 15th General Conference on Higher Education a Catalyst for Innovative and Sustainable Societies took place in Bangkok in November 2016.

More can be found on in the IAU portal on HESD:


The IAU HESD global portal contributes to facilitate exchange and networking on HESD across the world. Actions and initiatives developed and undertaken by Universities, other Higher education institutions and organisations from around the world are showcased in a synthetic way. The HESD Portal is accessible online at:

Comments, suggestions, news and initiatives are published on the portal – precedence is given to IAU Members.


IAU actions and initiatives contributed in substance to the United Nations - Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (UN-DESD) - 2005-2014. IAU took an active part in the UNESCO World Conference on Education for sustainable development (Aichi-Nagoya, Japan, 2014) and is now in a key partner network of the UNESCO Global Action Programme (GAP) . IAU’s work plan for the next decade is to contribute to address the Sustainable Development Goals and to the 2030 Development Agenda.

Year round

All through, IAU develops initiatives and projects, contributes to key international events and focuses its international conferences entirely or in part on this topic.

IAU represents its Members on several committees, including: • the UNESCO GAP; • the Ubuntu Committee of peers; • the Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs); * the SULITEST • UNEP / GUPES

To learn more and to get involved please contact:

Dr. Hilligje van’t Land, IAU Director Membership and Programme Development

Frédérique Herzog, IAU Programme Officer


IAU first HESD Global Survey

The first edition of the IAU Global Survey on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD) was developed in 2016 in order to: connect with IAU Members; research and analyze what their approaches are to sustainable development; determine how IAU can exchange and enhance such initiatives; advocate for HESD worldwide. The survey was opened from June 2016 to October 2016 and the results were presented by Dr. Hilligje Van't Land, IAU Deputy Secretary General, in various fora, including during the IAU 15th General Conference in Bangkok in November 2016. We received 120 responses in total (97% from IAU Members); 18% of our Members participated and all continents were represented. Take a look at the results here.

IAU 15th General Conference “Higher Education: A Catalyst for Innovative and Sustainable Societies”

From November 13 to 16 2016, the IAU held its 15th General Conference in Bangkok; it was hosted by a consortium of Thai universities. More than 300 participants from 85 nations worldwide took part in the event and engaged in lively debates. The Conference presentations and other conference materials are available on the Conference website.

IAU is Key Partner to the UNESCO Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (GAP) on Action Area 2: Transforming learning and training environments

IAU 2014 International Conference on Blending Higher Education and Traditional Knowledge for Sustainable Development
Organized in collaboration with the Universidad Científica del Perú, Iquitos, Peru, the Conference addressed key Education for Sustainable Development issues and helped shape IAU’s position with regard to the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Presentations and other conference documents are available online.

IAU 2014 Iquitos Statement on Higher Education for Sustainable Development

Following the IAU 2014 International Conference on Blending Higher Education and Traditional Knowledge for Sustainable Development, held in Iquitos, Peru,and through this Statement, Members of the International Association of Universities (IAU) as well as representatives of the broader higher education community, reaffirm their commitment to the role of higher education in the transition to more sustainable societies and to pursuing sustainable development within and through their respective institutions.

As the United Nations Decade on Education for Sustainable Development comes to an end, and the Millennium Development Goals near their scheduled completion, the post-2015 Agenda is being shaped. The higher education community is ready to contribute to the development and implementation of the post-2015 Agenda.

It is IAU's community's shared belief that only with the full engagement of higher education in the post-2015 Agenda will it be possible to create the intellectual, economic, environmental and cultural conditions required for a sustainable future for all. IAU applauds the commitments and promises made at the world events held in Stockholm, 1972, Rio de Janeiro, 1992, Johannesburg, 2002 and "Rio + 20", 2012, to make our world better for all, for present and future generations. It renews its commitment to Higher Education for Sustainable Development and agrees to develop new actions and strengthen current initiatives to respond proactively to these resolutions and recommendations.

Promotion of Sustainable Development by Sub-Saharan African Higher Education Institutions

The Global University Network for Innovation (GUNI), the International Association of Universities(IAU) and the Association of African Universities(AAU) developed a project on the Promotion of Sustainable Development by Sub-Saharan African Higher Education Institutions. The project was financed in part by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation.

The final report of the project is available on the GUNi website. It presents an overview of actions, experiences and practices developed at sub-Saharan higher education institutions (HEIs) to integrate sustainable development considerations within their activities; it identifies the emerging trends and the priority lines of action for the integration of sustainable development considerations in the work of Sub-Saharan African HEIs and raises awareness about the important role of HEIs for promoting sustainable development in the region.

Global Survey on Sustainable Lifestyles

A research project aiming at analyzing student perspectives on Sustainable Lifestyles was undertaken in 2009. The Project, coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with the support of the Swedish Ministry of the Environment, was developed in partnership with the IAU. The Global Survey on Sustainable Lifestyles was an ambitious initiative meant to explore how sustainable lifestyles, a challenge for present and future generations, are perceived, envisaged and shaped by young adults from different cultures and backgrounds around the world.

The project was part of the activities carried out in the framework of the Marrakech Process, a global multi-stakeholder platform aimed at promoting the shift towards Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP). The Marrakech Process builds cooperation between governments and various stakeholders for the development of SCP tools, methodologies and concrete activities such as the Global Survey on Sustainable Lifestyles.

A selection of 50 Higher Education Institutions, Members of IAU, took part in this project.

The publication: Visions for Change - Recommendations for Effective Policies on Sustainable Lifestyles: Country Papers is available online

Sustainability Communications - A Toolkit for Marketing and Advertising Courses- A IAU-UNEP CD-Rom.

IAU and the United Nations Environment Programme - Paris (UNEP) jointly produced a CD-ROM on Sustainability Communications - A Toolkit for Marketing and Advertising Courses.

It provides resources on Sustainability Communications for educators training tomorrow's marketing and communication professionals as well as for marketing and advertising trainers in the corporate field. It is a flexible, interactive tool which provides a synthesis of theoretical and methodological knowledge illustrated by specific case studies. It offers numerous pedagogical resources - short presentations, campaign analyses, exercises, web links, bibliographies and more than 300 downloadable documents - to encourage students and communication experts to engage with sustainable development-- one of the major issues facing society today.

The CD-ROM: 1. Demonstrates and analyzes the marketing and communications potential of sustainable development in the framework of corporate social and environmental responsibility; 2. Allows the current and future marketing and communication professionals to become fully aware of the key role they could and should play by responding to new consumer demand for sustainability through the promotion of sustainable products and services; 3. Provides the necessary tools to develop both effective corporate communications strategies that build confidence in greener brands and powerful marketing campaigns on sustainable goods.

The CD-ROM contains both English and French versions. It is downloadable online

GHESP - Global Alliance to promote higher education for sustainable development (2002-2007)

In 2002, four international organisations with a strong commitment to making sustainability a major focus of higher education formed a Global Higher Education for Sustainability Partnership (GHESP).

The four founding partners of the initiative - the IAU, the University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF) and UNESCO - joined forces to mobilise universities and higher education institutions to support sustainable development in response to Chapter 36 of Agenda 21.

The partnership which came about as a result of the work program of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and in anticipation of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), was based on the consensus that higher education must play a central role within the overall process of achieving sustainable development. The partnership ended due to lack of funding yet former partners are still convinced that the leaders of higher education institutions and their academic colleagues in all disciplines are to adopt sustainable development as a central academic and organizational focus to create a just, equitable and ecologically sound future. This requires the generation and dissemination of knowledge through interdisciplinary research and teaching, policy-making, capacity-building, and technology transfer. It is critical that higher education institutions understand and accept their responsibility within the broader context of social and economic development, and the building of democratic, equitable and ecologically-minded societies.

The objectives of the partnership were to:

  1. Promote better understanding, and more effective implementation of strategies for the incorporation of sustainable development in universities and other higher education institutions, beginning with the over 1000 signatories to the charters and declarations sponsored by the partner organizations. Emphasis is put on the need for interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and research;
  2. Undertake a global review and assessment of progress in making sustainability central to curriculum, research, outreach and operations in institutions of higher education. In so doing, assist UNESCO in its role within the UN system with respect to education for sustainable development;
  3. Identify, share and disseminate widely, via internet, in print, through seminars and other venues, effective strategies, models and good practices for promoting higher education for sustainable development (HESD);
  4. Make recommendations on HESD based on the partnership's research and review and in consultation with key stakeholders from North and South, including business, governments, other UN bodies such as the United Nations University (UNU), as well as other relevant non-governmental organizations;
  5. Demonstrate that it is possible to form a partnership of non-governmental organizations working closely with the UN system to develop and implement a joint action plan addressed to achieve common goals; and analyze this experience as an international demonstration project.

After having initiated projects and other activities for more than 5 years, the partnership ceased its activities due to lack of financial support.

IAU 2003 International Prague Conference on Education for a Sustainable future Shaping the practical role of higher education for sustainable development, was hosted by Charles University, in Prague, and helped shaped IAU work in support of HESD.

IAU 1993 Kyoto Declaration on Sustainable Development

Following the Ninth IAU Round Table, in Tokyo, Japan, on 19 November 1993, Participants adopted, the IAU Kyoto Declaration committed to the following:

  1. To urge universities world-wide to seek, establish and disseminate a clearer understanding of Sustainable Development - "development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations" - and encourage more appropriate sustainable development principles and practices at the local, national and global levels, in ways consistent with their missions.
  2. To utilize resources of the university to encourage a better understanding on the part of Governments and the public at large of the inter-related physical, biological and social dangers facing the planet Earth, and to recognise the significant interdependence and international dimensions of sustainable development.
  3. To emphasize the ethical obligation of the present generation to overcome those practices of resource utilisation and those widespread disparities which lie at the root of environmental unsustainability.
  4. To enhance the capacity of the university to teach and undertake research and action in society in sustainable development principles, to increase environmental literacy, and to enhance the understanding of environmental ethics within the university and with the public at large.
  5. To cooperate with one another and with all segments of society in the pursuit of practical and policy measures to achieve sustainable development and thereby safeguard the interests of future generations.
  6. To encourage universities to review their own operations to reflect best sustainable development practices.
  7. To request the IAU Administrative Board to consider and implement the ways and means to give life to this Declaration in the mission of each of its members and through the common enterprise of the IAU.

It is recommended that each university, in its own action plan, strive to:

  1. Make an institutional commitment to the principle and practice of sustainable development within the academic milieu and to communicate that commitment to its students, its employees and to the public at large;
  2. Promote sustainable consumption practices in its own operations;
  3. Develop the capacities of its academic staff to teach environmental literacy;
  4. Encourage among both staff and students an environmental perspective, whatever the field of study;
  5. Utilise the intellectual resources of the university to build strong environmental education programs;
  6. Encourage interdisciplinary and collaborative research programs related to sustainable development as part of the institution's central mission and to overcome traditional barriers between discipline's and departments;
  7. Emphasize the ethical obligations of the immediate university community - current students, faculty and staff - to understand and defeat the forces that lead to environmental degradation, North-South disparities, and the inter-generational inequities; to work at ways that will help its academic community, and the graduates, friends and governments that support it, to accept these ethical obligations;
  8. Promote interdisciplinary networks of environmental experts at the local, national and international level in order to disseminate knowledge and to collaborate on common environmental projects in both research and education;
  9. Promote the mobility of staff and students as essential to the free trade of knowledge;
  10. Forge partnerships with other sectors of society in transferring innovative and appropriate technologies that can benefit and enhance sustainable development practices.

In adopting this Declaration, delegates underlined specifically the following points:

  1. That sustainable development must not be interpreted in a manner that would lead to sustained undevelopment; for certain systems, thus blocking their legitimate aspiration to raise their standard of living.
  2. That sustainable development must take into consideration existing disparities in consumption and distribution patterns, with unsustainable over-consumption in some parts of the world contrasting with dramatic states of depravation in others.
  3. That global sustainable development implies changes of existing value systems, a task UN which universities have an essential mission, in order to create the necessary international consciousness and global sense of responsibility and solidarity.
  4. That university cooperation for sustainable development must also assure that universities from countries with insufficient proper resources may play an active role in the process.
  5. That IAU, through the intellectual and organisational potential of the Association, its clearinghouse, catalyst and network function, has a major role to play in the implementation of this Declaration.

Working Group on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (2016-2020)

Terms of Reference

  • Provide advice on on-going IAU activities and projects in the area of HESD;
  • Propose and elaborate new actions and projects the Association could undertake to mobilize and assist its membership to share information and learn from each other as they develop strategies to:

    • Develop projects aiming at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set for the 2030 Development Agenda
    • Assist IAU as Key partner to the UNESCO Global Action Programme (GAP)
    • develop a whole of institution approach to SD
    • Include SD in curriculum, in research and administration
    • Develop 'greening' policies and practices
    • Launch public information campaigns about SD
    • Conduct research projects that can contribute to knowledge about SD
  • Advise the IAU Secretariat on requests for partnership and collaboration on SD related projects;

  • Review and consider updating the IAU Kyoto Declaration of principles concerning SD;
  • Bring key HE for SD news, events and information on important activities to the attention of the Secretariat for further dissemination to the higher education community;
  • Represent the Association on SD related committees and at topical country specific, regional or international conferences;
  • Help raise awareness for HESD in the Members countries and regions.


IAU works on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD) since it adopted the Kyoto Declaration on Sustainable Development in 1993. Since then, IAU develops initiatives and projects, contributes to key international conferences and focuses own conferences on this topic. Key partners for IAU in this area are UNESCO, UNU-IAS, COPERNICUS Alliance, UNEP-GUPES, AAU, among others.

IAU Working Group Members sit on several committees (such as the Ubuntu Committee of peers, the Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs), the UN-DESD Reference Group, UVED, SULITEST).

IAU President

  • Pam FREDMAN, Rector, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Chair of the IAU HESD Working Group

  • Pornchai MONGKHONVANIT, President, Siam University, Thailand

Members IAU Working Group on HESD

  • Ranbir SINGH, Vice-Chancellor, National Law University, India
  • Mahmoud Nili AHMADABDI, President, University of Tehran, Iran
  • Mohammad Reza POURMOHAMMADI, Chancellor, The University of Tabriz, Iran
  • Dzulkifli ABDUL RAZAK, Former Vice-Chancellor Universiti Sains Malaysia and Former Vice-Chancellor, Albukhary International University, Malaysia
  • Roberto ESCALANTE SEMERENA, Secretary-General, UDUAL, Mexico
  • Salvador VEGA Y LEON, Rector, Autonomous Metropolitan University, Mexico
  • Mirta MARTIN, President, Fort Hays State University, USA

IAU Secretariat

Global Higher Education Portal on Higher Education for Sustainable Development (HESD)

IAU Global Portal on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD)

The IAU Portal on HESD is a collaborative platform centralizing and disseminating information on activities and actions promoting sustainable development undertaken by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) around the world.
The portal provides links to as many examples that HEIs can consult and use to develop their own strategies / activities / actions.

The HESD Portal is accessible online at:

Target Audience

  • The higher education community as a whole: higher education institutions, academia, students, HE administrators and other interested parties and/or contributors
  • All other interested stakeholders: intergovernmental organisations, NGOs, Ministries of Education, school administrators and teachers as visitors

Two types of use

  • The users: HE leaders, academics, administrators, students and other stakeholders can search for actions, projects, or documents; read the latest news and latest additions featured on the portal.
  • The contributors: HE leaders, academics, administrators, students and other stakeholders can share information and promote their work by entering related projects and documents, using the submission form.

Portal Content, in both English and French

  • Description of actions towards sustainability as undertaken by HEIs, organisations and the civil society;
  • A map geolocalizing HEIs and Organisations activively promoting sustainable development;
  • Database linking to key charts, declarations on HESD, other key documents;
  • Global Calendar of events

Why contribute?

The HESD Portal is a collaborative portal, it will be all the more useful if leaders, academics, students and other HESD stakeholders enter information on their projects, expertise, theses and publications, and share their news with the IAU Working Group on HESD. Your input is the key to success.

A second reason to contribute is: the portal is a direct contribution to the UNESCO Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (UNESCO GAP). IAU is a key partner network to Priority Action 2: Transforming learning and training environments.

The portal offers your institution and your work to become know and shared. Become involved and send us information on the work you undertake to respond to the SDGs and the 2030 Development agenda.

Benefits for your university

  • full benefit for actions/documents/etc, submitted and
  • full visibility online and during the Conference and beyond.

Participation is free of charge with full visibility for IAU Members; your input will not be re-used without your prior consent.


Dr. Hilligje van’t Land, IAU Director Membership and Programme Development

Frédérique Herzog, IAU Programme Officer

Access and success


Equitable Access and Success in Higher Education has been one of IAU priority theme for the past five years. In 2008, the IAU General Conference adopted a new Policy Statement entitled Equitable Access and Success in Quality Higher Education (which has now been signed and endorsed by many university associations from around the world). Moving from statement to action, IAU has recently worked on a new project.


In responding to the multiple imperatives that drive our global knowledge-based economy and society, national governments recognize the need for high quality higher education for all. Preparing its citizens for the 21st century by sustaining or developing a globally competitive research/innovation base and raising employability skills are goals pursued by most, despite different national contexts. Gaining access to learning, and successful participation in higher education is becoming essential for all.

Against this backdrop, and noting a renewed sense of urgency, IAU adopted the issues of Equitable Access and Success in Higher Education as one if its priority themes during the 69th IAU Administrative Board Meeting (Alexandria, Egypt, November 12-15, 2005). It mandated an international Task Force of experts, to further the work on this topic. During the three following years, the IAU Secretariat and the Task Force worked jointly on the design of a new Policy Statement and, in 2008, the IAU General Conference adopted Equitable Access and Success in Quality Higher Education as the IAU latest Policy Statement. To learn more about the preparation of this Policy statement please click here.

2014/2015 - The IAU supports the GAPS initiative

Global Access to Postsecondary Education (GAPS) aims to bring together those from across sectors and countries to meet this global challenge via advocacy and action. It has 5 objectives:

  1. To make the evidence based case for increasing access to post-secondary education.
  2. To instigate the cultural transformation in organizations necessary to achieve our vision.
  3. To build a global network committed to increasing access to postsecondary education from the public, private, voluntary sectors and policymakers
  4. To place students and young people at the core of efforts to improve access to and success in postsecondary education.
  5. To initiate innovative exemplar projects supporting participation in postsecondary education which can be scaled up globally.

GAPS began in October 2013 at the first World Congress on Access to Postsecondary Education held in Montreal. Almost 250 people from nearly 40 countries around the world came together to explore the challenges associated with widening access to postsecondary education. GAPS is led by a consortium of organizations including the International Association of Universities, the Lumina Foundation and Educational Testing Service (ETS) from the USA, NEON (National Education Opportunities Network) in England and the ECHO Foundation from the Netherlands, and supported by the European Access Network (EAN). To learn more about this initiative please visit its website:

2013 - The IAU participated in two major initiatives

A. The first World Congress on Access to Postsecondary Education

Participants World Congress wshp With the approval of the Administrative Board, and using funds from the ISIC Award, the IAU issued an invitation to all institutional Members in Good Standing to come forward if they were interested in taking part in a similar exercise as in 2010, namely undertake a self-assessment and participate in an international workshop to share lessons learned and their experiences with others. The Call for Expressions of interest was issued in February 2013 and more than 65 IAU Members responded positively.

During the first stage, the selected institutions (10) used a revised version of the self-assessment tool and reported their findings to IAU. This second project helped IAU to test the validity and usefulness of the instrument in a variety of contexts. The IAU compiled the results and prepared a report on equitable access and success policies and programmes in this sample of HEIs.

The second stage of the project brought the representatives of the participating universities together for a half-day workshop where they compared and contrasted their experiences on specific themes related to equitable access and success in HE. This workshop was part of the programme of the first World Congress on Access to Postsecondary Education: Connected the Unconnected (7-10 October 2013, Montreal, QC, Canada - organized by the European Access Network (EAN). Through this IAU - EAN partnership, IAU Members were also able to take part of the Congress at reduced rates. The outcomes of the workshop discussion were also presented during the Congress. To access the report of this IAU project please click here.

B. Developing a multi-dimensional analysis of Romanian HEIs with a focus on access and social cohesion policies

A second activity within this priority theme was a project in Romania. The Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding (UEFISCDI) invited the Secretary General of IAU to coordinate a study on higher education policy on social cohesion both at state and at institutional level. This was part of the country’s recent higher education reforms which involved the development of a classification of HEIs and a ranking of study programs managed by UEFISCDI. The study in which IAU was involved was part of a large project to increase the capacity of public administration for evidence-based policy making: “Higher Education Evidence Based Policy Making: a necessary premise for progress in Romania”.
IAU was asked to work on two dimensions: internationalization of higher education and equity/social cohesion. It was agreed that two distinct working groups composed of Romanian and international experts would each focus on one of these two areas, both coordinated by IAU and supported by IAU and UEFISCDI staff.

The project methodology in both areas was the same and included workshops, policy analysis and case studies by 3-4 Romanian universities, site visits and a conference. In the case of equity and social cohesion, the IAU self-assessment instrument on equity in access and success was used by the selected Romanian universities, having been adapted to some extent to the Romanian context. The expected results of this initiative included an overview of Romanian institutional policy with regard to equity and social cohesion paying special attention to overarching trends or consistent omissions that could be addressed in policy recommendations; an analysis of Romanian national policy with regard to this area; and, based on the findings at both levels, a set of policy recommendations targeted at policy makers in public institutions, the National Ministry of Education and other agencies. A final conference, on equity and equality of chances was organized as a stakeholders’ consultation and dissemination event for this activity in November 2013.

IAU-identified experts included Jamil Salmi formerly of the World Bank who had worked with IAU on the pilot project mentioned-below, Mary Tupan-Wenno, President of the European Access Network (EAN) (the Netherlands), and Claudio Dondi, President SCIENTER (Italy). The project was coordinated by Eva Egron-Polak in collaboration with Élodie Boisfer.

2012 - ISIC 2012 Award

ISIC Award 2012 On 23 May 2012, the Association received the 2012 ISIC Award (see: recognition for its work to promote issues of widening participation and success in higher education which began with the statement mentioned above. The IAU received €20,000.00 to support the continuation of its work to reduce barriers to education opportunities.

2011 - IAU Annual international Conference: Strategies for Securing Equity in Access and Success in Higher Education

The IAU 2011 International Conference was hosted by Kenyatta University (KU) in Nairobi, Kenya from 14 to 16 November 2012. It examined the extent to which government and institutional policies and programs around the world seek and succeed in responding to the imperative of increasing equitable access and success in higher education. The goals are clear and easily stated. Achieving the objectives is far more complex and requires clarity of purpose, shared commitment, adequate resources and expertise and time.

To learn more about this conference, to glance through the programme and read some of the presentations, please click here.

2010 - IAU Pilot Project

Ten higher education institutions in Asia and the Americas joined the IAU pilot project on Equitable Access and Success in Quality Higher Education designed to learn more about and share lessons about institutional approaches to improving both entry and progression for students from under-represented groups.

Working in collaboration with members of its international Task Force, the IAU designed an Institutional Self-Assessment Instrument to enable institutions to examine their policies and programs for improving access and success for learners from usually marginalized groups. The questionnaire is also designed to help universities collect information and analyze their practices in this area. The ten pilot institutions are from ten different countries in the Americas and Asia and are quite diverse in profile. This pilot project received support from the World Bank. The results obtained allowed the IAU to produce a comparative review of access and success programs in the pilot universities.

Workshop participants On 18 and 19 November 2010, the International Association of Universities, the University of Arizona and The World Bank co-organized, with the support of Lumina Foundation (USA), a two-day workshop in Tucson (Arizona, USA) bringing together representatives of the universities involved in the IAU pilot project, as well as Members of the IAU Task Force and several other experts from the United States and the United Kingdom.

This workshop was designed to probe further the findings of the 10 universities which undertook a critical self-assessment of their policies and practices in regards with the issues of equitable access and success (retention). It also served as an opportunity for the participating HEIs to meet and learn from each other. How do institutions attract learners who are in one way or another marginalized in their nations? Who are these under-represented minorities? How do institutions assess their potential and how do they accompany these students’ progress were among some of the questions guiding the discussion over these two days.

The Workshop participants were Rectors, Vice Rectors, and senior leaders responsible for policy development in this area. They were also invited to critically review the Institutional Self-Assessment Instrument developed by IAU and applied by them in preparation for the Workshop. Testing this instrument among a highly diverse set of pilot universities was deemed a way to help IAU determine the potential for an even more generalized use of this tool around the globe.

Last but not least, this meeting was an opportunity for the IAU with its Task Force, partners and participating universities, to determine what next steps as well as other initiatives the Association could develop to pursue the ‘equitable access and success agenda’. A brief report of the workshop is also available.

If you would like to share information on Access and Success (upcoming conferences, articles, seminars, research papers, innovative policies, effective practices etc.) please contact:


2010 / 2011 - Equitable Chances: IAU’s Actions to Promote Access and Success in Higher Education

Equitable Chances A new booklet, summarizing the IAU’s work on the theme of Equitable Access and Success in higher education was produced in 2011.

Following the adoption of the Policy Statement entitled Equitable Access and Success in Quality Higher Education (please see below), the IAU launched, in 2010, a pilot project on the issues of equitable access and success. Ten pilot HEIs from Asia and the Americas took part in the project designed to learn what approaches these institutions put in place to improve both entry and progression for students from under-represented groups (to learn more about this project, please click [here].

This booklet was produced and introduced on the occasion of the IAU 2011 International Conference in Kenya, and was disseminated to all the IAU Members in February 2012. It presents the actions and results the Association has achieved so far in regards to the twin issues of equitable access and success in higher education. This pilot project benefited from the on-going advice of the IAU international Task Force focusing on Access and success. The IAU also gratefully accepted financial and in-kind support from the World Bank, Lumina Foundation and the University of Arizona.

To download the booklet, please click here

2008 - Policy Statement:

Equitable Access, Success and Quality in Higher Education: A Policy Statement by the International Association of Universities advocates a number of key principles upheld by IAU and includes recommendations for both higher education institutions and governments. It is the result of a broad-based consultation among IAU Members and experts, which probably explains the ease with which the Statement was approved and adopted at the 13th IAU General Conference, July 15-18, 2008 in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

This newest IAU Policy Statement has been widely disseminated to IAU Members as well as to all national, regional and international associations of universities, IAU invites endorsement of the Statement by those interested and committed to its principles. The Statement has also been sent to UNESCO in the hope that its substance may provide input to the deliberations and final outcomes of the World Conference on Higher Education, organised by UNESCO’s Higher Education Division for July 2009, in Paris, France.

The Policy Statement has been endorsed by the following:

  • American Council on Education (ACE)
  • American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)
  • The Association of African Universities (AAU)
  • Association of Arab Universities (AArU)
  • Association of National Universities of Taiwan, China, Taiwan
  • Association of Universities of Bangladesh
  • Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU)
  • Association Suisse des Enseignant-e-s d'Université
  • European Access Network (EAN)
  • Heads of Universities Committee (HUCOM), China, Hong Kong
  • Universities Denmark
  • Universities Australia

Should your association wish to endorse this Policy Statement, please contact:

Working Group

This Working Group is chaired by a member of the Administrative Board and can, in addition to Administrative Board members, include experts from any IAU Member institution or organization. Building on the IAU policy Statement: Equitable Access, Success and Quality in Higher Education and the related activities, the Working Group advises the Administrative Board and the Secretary General on possible actions that would improve IAU’s contribution to the efforts of widening participation and success in higher education by all learners and especially those from groups otherwise less represented. The Working Group provides recommendations on how to extend the work undertaken by IAU to date and is also invited to propose new avenues to pursue by the Association within this policy area in the interest of IAU Members. The Chair and Members of the Working Group are:


  • Hope C. SADZA, Vice-Chancellor, Women's University in Africa, Zimbabwe


  • Manuel J. FERNOS, President, Inter American University of Puerto Rico
  • Sir Howard NEWBY, Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool, UK
  • Remus PRICOPIE, Minister of Education and Former Rector, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania
  • Godehard RUPPERT, Chairman, Bavarian University Association, Germany
  • Juan TOBIAS, Rector, University of Salvador, Argentina

IAU Secretariat

  • Eva Egron-Polak, Secretary General
  • Élodie Boisfer, Programme Officer


Selected Bibliography on Equitable Access and Success in Higher Education1:


Access and equity: comparative perspectives / Heather Eggins. - Rotterdam : Sense, 2010 . - 169 p. References.Tables. - ISBN 9789460911842

The next 25 years : affirmative action in the United States and South Africa / David L Featherman, Martin Hall, Marvin Krislov, Eds. . - Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, 2010 . - 389 p. ISBN 978-0-472-03377-5
Abstract: This book explores the history and future place of affirmative action in higher education. Comparative essays describe debates in the United States and South Africa to elucidate the legal, political, social, economic and moral dimensions of affirmative action in higher education and its role in creating a more equitable society. While affirmative action policies have been restricted in the United States by the Constitution, in South Africa equity policies are legally required to address continuing disadvantage. The historic and legal contexts in which affirmative action arose in both countries is described and the key legal rulings concerning affirmative action policies at universities presented. The contribution of higher education participation to labour market access and social mobility is also examined. In South Africa, despite increasing participation by black students, a two-tiered higher education system persists. The book also explores research on the importance of student diversity on intellectual engagement, academic achievement and civic engagement. Finally, the book discusses whether there is a continued need for affirmative action.

The Perpetual Education Fund: providing higher education loans in the voluntary sector / Benjamin J. Lough . - In: International Journal of Educational Development, v. 30, no. 4, pp. 345-350, 2010 Incl. abstract, bibl. . - ISSN 0738-0593
Abstract : Although many strategies are proposed to reduce the opportunity gap in higher education between and within countries, student loans with cost recovery measures are often preferred during times of fiscal constraint. This study briefly reviews the benefits and challenges of student loans over other forms of financial aid and presents the case for voluntary sector involvement in contexts where government and market failures constrain effective solutions. It describes an innovative program that has emerged to meet this challenge - the Perpetual Education Fund. This program utilizes public-private partnerships, a large financial corpus, pre-existing administrative structures, personal relationships, local vocational schooling, and intergroup solidarity to administer loans and recover costs. Because voluntary sector participation in loan financing and administration is relatively new, the experiences and innovative survival strategies of this program have valuable implications for other emerging programs.

Should you wish to read more about the issues of equitable access and success in higher education around the world and/or find more references, please do not hesitate to consult the International Bibliographic Database on Higher Education (HEDBIB) or contact

See the full bibliography

Selected Links on Equitable Access and Success in Higher Education

See more links

Related Initiatives

  • 5-8 October 2015, Sunway University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, GAPS Kuala Lumpur 2015: Meeting the global challenge of building equitable knowledge economies - More information - The IAU, one of the partners supporting the Global Access to Post-Secondary Education (GAPS) initiative, is pleased to announce the Kuala Lumpur Meeting.

  • 1-3 July 2015, University of South Wales, Treforest campus, UK, FACE 2015 Annual Conference - Closing the Gap: Bridges for Access and Lifelong Learning - More information

  • 13-19 June 2015, United-Kingdom, Adult Learners' Week 2015 - Adult Learners’ Week is the UK’s largest and longest running learning campaign. Held each year, it encourages thousands of adults, whatever their age and background, to give learning a go - More information

  • 7-9 June 2015, Hotel Bristol Conference Centre, Oslo, Norway, 24th EAN Annual Conference - Advocating for access, equity, inclusion and diversity in higher education: Politics, Policies, Power and Persuasion - More information

  1. The different lists proposed below are neither exhaustive, nor representative. They serve as an interactive, dynamic listing of interesting projects, conferences, papers and/or organizations involved with access and success issues in several parts of the world. If you have recently attended an exciting conference on access, written or read an article/paper/dissertation or book on the topic and would like to share this, send us the information! 

Doctoral programmes

IDEA - PhD Portal and Activites

Innovative Approaches to Doctoral Education in Africa

After analysing the data reported throughout Phase I of the project, carried out with our partner pilot institutions - the University of Douala, Cameroon, University of Ilorin, Nigeria, Kenyatta University, Kenya, Université des Sciences et Technologies du Benin, Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis, Senegal, and the National University of Rwanda – IAU published a report of our findings on the IAU website. (Please click here for the full report).

Phase II of the project incorporates a new series of sub-Saharan African institutions who completed the survey questionnaire in order to form a more robust report of trends and reforms affecting doctoral programmes on the continent. The sample of universities taking part so far include a wide variety of institutions that represent the diversity of doctoral programme operation and implementation in sub-Saharan Africa and thus incorporates a wide range of perspectives and practices in the IAU project.

The IAU Questionnaire and Survey dually functions as an institutional self-assessment tool, developed and tested in the first phase of the project, enhanced during the second phase, and which proved to be extremely effective for information gathering and for promoting reflexion on policy issues and ways to improve the quality of doctoral programmes. Institutions are able to review and, where needed, adjust their data storage and collection mechanisms, which enhances their ability to develop evidence-based strategies and responses to the challenges facing doctoral programmes in Africa.

The information and data collected from the participating institutions have also played a large role in determining the content and structure for the IAU interactive portal on innovative approaches to doctoral education in Africa which has been developed in partnership with IAU Members and in particular with the partner Universities, with ACUP – the Catalan Association of Public Universities and FUOC – the Open University of Catalonia, thanks to financial support provided by Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the Spanish International Development Agency. The Portal was launched at the IAU 14th General Conference, on 30 November 2012. Contact: Dr van 't Land

Addis Ababa Seminar IAU - ACUP International Seminar on Innovative Approches to Doctal Education and Training, EiABC, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 2012

Hosted by the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC), Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 12-13 July 2012.

The International Association of Universities (IAU) and the Association of Catalan Public Universities (ACUP) were pleased to co-organize the international seminar on doctoral education and research training in Africa.

Bringing together participants from 19 higher education institutions, representing 14 countries, and 8 different higher education associations and organizations, the Seminar allowed for a discussion of the current state of doctoral education in Africa and was also the opportunity for participants to present various success stories. The participants also set out a series of recommendations and steps for future action to improve doctoral education.

  • The seminar programme and presentations can be accessed here.

  • The list of institutions and countries represented is available here.

  • For pictures from the seminar, please click here.

  • The Seminar Report and the Addis Conclusions and Declaration are available here.

IAU and ACUP are also delighted to announce the creation of an Interactive Web based Portal on Doctoral Education in and for Africa. Developed by IAU and ACUP, in cooperation with the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), this portal on doctoral education and training is to encourage the exchange of information and ideas related to doctoral programs and their overall management. The portal will be launched in October.


Phase I of Changing Nature of Doctoral Programmes in sub-Saharan Africa

In 2009, the IAU secured funding support from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) to work on The Changing Nature of Doctoral Programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the context of globalization and internationalization, and noting the constantly evolving higher education landscape, the purpose of this two year pilot study was and is to identify what changes are taking place in doctoral programmes in sub-Saharan Africa; to analyse the impact of these changes on training for research in six Anglophone and Francophone higher education institutions (HEIs) in sub-Saharan Africa; to understand if and how institutions have developed their institutional practices and how this impacts on and improves the management and functioning of their doctoral programmes; and to identify the challenges or difficulties encountered and solutions being tested in different institutions.

The six pilot institutions selected to take part in the pilot study were:

  • University of Douala, Cameroon;
  • University Ilorin, Nigeria;
  • Kenyatta University, Kenya;
  • Université des Sciences et Technologies du Benin, Benin;
  • Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis, Sénégal;
  • National University of Rwanda, Rwanda.

An additional purpose of the study was to stimulate focused debate on models of Doctoral training that have proven to be most appropriate to developing nations or those that need yet to be tried, and to offer a new and dynamic networking opportunity to a small set of HEIs to facilitate joint elaboration of comparative approaches and answers to the challenges they individually face. The study considered programmes in several branches of science, namely: the life sciences, the applied sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. The project WebPages provide details about the project, related actions and outcomes.

For further information, please contact: Dr. H. van’t Land, Director Membership and Programme Development


Phase II of Changing Nature of Doctoral Programmes in sub-Saharan Africa

Implications and Usefulness of Survey Results

The responses gathered thanks to the IAU Survey questionnaire on Doctoral education developped for the project have served as a true foundation for the other initiatives developed as part of this project. During Phase II of the project, the updated version of the survey questionnaire has been distributed to a new set of institutions. The 2012 survey is to assist HEIs in Africa to identify aspects of doctoral program management, development and implementation that require specific attention. The analyses of the responses received and discussions of the results with the members of the institutional teams taking part in the project, is to help review the way doctoral education is managed and developped. It allows the review team to make recommendations for reviews and reforms in areas such as programme management and delivery, institutional organization. For information on initiatives developped under phase I and leading to this second phase, please read information provided below.

The IAU, in collaboration with the Catalan Association of Universities (ACUP) works on the development of an online interactive portal, informed by the needs and demands of sub-Saharan African institutions as determined through this project. This portal will be launched at the IAU 14th General Conference in Porto Rico, on 30 November 2012.

To take part in the project, please contact Dr. Hilligje van’t Land, Director of Membership and Programme Development at


This report is the result of the pilot project IAU developed on the Changing nature of doctoral programmes in sub-Saharan Africa. Convinced that strong knowledge systems and research based knowledge are central to national development, IAU created an international Task Force and invited six of its Member institutions from across the African continent to take part.

A research question was developed, an institutional self-assessment instrument developed, institutional teams created and institutional self-assessments undertaken and complemented by institutional site visits. The institutions described the current state of their doctoral programmes, how they are shaped, organised and transformed. The data collected show how important doctoral programmes are for each institution and for their countries; the growing enrolment rates at doctoral level are telling, as are the changes that are being envisaged or implemented.

During a study and research seminar held in November 2010 (in Nigeria) and a data gathering and strategic planning seminar held in March 2011 (in Cameroon), the issues raised in the draft report were discussed, notes and experiences exchanged with colleagues from other pilot HEIs, and recommendations were made for the future.

The major conclusions presented in the report focus mainly on three areas: 1. the link between doctoral education and the institutional research strategy; 2. doctoral supervision and career development; and 3. the internationalisation of doctoral education, strategic planning and the crucial role of data collection and management.

Contact: Dr H. van’t Land, IAU Director Membership and Programme Development

The Report is one of the outcomes of the IAU project which included a number of interlinked actions, as listed below:

• Creation of an IAU international Task Force – this Task Force was composed of IAU Board Members and international experts, and provided advice and guidance to IAU throughout the project.

• Development of an institutional self-assessment tool – The project started with the development of an in-depth self-assessment questionnaire by IAU, the Members of the Task Force and with input from other experts and institutional team leaders. The questionnaire covered the following: A. the context in which the institution is operating; the country’s research system and the institutional profiles; the nature of doctoral studies and characteristics of students and supervisors associated with the doctoral programmes. B. The key challenges institutions face in doctoral programme delivery, management and organisation; C. Identification and analysis of policy reform areas for the improvement of the delivery of doctoral studies at institutional and national levels. Data collection was managed by the institutional teams and completed during institutional site visits by IAU team.

• A pilot of six IAU member institutions was created –pilot institutions were selected according to the following criteria and had had to:

  • be a Member of IAU in good standing and come from countries and regions of sub-Saharan Arica;
  • be a Public institution - or private with public interests;
  • illustrate innovation towards research policy development;
  • offer doctoral programmes in several disciplines;
  • show experience in developing research agendas;

Creation of Institutional teams - At the institutional level, the Rectors, Vice-Chancellors or Presidents appointed an Institutional Team with which the IAU project team worked in close collaboration. To ensure comprehensive coverage and a genuine institutional approach, and full involvement of IAU Member institutions in the process, the teams were composed of individuals representing the following institutional levels / positions / areas:

  • Senior University Officer (Rector/President/Vice Chancellor/Deputy Vice-Chancellor / Academic Research Deans)
  • Dean of Graduate School / Studies
  • Faculty Member
  • Junior Academic
  • Doctoral Student or Post-Doctoral Fellow
  • A key contact person for IAU was designated.

Institutional site visits: these took place in June and July 2010 at Kenyatta University, Kenya; University of Ilorin, Nigeria; National University of Rwanda, Rwanda; Université des Sciences et Technologies du Benin, Benin; Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis, Senegal.

Reporting, three steps: draft report on initial findings; debate on the initial conclusions during IAU Study and Research Seminar (University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria); final report submitted to pilot institutions and Members of the Task Force; submitted for publication.

Three Seminars :two in Nigeria and one in Cameroon:

a. IAU Study and Research Seminar, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria, November 2011: the Seminar focused on : 1. The Place of Doctoral Programmes in Institutional Research Strategies 2. Doctoral Student’s Supervision and Career Development and Monitoring 3. Internationalization of Doctoral Education and Strategic Planning and the Role of Data Collection. Key conclusions of the seminar are presented on the Documentation pages.

b. Special Session for Nigerian HEI leaders - following up on the University of Ilorin Seminar, a special session was hosted by and held at the University of Ilorin for Nigerian HEI leaders and other Nigerian colleagues involved and interested in the changing nature of doctoral programmes in sub-Saharan Africa. The results of the Seminar and of the initial phase of the project were presented to them and this led to a good discussion on the status of doctoral education in Nigeria. Outcomes: 1. The Nigerian Higher Education Institutions who attended the Workshop are investigating whether they can undertake a self assessment of their own Doctoral programmes, using the IAU tool; 2. the Association of African Universities (AAU) expressed interest in pursuing this project with their members.

c. Douala Seminar on Data collection and management for improved governance of doctoral programmes - Follow-up on one of the conclusions of the project, namely that better data collection on all operations relating to doctoral programmes would allow institutions to develop evidence based strategies for improving their doctoral programmes. IAU partnered up with the Douala University, Cameroon and with the University of Ottawa, Canada to organize a seminar on data collection and management. It took place at the University of Douala in March 2011. The seminar gathered 50 participants from seven state universities in Cameroon. Outcomes: the participating universities are evaluating their respective doctoral programmes using the IAU self-assessment tool in order to make recommendations for improvement to the Cameroonian Rectors Conference to take place later in 2011.

IAU Working Group

Terms of reference

Role of The Members of the Working Gruop for the project Innovative Approaches to Doctoral Education in Africa

  • Assist in the overall elaboration of the project framework, determining the most appropriate (possible) countries to select, the key questions upon which to focus the comparative study, the rationale to use for identifying the specific English and French speaking African university programmes which to include and the kind of information that should be gathered;
  • Advise IAU on the best manner to conduct the study with participating universities (selection of African HEIs or open call for proposal; detailed questionnaire sent to all or interviews by consultant, etc.), and what would be, in addition to analytical and comparative reports, other, most useful outcomes of the project;
  • Provide suggestions with regard to disciplinary focus, specific aspects of Doctoral programmes to consider, experts to contact;
  • Identify and share previously undertaken studies and research this area to inform the IAU project;
  • Advise on any similar project currently underway in other parts of the world or in Africa so that IAU can liaise with project leaders;
  • Help identify experts to act as consultants in the project and/or partner organizations that might be interested in contributing to the overall IAU project;
  • Review and comment on reports elaborated by participating institutions and take part, as appropriate, in meetings/group discussions/Seminars organised by IAU.

Members of the Working Group


  • Ernest Aryeetey, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana

Members (in alphabetical order)

  • Abdul Ambali, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria

  • Judy Backhouse, Associate Professor in Information Systems, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

  • Gilles Breton, Graduate School of International and Public Affairs, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

  • Julie Brittain, Director of Programmes, Deputy Executive-Director, INASP, UK

  • John Ddumba-Ssentamu, Vice Chancellor, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

  • Etienne Ehile, Secretary-General, Association of African Universities (AAU), Ghana

  • Stephen Freedman, Provost, Fordham University, New York, USA

  • Phyllis Freeman, JD, Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA; Co-Editor, Journal of Public Health Policy

  • Nadja Gmelch, Project Manager, Association of Catalan Public Universities (ACUP), Barcelona, Spain

  • Inger Lundgren, Research Advisor, Division for Research Cooperation, Dep. for Global Cooperation, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Sweden

  • Goolam Mohamedbhai, Former Secretary-General AAU, Former President IAU, Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Mauritius

  • Olive Mugenda, Vice-Chancellor, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya

  • Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu, PhD Coordinator, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana

  • Patricia Pol, Policy Advisor for European and International Affairs, Agence d’évaluation de la Recherche et de l’Enseignement supérieur (AERES), Former VP International, Université Paris 12 - Val de Marne, France - Université Paris 12

  • Morshidi Sirat, Expert, University Sains Malaysia, Minden, Malaysia

  • Julie Stackhouse, Research Manager, Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), UK

IAU Project Coordinator:


IAU Study and Research Seminar, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria – Seminar Programme, List of Participants and Initial Conclusions

Initial Outcomes

References on Doctoral Programmes

IAU Seminar on Doctoral programmes related data collection and Management, University of Douala, Cameroon, March 2011 – Seminar Programme

For publications (books, papers) on doctoral education please consult HEDBIB the database on higher education systems, administration, planning, policy, and evaluation, maintained by the IAU since 1988. Suggested words to search HEDBIB: doctorat; doctoral programmes; doctoral education.

Intercultural dialogue


Intercultural Learning and Dialogue: Higher Education has a role to play

The idea of "intercultural dialogue" takes as its starting point the recognition of difference and multiplicity of the world in which we live. These differences of opinion, viewpoint, and values exist not only within each individual culture but also between cultures.

'Dialogue' seeks to approach these multiple viewpoints with a desire to understand and learn from those that do not see the world in the same way as we do. An effective 'dialogue', therefore, is an enriching and opening interaction which encourages the respectful sharing of ideas and an exploration of the different thought-processes through which the world is perceived and understood. This interaction emphasizes opportunities for broadened and deepened self-knowledge and worldview. As a process, intercultural dialogue encourages an identification of the boundaries that define individuals, and then asks them to relate across those boundaries and even to call them into question.

As an international representative of the universities of the world, one of the IAU's primary functions is to identify and research issues that are of concern and interest to university institutions. In this capacity, the IAU has been working on the issues of globalization and internationalisation for some time, and has also focused specific attention on the Role of Higher Education in fostering intercultural Dialogue. In this context, the Association organises events and participates in Conferences and Meetings on related topics.

Following up on an International Conference organised by the Council of Europe, the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy, the Wergeland Center and IAU in Oslo,in June 2011,the following book has been published:

Cover book 2012 Reimagining Democratic Societies: a new era of personal and social responsibility, by Sjur Bergan, Ira Harkavy and Hilligje van't Land (eds.) (2013): Strasbourg, Council of Europe Publishing - Council of Europe Higher Education Series No.18, ISBN: 978-92-871-7537-3

Reimagining democratic societies, although a demanding task, is one in which higher education must engage. As societies change, our understanding of democracy must also evolve. We need democratic institutions, but also democratic culture and democratic innovation. Citizen participation, as a cornerstone of committed citizenry deeply involved in creating and sustaining diverse democratic societies is essential for human progress democracy, must go beyond citizen mobilisation on just a few issues. The authors – academics, policy makers and practitioners from Europe and the United States – argue this point, making the case for why democratic reimagination and innovation cannot succeed without higher education and why higher education cannot fulfil its educational, academic and societal missions without working for the common good. Case studies provide examples of how higher education can contribute to reimagining and reinvigorating democracy.

It is hoped that this book will inspire others to develop new initiatives to promote Intercultural Learning and Dialogue and education for democratic citizenship around the globe. Follow up events are being discussed.

To order the book, please go to:

IAU Members in good standing can obtain a free copy of this publication by writing to Dr. ****H. van't Land, IAU Director Membership and Programme Development @


Following up on the IAU International Conference 2009 on the role of Higher Education in fostering Intercultural Dialogue, a book has been published:

Council of Europe and IAU Book New: Council of Europe and the International Association of Universities book on the Role of Higher Education in promoting intercultural dialogue

Edited by Sjur Bergan of the Council of Europe and Hilligje van't Land of the IAU (International Association of Universities), Speaking across borders - volume 16 of the Council of Europe Higher Education Series - explores the role of higher education in developing intercultural dialogue in our societies. It complements Intercultural dialogue on Campus (Higher Education series No. 11) and the issue of the IAU journal Higher Education Policy (HEP, vol. 18.4) on the same topic and includes contributions from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and North America. The book demonstrates that education will need to play a key role in developing the ability to conduct intercultural dialogue, which is an integral part of democratic culture. It sets out the political context for intercultural dialogue, explores how universities can become actors of intercultural dialogue and offers examples of good practice from various parts of the world.

To order, please go to:

Council of Europe Book


IAU 2009 International Conference: The Role of Higher Education in Fostering the Culture of Dialogue and Understanding

Notre Dame University - Louaize, Lebanon, 4 - 6 November 2009

Lebanon flier The International Association of Universities and Notre Dame University - Louaize (NDU) jointly organized this international event.

The theme was and is in line with the IAU's goal to promote cooperation and understanding at the international, regional and national levels and contribute to freedom and justice, human dignity and solidarity through teaching and learning, research and service. Given Lebanon's diversity and the country's need to find a harmonious way to life for all its citizens, Notre Dame University - Louaize (NDU) was particularly pleased to host this IAU international Conference.

The conference brought together higher educational leaders, scholars and students to discuss how higher education today, contributes or could contribute to creating a culture of dialogue at the institutional, local, regional and international levels.

IAU Budapest Expert Seminar: Intercultural Learning and Dialogue, November 12-13, 2004

Participants The Budapest Seminar: Organized by the International Association of Universities (IAU) and the Central European University, Budapest (Hungary) In collaboration with the Central European University (CEU), Budapest, Hungary, the International Association of Universities (IAU) organized an International Expert Seminar on Intercultural Learning and Dialogue, in November 2004. This Seminar was also sponsored by the Ford Foundation, the UNESCO Participation Programme, Foreign Affairs Canada, and the Agence de la francophonie (AUF).

The Seminar brought together a group of academics and campus practitioners to assist in the development of a concrete actions IAU could undertake on Intercultural Learning and Dialogue. The Seminar allowed taking stock of actions undertaken at higher education level in this field, around the world. Please click on the following link to read the Report (rtf, 216 kb). The WebPages entitled 'Case studies' will lead you to the texts presented in Budapest.

The central purpose of the work undertaken by the IAU Working Group on higher education and intercultural learning and dialogue is to foster interest and expertise in order to help staff and students prepare to function effectively and harmoniously in a multicultural society.

Case Studies on Intercultural Learning and Dialogue

"On the occasion of the IAU Experts' Seminar on Intercultural Learning and Dialogue in Higher Education (November 2004, see report), the Seminar participants presented Papers and Case Studies outlining institutional strategies, policies and practices or programs in place or to be developed by their respective institutions of higher education, and beyond. This Seminar was sponsored by the Ford Foundation, the UNESCO Participation Programme, Foreign Affairs Canada, and the Agence de la francophonie (AUF).

The papers and Case Studies posted online exemplify some of the challenges faced by institutions in this domain, such as integration of ethnic minorities and foreign students, gender disparities, inter-religious dialogue and highlights some concrete initiatives. Vol 18, no. 4 of Higher Education Policy, which focuses on Intercultural Learning and Dialogue will appear this month. It gathers some 11 texts and Case studies presented in Budapest. These texts are currently being translated, thanks to the financial support provided by AUF and will be made available online soon.

Should you wish to contribute a Case Study presenting the strategies developed within your institution on intercultural learning and dialogue, please contact us at"

Case Studies:

Working Group


Selected Bibliography on Higher Education and Intercultural Dialogue:

Should you wish to have other references included, please do send a copy of the book or article to IAU to the attention of Dr. H. van't Land (Contact: or


  • At Home in the world: bridging the gap between internationalization and multicultural education / Olson, Christa L.; Evans, Rhodri; Shoenberg, Robert F. / American Council on Education [ACE].-- Washington,DC, 2007 . 43 p. (Working Papers on Internationalizing Higher Education in the United States. no. 4)


  • Dialogue among Civilizations / UNESCO.-- 2006. 271 p.
    MEETING: Asia -Pacific Regional Conference on Dialogue among Cultures and Civilizations for Peace and Sustainable Development. Hanoi, Viet Nam, 2004.

  • A New paradigm for higher education and culture in East Asia / Lee, Jeong-Kyu.-- IN: Higher Education Review, vol. 38 no. 3, pp. 53-63, 2006 - ISSN: 0018-1610
    CONTENTS: This article explores how cultural identity reveals itself in East Asian higher education. The following questions are addressed. First, what is culture and what is the characteristic of East Asian culture? Second, what are the cultural situations of East Asian higher education? Third, how does the cultural identity of East Asia reveal itself in higher education? Finally, what are new paradigms in East Asian higher education? The article offers a theoretical basis to establish new paradigms of higher education in East Asia.

Main declarations

Some Initiatives

Thank you for providing us with information on projects and others initiatives in the field of higher education and Intercultural Dialogue (


  • The Center for Intercultural Studies and Multicultural Education
    Adelaide University, Australia
    Pioneer in teaching and research on multiculturalism and ethnic diversity in Australia; development of culturally inclusive curricula; resource for public actors and professionals.

  • The Center for Culture Renewal
    McGill University, Canada
    A cross-disciplinary center that focuses on the fundamental connections between public policy, culture, moral discourse, and religious conviction to the end of providing public actors with quality resources.

  • International Academy for Intercultural Research
    University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hawaii
    The Academy serves as a forum for exchanging ideas, theories, research and know-how for senior intercultural researchers, academics, and trainers. The Academy fosters high-level interdisciplinary research and scholarship on intercultural issues by organizing conferences, publishing a newsletter and maintaining a website with papers and other resources.

  • Center for International Migration and Ethnic Relations (IMER) - a multi-disciplinary research group
    University of Bergen, Norway
    The center addresses in depth issues of identity, plurality and multiculturalism in the urban environment; and of accommodating diversity in society in general. The center also researches gender issues in cultural diversity; as well as citizenship, mobility and migration. A newsletter and a magazine in English or Norwegian are published regularly and available online.

  • The European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations (ERCOMER)
    Utrecht University, The Netherlands. [h][30017]
    The Center seeks to encourage comparative multi-disciplinary research on the topics of migration, multiculturalism, ethnic exclusionism and ethnic conflict, racism and nationalism. Apart from research, the center also provides expert analysis and information on key issues, as well as instruction and training; it organizes seminars, publishes extensively and serves as a host institute for researchers.

  • Centre d'études amérindiennes
    Université du Québec à Chicoutimi - Canada

  • Centre d'anthropologie culturelle
    Université Libre de Bruxelles - Belgium

  • Centre d’Etudes Nord-Américaines de l’ULB (CENA)
    Université Libre de Bruxelles - Belgium

  • Centre interculturel euro-libanais
    Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth - Lebanon

  • Centre de recherche et d'études arabes
    Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth - Lebanon

  • Centre de recherche sur les identités nationales et l'interculturalité
    Université de Nantes - France

  • Centre de recherche sur les conflits d'interprétation
    Université de Nantes - France

Policies and principles

Programs and projects

  • Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies
    Aalborg University, Denmark.
    The Department undertakes teaching and research within the areas of intercultural communication and inter-country interaction and influence on each other with special focus on language and culture and emphasis on their intercultural, comparative, and historical aspects.

  • INTERACT : Intercultural Active Citizenship Education
    The Danish University of Education, Denmark.
    This project analyses the impact and implications for education of the political changes resulting from EU integration, enlargement and globalization. It focuses on the intercultural element of citizenship education and aims to provide guidelines for teacher education.

  • EAIE courses
    Professional development programmes - Training Courses 2008

  • Chaire d'anthropologie interculturelle
    Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth - Lebanon

  • Chaire Jean Monnet et Centre d'études sur l'union européenne (Centre d'excellence)
    Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth - Lebanon

  • Chaire de Francophonie
    Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth - Lebanon

  • Groupe de recherche sur la construction interculturelle des mondes sociaux
    Université Libre de Bruxelles - Belgium

Pedagogical resources

Case studies

Degrees and diplomas

  • Master's Program of Intercultural Encounters - Department of Comparative Religion at the University of Helsinki, Finland.
    A multi-disciplinary program giving a strong theoretical basis for understanding situations where cultures interact, while at the same time developing the practical skills for intercultural interaction and personal cultural sensitivity. The program also works to promote research and education in intercultural interaction.

  • Executive Master in Intercultural Communication - University of Lugano, Switzerland
    This multidisciplinary program is designed to furnish the practical tools necessary for analyzing multicultural situations, resolving conflicts arising in such situations, and communicating efficiently in different professional contexts. The overall aim of the program is to improve the intercultural communication in everyday life as well as in the public and private spheres.

  • Bachelor and Master's Program in "Business, Language and Culture" - The Department of Intercultural Communication& Management, the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.
    The programs combine the study of business with language, communication, cultural education. The curricula seek to provide the intercultural knowledge through a cross-disciplinary, international and comparative approach. In addition, the Department offers courses in "Languages, Communication and Cultural Studies" and a bachelor's degree in "International Business Administration and Modern Languages".

  • Course on "Intercultural Dialogue and Intercultural Education" - Bourgas Free University, Bourgas, Bulgaria.
    The course was introduced in the context of the initiative of UNESCO chair on Human Rights and Culture of Peace, in Bourgas, Bulgaria in the effort to promote human rights, democracy and intercultural dialogue. Contact person: Prof. Rumen Valchev

  • Certificat en immigration et relations interethniques
    Université du Québec à Montréal - Canada

  • Certificat en éducation interculturelle
    Université du Québec à Montréal - Canada

  • Master en médiation interculturelle
    Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth - Lebanon

Initiatives for students

  • L'Association des Etudiants internationaux Autour du Monde of the Université de Nantes aims to facilitate the integration of the foreign students within and around Nantes by encouraging contact with French students and organizing intercultural activities. It proposes activities such as conversation clubs, city visits, dinners at university restaurants, foreign film festivals, etc.

  • AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales) is an international organization present in more than 800 universities throughout the world and made up of students devoted to the promotion of international understanding and co-operation. Through the programs international training courses, the students can acquire valuable work experience at foreign companies, allowing them to increase their level of cultural awareness, social responsibility and entrepreneurship.

  • Student mobility programs: CREPUQ

  • AFS Programs
    AFS, previously known as "American Field Service", is a not-for-profit international organization offers to support intercultural relations training. This network based in 50 countries, offers student exchange programs between one another.

Parallel events



Links on Education and Intercultural Dialogue

For a list of Specialized Institutions please click here



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The new IAU program of advisory services for advancing internationalization.

ISAS (2.0) consists of several different but complementary services offered to IAU Members, other Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), individuals at HEIs, national governments and organizations.

ISAS (2.0), offered by IAU as of 2016, builds on the foundation of the initial Internationalization Strategies Advisory Service (ISAS), created in 2010 to help HEIs develop or review their internationalization policies, strategies and programs.

The new program goes beyond the original ISAS initiative in two important ways. First, it offers a greater variety of specific and tailored services to a more diversified audience. It seeks to assist single HEIs, groups of HEIs within a country, individual professionals, and policymakers in their distinct efforts to enhance internationalization of Higher Education (HE). Secondly, it offers a learning badge for each service as a way of acknowledging the learning journey that has been undertaken.

The main services within ISAS (2.0) include:

  1. Advancing strategic internationalization at HEIs (for HEIs)
  2. Facilitating individual learning for internationalization (for HEIs and individuals working at HEIs)
  3. National advisory service for strategy or policy development for HE internationalization (for national governments, agencies and organizations)

Please find here the ISAS (2.0) promotional leaflet.

To know more about the original ISAS program please consult the following pages: ISAS program 2010 - 2016

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Internationalization of Higher Education Virtual Resource Center

The following IAU webpages contain a variety of resources – articles, studies, good practice examples and models, policies etc., covering and discussing higher education internationalization processes in all their different aspects. As these processes are continuously changing and evolving, these webpages will hopefully keep up with the evolution, most especially with readership input. Therefore please do not hesitate to send relevant resources or comments for improving the website to the Manager, HE and Internationalization policy and projects, Giorgio Marinoni, mentioning internationalization in the subject line.

In addition to the documentation presented in the following pages, other references can be found in the HEDBIB database, an international database of references on higher education policy, systems, management, planning, and evaluation.

IAU Global Surveys

IAU 5th Global Survey

5th edition of the Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education

18 international experts on internationalization have accepted to assist IAU in the preparations for the 5th edition of the Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education. They form the Advisory Committee which reviewed and redesigned the questionnaire to be used to collect data from HEIs, and its definitions of terms. The questionnaire is now being tested by a pilot group of institutions until 30 September 2017. The Global Survey has become a renowned source of global and regional insights on institutional trends and perceptions about internationalization. IAU plans to collect data in 2018 and publish the 5th edition in early 2019.

IAU 4th Global Survey (2014)

In April 2014 the IAU published the report of the IAU 4th Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education

  • An electronic copy of the report's Executive Summary, can be downloaded here

  • To order the 4th Global Survey report, please complete and return the order form available here

Each of these reports, as described below, provides a unique analysis of global and regional level data on trends and developments in the field of international higher education and related policy making. The IAU Global Survey reports have become an invaluable resource for anyone working on or interested in internationalization of higher education.

For more information contact the Manager, HE and Internationalization policy and projects: Giorgio Marinoni

4th Global Survey report

Internationalization of Higher Education – Growing expectations, fundamental values

Published on April 1 2014, the IAU 4th Global Survey reports analyses responses from 1,336 higher education institutions in 131 different countries. The report presents the largest and most geographically comprehensive collection of primary data on internationalization of higher education available today.

In preparing the IAU 4th Global Survey, the Association benefited from the support of the European Commission, British Council, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, and the European Association for International Education (EAIE). As well, and Advisory Committee of experts aided in the formulation of the questionnaire used in the survey.

Some highlights of the report include:

• Institutions world-wide are focusing on internationalization. Over half of the respondents report that their institution has an internationalization policy/strategy, and 22% report that one is in preparation. Just over 15% indicate that internationalization forms part of the overall institutional strategy.

• Student mobility and international research collaboration are the highest-priority internationalization activities within institutions

• Student knowledge of international issues is the most significant expected benefit of internationalization. This is the same finding as in the IAU 3rd Global Survey (2009) and the 2nd Global Survey (2005).

• International opportunities being available only to students with financial resources, was ranked by respondents as the most significant potential risk of internationalization for institutions while the most significant societal risk is noted as commodification/commercialization of education

• In the majority of regions, respondents indicated that their geographic focus for internationalization was on their own region. Europe is also a strong focus for most regions.

• Limited funding is the major internal and external obstacle to advancing internationalization. This finding was also true in the two previous IAU Global Surveys.

• Respondent institutions report that they seek to promote values of equity and sharing of benefits through their internationalization strategy and activities.

The book includes approximately 100 figures and tables presenting, comparing and analysing aggregate and regional results. It is an invaluable resource for anyone working on or interested in internationalization of higher education.

The IAU 4th Global Survey has already been noted in the press:

IAU 3rd Global Survey (2010)

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Internationalization of Higher Education: Global Trends, Regional Perspectives

Published in 2010 the report includes more than one hundred Figures and Tables presenting, comparing and analyzing global (aggregate) results as well as those specific to the six world regions. The report is based on responses from 745 higher education institutions and close to 20 national university associations in 115 different countries.

Analysis of the regional findings is supplemented by commentaries from senior higher education experts in internationalization from each of the regions. Where appropriate, comparisons are drawn with the results of the IAU 2005 Global Survey on Internationalization, showing both continuity and change.

A detailed analysis of how enrolment size affects the form and function of internationalization within HEIs and a review of the Association’s perspectives and role in internationalization is also included.

To order the report, please complete and return the order form.

IAU 2nd Global Survey (2005)

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Internationalization of Higher Education - New Directions, New Challenges

Second in the series, the 2005 IAU global survey expanded its geographical coverage and broadened the survey to include in addition to higher education institutions, university associations from around the world. At the start of 2005, questionnaires were sent to more than 3,000 higher education institutions, more than 100 national university associations and 17 regional university associations around the world.

Click here to order

Highlights of findings

IAU 1st Global Survey (2003)

1st global survey

Internationalization of Higher Education: Practices and Priorities

In early 2003, the International Association of Universities surveyed its institutional members on the practices and priorities of internationalization at their institutions.

Click here for the full report

Working Group

This Working Group is chaired by a member of the Administrative Board. Building on the IAU policy statements which include: Sharing Quality Higher Education Across Borders: A Statement on Behalf of Higher Education Institutions Worldwide and past IAU achievements in this area, the Working Group will provide advice to the Administrative Board and the Secretary General on the strategic direction to be pursued in this policy area. The Working Group will also benefit from the work of the Advisory Committee on the IAU Global Survey on Internationalization. More specifically, the Working Group will provide recommendations on how to improve the visibility and response rate for the above cited survey and how to enhance the presentation and dissemination of the results in the interest of IAU Members. The Working Group will also provide recommendations on how to operationalize the Call for Action: Affirming Academic Values in Internationalization of Higher Education. Finally it will assist in the promotion of the Internationalization Strategies Advisory Service (ISAS (2.0)) offered by the IAU, offer comments on how to improve it and more generally advise IAU on what other useful services it could propose to the academic community. The Chair and Members of the Working Group are:


  • Andrew DEAKS, President, University College Dublin, Ireland


  • Salim DACCACHE s.j., Rector, University of St Joseph Beirut, Lebanon
  • Etsuko KATSU, Vice-President, International, Meiji University, Japan
  • Ebenezer ODURO OWUSU, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana, Ghana
  • Oleg SMESHKO, Rector, Saint-Petersburg University of Management Technologies and Economics, Russian Federation

IAU Secretariat

  • Eva Egron-Polak, Secretary General
  • Giorgio Marinoni, Manager, HE and Internationalization policy and projects

Re-thinking internationalization

Re-thinking internationalization

IAU International Ad-hoc Expert Group on Re-thinking Internationalization (The Ad-hoc Group)

Bringing together a growing number of scholars and practitioners who are questioning the current developments in internationalization, the Ad-hoc Group builds on the lively discussion that took place during the 4th IAU Global Meeting of Associations in Delhi, India, in April, 2011 and poses a number of conceptual questions:

  • Is the concept and the definition of internationalization keeping up with developments in higher education?

  • Is there a shared understanding of the concept?

  • Has internationalization lost sight of its central purposes?

IAU is posing these and other questions in a reflection directly in line with the findings of the 3rd Global Survey on Internationalization.

The Survey clearly points out the differences in why internationalization is pursued in different parts of the world and how it impacts on various institutions in vastly diverse contexts. Furthermore, this initiative is a natural sequel to past normative efforts of the Association, such as the Policy Statement and Declaration and Checklist for Good Practice.

The Ad-hoc Group brings together perspectives from all parts of the world inter alia to: assess the extent to which internationalization activities fit the current conceptual umbrella, to critically examine the causes that are leading to some questioning and even criticism of the concept and to investigate the ways to address these concerns. The Group has met for the first time 'virtually' in July 2011. The Agenda lists the main questions and issues that were covered.

The Notes, prepared by IAU following this first meeting, summarize what was actually a wide ranging beginning to a rich discussion. IAU and all the members of the Group are committed to continue this discussion and move forward in concrete ways in an effort to reposition/reinvent internationalization as a valuable and transformative process of change in higher education in the current context.

For example in April 2012 the IAU published - Affirming Academic Values in Internationalization of Higher Education: A Call for Action

This new IAU Call for Action, which is available here is the main output of the Ad-hoc Group, to date.

The Call is also available in French and in Spanish.

In addition, several group members also contributed to a special double issue of IAU Horizons, whose In–Focus theme was on the topic of Re-thinking Internationalization. Published in early 2012, the magazine (Vol.17 No.3 and Vol.18 No.1 ) can be viewed here

Since the publication of the Call all Group members have agreed to keep moving the re-thinking internationalization agenda forward, and sharing inputs that various audiences may make to the discussion.

Finally, IAU built a virtual resources center for sharing related papers and documents on its webpages devoted to internationalization. Should you have a paper or a presentation that you wish to make known to the Group, or simply to comment on this initiative, please contact Eva Egron-Polak or Giorgio Marinoni.

Policy Statements

From its unique stand point as a global association of institutions and organizations of higher education, IAU has developed advocacy positions on key issues including on internationalization of higher education.

IAU Internationalization Policy Statements

Affirming Academic Values in Internationalization of Higher Education: A Call for Action, 2012

Published in April 2012, the Call for Action is the key output of the IAU Ad-hoc Expert Group on Re-thinking Internationalization. The Call is also available in French and in Spanish.

Sharing Quality Higher Education Across Borders: A Checklist for Good Practice, 2006.

As follow-up to the 2004 statement, the same four Associations (the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), the American Council on Education (ACE), the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and the International Association of Universities (IAU) elaborated a practical Checklist for Good Practice to be used by institutions. The Checklist is designed as a tool to help institutions ensure that the principles promoted by the Statement were being respected.

Sharing Quality Higher Education Across Borders: A Statement on Behalf of Higher Education Institutions Worldwide, 2004.

The statement identified a set of principles that should guide the provision of cross-border education and set forth a series of recommendations. This document, was prepared by the IAU, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and was circulated to higher education membership associations worldwide for comment in 2004.

Towards a Century of Cooperation: Internationalization of Higher Education, 2000.

Prepared for the UNESCO World Conference in Higher Education 1998, formally adopted by the 11th IAU General Conference as part of the IAU Policy 2000.

Roster of Experts

Should you wish to join IAU’s Roster of Experts, for the ISAS programme, and the Association's other internationalization of higher education projects, please complete and submit the registration form

Ethics in Higher Education


Currently, there exists no international code or guidelines on ethical conduct for higher education institutions that articulates how, as institutions, they promote academic and scientific integrity and prevent academic dishonesty and unethical behaviour by actors and stakeholders that form the academic community.

During the IAU International Conference entitled “Ethics and Values in Higher Education in the Era of Globalization: What Role for the Disciplines?”, held at Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania, in November 2010, it was agreed that, together with the Magna Charta Observatory (MCO), IAU would examine the feasibility of developing an international code or set of guidelines concerned with ethical conduct of and in higher education.

The Joint IAU-MCO Working Group on Ethics in Higher Education was set up, consisting of representatives from IAU Member Institutions as well as the MCO. The first meeting was held during the Fourth Global Meeting of Associations (GMA IV) held in New Delhi, India on 13 April 2011 where it was decided to work on a set of guidelines for institutions wishing to put in place their own code of ethics.

During the second meeting, held on 3 October 2011 at the Council of Europe offices in Paris, France, the first draft was debated and elaborated, before being sent for wider consultation.

The final meeting of the drafting phase was hosted by Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey, 17-18 May 2012 where the final draft of the Guidelines was put forward, and which can now be viewed here.


The IAU-MCO Guidelines for an Institutional Code of Ethics in Higher Education were approved by the IAU Administrative Board and the Magna Charta Council and, after wide dissemination to IAU Members, also approved at the IAU 14th General Conference, held at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, USA in November 2012. The final version is now available.

For more information, or to send comments, contact Nicholas Poulton

IAU welcomes all examples of institutional codes of ethics that may already exist. Copies, in English or French, can also be sent to Nicholas Poulton.

Working Group

This Working Group is chaired by a member of the Administrative Board and can, in addition to Administrative Board members, include experts from any IAU Member institution or organization. Building on the Guidelines for an Institutional Code of Ethics in Higher Education developed jointly by IAU and the Magna Charta Observatory (MCO), the Working Group advises the Administrative Board and the Secretary General on the overall strategic directions to be pursued to increase the visibility and use of the Guidelines by institutions of higher education. It is also invited to propose new and alternative actions that IAU could undertake to support its Members in this policy area or to continue the discussion of ethics-related issues. More specifically, the Working Group provides recommendations on how IAU could assist its Member institutions make the best use of the Guidelines to develop, improve or strengthen their policies. The Working Group is also expected to make recommendations on other, related activities that might be undertaken to promote ethical conduct and to improve understanding the ethical challenges or potential dilemmas that HEIs may face. The MCO will be invited to continue the collaboration in this area.

  • Stephen FREEDMAN, Chair, Provost, Fordham University, USA

  • Santiago ACOSTA, Vice-Rector, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, Ecuador

  • Agneta BLADH, Former Rector, University of Kalmar, Sweden; Council Member, MCO
  • Jean-Pierre FINANCE, Former President, Henri Poincaré University, Nancy-1, France; Council Member, MCO
  • Walid MOUSSA, President, Notre Dame University – Louaize, Lebanon
  • Inga ZALENIENE, Vice-Rector for Research, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania

IAU Secretariat

  • Eva EGRON-POLAK, Secretary General
  • Nicholas POULTON, Administrative/Editorial Assistant

  • Contact: Nicholas Poulton (n.poulton(at)

OER and the Academic Librarian


IAU Training and Support Programme for Academic Librarians on Open Educational Resources (OER) use, reuse, and production

Logo Open Educational Resources are growing in prevalence and importance, yet they not equally distributed worldwide and not as used and re-used as expected. With this in mind, the IAU investigated the reasons for these dichotomies and concluded that associating and working in collaboration with academic librarians, who play a central role in providing access to information resources and technology within their institutions, could be a solution to increasing OER creation, use and reuse in higher education globally.

The IAU Project

The IAU Project was developed by the IAU in 2013. It aims to train and support academic librarians – in priority in developing countries – to be able to identify and provide information on existing OER and inform faculty members and graduate students in the use, re-use and production of OER.

Read the full Concept Note

To validate the project for the Sub-Saharan African region, the IAU held a Workshop with librarians. This took place in Accra, Ghana in September 2013.

Read the Outcomes

Open Educational Resources (OER)

OER refer to digitized as well as non-digitized teaching and learning materials either openly released or released in the public domain that can be used and reused by all, everywhere. The term was first introduced at a conference hosted by UNESCO in 2002. The UNESCO Paris OER Declaration was adopted in 2012.

Librarians and OER

An international survey of librarians found a clear need to promote the role that libraries and librarians can play in OER initiatives, highlighting the expertise and competencies which libraries and librarians can offer (The roles of libraries and information professionals in Open Education Resources (OER) initiatives: Survey Report G. Bieno-de-la-Fuente, R. J. Robertson and S. Boon, JISC CETIS, 2012).


The Association has a Policy Statement on Universities and Information and Communication Technologies, adopted in 2004, which includes the promotion of Open Educational Resources as a strategy in stimulating exchange of expertise in ICTs.

For further information

Amanda Sudic, IAU Librarian / Documentalist
Isabelle Turmaine, IAU Director, Information Projects and Services



The IAU hosted an online mini-seminar on 11 March 2015 as part of Open Education Week. The event was organised with those who participated in the Validation Workshop for the IAU Training and Support Programme for Academic Librarians on Open Educational Resources (OER), in Accra, Ghana in 2013. It provided an opportunity to discuss recent developments in OER in libraries and universities in Africa and to agree follow-up actions.

Validation Workshop of the IAU Project on OER and the Academic Librarian with specific focus on the African Region

The first stage of the IAU project, the Validation Workshop, took place in Accra, Ghana on 12 and 13 September 2013. It received funding from UNESCO's Participation Programme and was organised in partnership with the Association of African Universities (AAU), an IAU Member organization.


The objectives of the Validation Workshop were:

  • To update participants’ knowledge of OER;
  • To raise awareness of the role(s) of the Academic Librarian in OER within and beyond their institution;
  • To improve and validate the IAU Project;
  • To promote cooperation and to launch the first IAU community of librarians for OER.


Twenty-six participants from ten African countries took part in the Workshop. These included university librarians from IAU Member higher education institutions in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Read the Validation Workshop Report


For further information

Amanda Sudic, IAU Librarian / Documentalist

Isabelle Turmaine, IAU Director, Information Projects and Services

Leadership development

Leading Globally Engaged Universities (LGEU)

Leadership development

LGEU5 logo

The quality of higher education leadership, while becoming ever-more challenging, is central to the well-being of universities. The expectations and responsibilities of higher education institutions are expanding while the local and global context is continuously changing with leadership becoming more complex. To support new and future leaders of Higher Education Institutions, the International Association of Universities (IAU) has developed a leadership programme entitled: Leading Globally Engaged Universities (LGEU). Discover the brochure and sign up here !

Who should take part?

The programme is for successful institutional leaders who wish to extend their experience by engaging with peers from other countries. It is of particular value to those in senior leadership roles:

  • Recently appointed Rectors/Vice Chancellors/Presidents
  • Deputy/Pro Vice Chancellor/ Vice Provost /Vice President/Vice Rector or equivalent.
  • Senior professional service leaders at Registrar/Chief Operating Officer level or equivalent.

To gain maximum benefit from the programme, participants will be expected to be comfortable and confident conversing and engaging with others in English.

What are the benefits of participating?

Participants will gain:

  • ideas and insights from leaders from other universities in all regions of the world that will inform the strategic developments in their institution;

  • data and information as well as greater appreciation of how these can shape the direction of their university and higher education in different national contexts;

  • knowledge about theory and practice of institutional leadership, management and governance;

  • the opportunity to become part of a global network of peers;

  • international perspectives on national/local challenges and opportunities.

    Over time, the wider community of participants from successive programme sessions will create a unique international network of colleagues, a resource which will be of considerable long-term value to the participants and their institutions.
    Beyond the individual, the programme also benefits each institution since LGEU graduates will bring back ideas and approaches from other contexts that can be adapted and implemented at home.
    Institutions will gain from the rich bank of resources made available and from the network established among peers in different parts of the world. LGEU will act as a catalyst for the establishment of partnerships and longer-term collaborations between participants and their respective institutions.

Registrations for next sessions

The fifth session (LGEU-5) will be hosted by Sohar University, Oman, from 18 to 23 November 2017. Sign up now!

Sohar U campus


-IAU Member: 5,800 € (Euro)
-Non Member: 8,700 € (Euro)

The registration fee includes programme delivery and material, accommodation and meals but excludes travel to the workshop venue.

Applicants from developing countries may also apply for financial support from IAU which will be considered on a case-by-case basis and subject to available subventions.

Sohar fort view Registration

Each session is limited to 15-20 participants. If you wish to apply to attend the programme, please complete and return this brief online application form.

The deadline for applications for LGEU-5 is 1 October 2017.

More information:
Read the brochure here !

Participants in previous sessions testify…

Past sessions:

  • LGEU-1: hosted by University Malaya (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) in November 2015;

  • LGEU-2: hosted by University College Dublin (Ireland) in April 2016;

  • LGEU-3: hosted by Universidad EAFIT, Medellin (Colombia) in December 2016;

  • LGEU-4: hosted by the University of Botswana (Botswana), in May 2017

LGEU Alumni share their experience: discover their testimonials in video!

UB Campus
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UB Swim
LGEU-3 Medellin
Couv Brochure LGEU4

LEADHER - outcomes

LEADHER - outcomes

To support Members in developing countries and promote inter-Membership collaboration IAU offered the Leadership Development for Higher Education Reform (LEADHER) Programme from 2007 to 2015. The programme has been discontinued due to lack of funding. See all selected projects from past competitions here:

HE and EFA Project (completed)

The HEEFA Projects

Higher Education (HE) for Education For All (EFA) - HEEFA

Since the launch of the Education for All (EFA) goals, adopted within the Dakar Framework of Action at the World Education Forum in 2000, considerable political and social commitment have been harnessed to support this global education initiative. Countries have galvanised significant human and capital resources both nationally and internationally in achieving these goals.

Soon afterwards, in 2005, IAU began to advocate for greater inclusion of higher education in EFA, both at the national and international levels. The IAU has strong reasons to believe that higher education, as a sector, indeed has much to contribute to achieving EFA:

  • Higher education is responsible for teacher education programs, or is at least responsible for the training of teacher trainers.
  • Higher education plays a role in fostering students’ social development and civic responsibilities, i.e. the next generation of workers, thinkers and leaders;
  • Academic research produces a wealth of expertise, knowledge and innovation that is evidence-based, long-term, and locally relevant;
  • Community engagement is increasingly becoming a core mandate of higher education institutions globally.

IAU HEEFA Project Thus far, IAU has been successful in advancing the idea that higher education and research should be considered as a major actor for reaching EFA. In March 2011, IAU was instrumental to have higher education and research officially recognized for the first time by the EFA High-Level Group responsible for setting the global agenda. More recently, education ministers, cooperation agencies, research institutes and the private sector agreed that higher education and research indeed contributed to EFA (GEM Statement, Paris, 2012). Nonetheless, it’s too premature to stop raising awareness and advocating for higher education participation. The reasons being that:

  • The full potential of the different missions of higher education institutions and the variety of expertise they house and produce are still not systematically exploited in the pursuit of EFA;
  • If linked, higher education involvement remains primarily dominated by and narrowly limited to teacher education;
  • The higher education community as a whole is still insufficiently aware of EFA and inversely, some EFA stakeholders continue to view higher education as a marginal partner, at best.

Learn more about the different multi-year HEEFA projects:

For further information:
Nadja KYMLICKA, Consultant in Education;
Isabelle TURMAINE, IAU Director, Information Centre and Communication Services and Project Director

HEEFA Portal

Portal on Higher Education/Research and Education For All (Maintenance stopped in January 2016)

The HEEFA Portal is a collaborative platform to disseminate information of the work being undertaken by higher education in EFA-related fields and to build up a like-minded community. Its aim is to provide access and visibility to data on higher education projects, documents and experts active in EFA.


  • The higher education community: academia, students, HE administrators as visitors or contributors
  • All other interested stakeholders: intergovernmental organisations, NGOs, Ministries of Education, school administrators and teachers as visitors

The Portal is designed for two types of users:

  • Visitors can search for projects, experts or documents, read the latest news and latest additions to the databases featured on the homepage.
  • Contributors can share information and promote their work by entering related projects and documents, posting their CV, and participating in the forum. Each contributor has a personal online workspace where their data is stored and can be edited at any time.


3 databases:

  • Projects on higher education activities in EFA;
  • Experts working in one or more areas related to EFA;
  • Documents: related theses, articles and reports

HEEFA Newsletter: With +1,000 subscribers and growing, this quarterly newsletter featured news on the IAU HEEFA project and the EFA Movement, events, and publications related to higher education engaged in EFA (in English).

The first page of the Portal offers information on the latest additions in databases and higher education for EFA news as well as a set of pre-defined functionalities as follows:

  • A search for results by EFA goals (top of the screen);
  • A quick search on all content (left-hand side);
  • Several Menu Options (left-hand side): Search the database (for all users); Share your experience (for contributors only); Participate in the community (for contributors only); Subscribe to the Newsletters (for all users)

  • The possibility to change languages from English to French and vice-versa.


The HEEFA Portal is a collaborative portal, it will only be useful if academics and students enter information on their projects, expertise, and theses, share their news with the IAU team to feed the HEEFA Newsletter, and participate in the Forum.

Consequently, your input is not only greatly welcome but necessary.

Register and give additional visibility to your projects, expertise and theses and become part of the HEEFA Community. All processes have been developed to be as simple and straightforward as possible, but please feel free to contact us if you encounter any problem.

Participation is free of charge and your input will not be re-used by our services in any other material without your prior consent.

Reference Group

HEEFA Reference Group:

To accompany the 2011-2015 IAU Project on Higher Education for EFA, the 2008-2010 Reference Group expanded to include a greater number of viewpoints from non-OECD countries, with a particular emphasis given to Africa. Experts were selected based on written statements of interest and expertise while respecting the gender and geographical balance. Most founding members of the 2008-2010 Group renewed their commitment to continue working with IAU.


  • advise on and contribute to the development of the activities defined within the IAU Project;

  • assist in communicating products and results;

  • share expertise, technical materials and work in a collaborative manner;

  • promote the importance of higher education for EFA internally within the higher education institution/ organization as well as externally with partners and networks.

Read the complete Terms of Reference.


  • The Reference Group is composed of academics and higher education representatives.
  • Its Members represents all regions: 9 from Africa, 6 from the Americas, 4 from Asia and 7 from Europe.
  • It is chaired by an IAU Board Member. Prof. Olive Mugenda, Vice-Chancellor of Kenyatta University and IAU Vice-President, is the current Chairperson.

See full list of Members.

The 2008-2010 IAU Project was supported by the 2008-2010 Reference Group which served as an advisory group to develop, implement and communicate activities. Members were participants at the IAU Experts’ Seminar held in Maputo, Mozambique (January 2007) and invited experts engaged in or advocating for higher education for EFA, coming from higher education institutions, cooperation agencies and associations, and the IAU.


International Meeting "HEEFA to SDG4: Building on Achievements"

The Final Report of the International Meeting "HEEFA to SDG4: Building on Achievements" organised by the IAU, in partnership with the Jaume Bofill Foundation, has been released. The meeting took place in Barcelona, Spain from 7 to 9 October 2015 and brought together representatives from higher education institutions and organisations in 26 countries as well as UNESCO. Building on the success of the IAU HEEFA (Higher Education for Higher Education for All) project, the international meeting provided an opportunity for the higher education community to discuss the place and role of higher education in the Education 2030 Framework For Action that supports the Sustainable Development Goal No. 4 on Education.

IAU HEEFA-ICT4IAL Follow-up Seminar:
As the third phase of the IAU HEEFA Project draws to close, the IAU organized a 2-day invitation-only Follow-up Seminar. Organized in collaboration with the Hacettepe University, an IAU member, it was held on 18-19 November 2014 in Ankara, Turkey. It was also co-organized with a second project in which IAU plays a partner role: the ICT for information accessibility in learning (ICT4IAL) Project led by the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education. 32 Participants from 22 countries reviewed the outcomes of the IAU HEEFA Workshops and the HEEFA Portal, discussed the IAU position on higher education after 2015 and provided feedback on the draft e-accessibility guidelines.

Download the final report of the Seminar.

IAU Innovation Conference

Innovation Conference

IAU organised an Innovation Conference on Higher Education/Research and EFA/education-related MDGs and end-of-project Meeting (Paris, December 2010). 50 experts and representatives from international organisations, NGOs and development agencies, including the IAU Reference Group on HEEFA, evaluated progress made for improved inclusion of higher education in EFA, reviewed the IAU project’s outcomes and explored ways forward. A special session was organised on possible links between higher education and other education sectors in the wake of a natural disaster starting from an examination of Haiti with first-hand accounts from Haitian and Caribbean universities.

Experts’ Seminar

The IAU Experts’ Seminar (Maputo, January 2007) validated a real need for further exploration of the linkages between higher education and EFA and for IAU to spearhead this work, thus serving as a springboard for the next phase.

Capacity building

IAU HEEFA Workshop Mexico Organized in partnership with an IAU Member institution/organisation, the IAU Collaborative Workshop: A three-step activity to envision higher education for Education for All locally brings together high-level representatives from the higher education community, relevant Ministries, educational bodies, civil society and schools, to discuss how to draw higher education more effectively and efficiently into local EFA activities. Participants are invited in a three-step process to “think out of the box” and to collectively develop a concrete action plan to strengthen higher education’s contribution in achieving EFA within the host country.

Step one is data collection from the participants who must reflect on how they perceive the link between higher education and EFA by completing the IAU Questionnaire on how higher education institutions could be better involved in EFA-related actions at the regional/national level. Step two is the Workshop during which participants analyze the questionnaire results and identify EFA priorities and ways how to better engage higher education. Step three is the follow-up actions undertaken by the participants to implement the Workshop outcomes.

Wish to collaborate in organising a Workshop? Read the Call for Participation.

IAU has already organised Workshops with:

Information sharing

Portal on Higher Education/Research for Education for All (HEEFA Portal): A collaborative platform to build on work undertaken by higher education in related-EFA fields, find an expert, or read publications, articles and discussions.

IAU Information Kit, Why and How Can Higher Education Contribute to All Levels and Types of Education?, clearly and concretely answers the essential questions of what, why, how, where, and who to enhance the awareness of higher education institutions for a better involvement of the higher education sector in EFA and related MDGs. It highlights cases of how higher education and research is and/or could be engaged (Published in July 2009).