International Association of Universities
The Global Voice of Higher Education
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About IAU

  • Contact

    International Association of Universities
    International Universities Bureau
    UNESCO House
    1, rue Miollis
    75732 Paris Cedex 15
    Tel.: (33 1) 45 68 48 00
    Fax: (33 1) 47 34 76 05

    Contact us

    You can leave a message using the contact form below.

  • Annual reports

    IAU annual reports provide a yearly overview of IAU activities and accomplishments. Featuring financial information, they contribute to the Association’s total transparency.

    Annual Report 2021

    Annual Report 2020
    Annual Report 2019

    - Annual Report 2018
    - Annual Report 2017
    - Annual Report 2016
    - Annual Report 2015
    - Annual Report 2014
    - Annual Report 2013
    - Annual Report 2012
    - Annual Report 2011
    - Annual Report 2010
    - Annual Report 2009
    - Annual Report 2008
    - Annual Report 2007
    - Annual Report 2006
    - Annual Report 2005


    - IAU Activities and Financial Report 2012-2016
    - IAU Activities and Financial Report 2008-2012
    - IAU Activities and Financial Report 2004-2008
    - IAU Activities and Financial Report 2000-2004

  • Policy Statements

    IAU adopts positions and develops Policy Statements on issues of global concern for higher education. The topics are identified by the Association’s leadership and membership. Each Statement is the product of extensive drafting and international consultations. All statements are endorsed by the General Conference of the Association.

    The topics of such Policy Statements are usually identified by the Association’s leadership and membership as requiring the attention of the international academic community. IAU Policy Statements most frequently identify the issue area, present a number of key principles and include a few recommendations for action at either the institutional or the governmental level or both.

    Traditionally, the development of an IAU Policy Statement has been delegated by the IAU Administrative Board to a small Working Group or Reference Group whose members are drawn from each world region. IAU is committed to being the global voice for higher education institutions hence the international composition of the Expert Groups is essential in order to ensure that each Policy Statement reflects the collective interests of higher education without ignoring the specific concerns or interests of institutions in various parts of the world.

    IAU contributes to international debates on higher education by publishing papers on a variety of issues in journals, magazines and by contributing book chapters to key publications around the world. Please click here to view a sample. IAU takes part in debates to advance fair, inclusive and value based higher education around the world (please click here).

    IAU Policy Statements:

    - IAU The Continuing Need for Internationalization of Higher Education, 2022

    - IAU Transforming Higher Education in a Digital World, 2022

    - IAU Iquitos Statement on Education for Sustainable Development, 2014

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

    - IAU-MCO Guidelines for an Institutional Code of Ethics in Higher Education, 2012, Prepared in collaboration with the Magna Charta Observatory

    - Equitable Access, Success and Quality in Higher Education, 2008

    - Sharing Quality Higher Education Across Borders: A Statement on Behalf of Higher Education Institutions Worldwide, 2005, List of signatories, Prepared in collaboration with AUCC, ACE and CHEA

    - Universities and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), 2004

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

    -  Academic freedom, Institutional Autonomy and Social Responsibility , 1998

    - The Buenos Aires Statement on Higher Education Funding, 1994

    - Kyoto Declaration on Sustainable Development, 1993

  • Secretariat

    The International Universities Bureau is IAU’s permanent Secretariat and its major instrument of programme implementation, along with the Administrative Board, various Committees and Working Groups. Created by UNESCO in 1949, the Bureau was instrumental in preparing the International University Conference in Nice, 1950, at which the IAU was founded. Today, under the authority of the IAU and as a partner organization of UNESCO, its mission includes:

    • Monitoring and analysing trends in higher education and research at global level,
    • Collecting and sharing information,
    • Developing IAU positions and advocacy


    Hilligje van’t Land, Secretary General bio contact

    Andreas Corcoran, Deputy Secretary General bio contact

    Saholi Andriambololo-Nivo, Assistant, Reference Publications bio contact

    Justine Evans, Manager, Communication & Media bio contact

    Jessica Huang, Assistant, Administration and Membership bio contact

    Trine Jensen, Manager, HE & Digital Transformation, Publication and Events bio contact

    Giorgio Marinoni, Manager, HE and Internationalization policy and projects bio contact

    Angella Nino, Manager, Finance and Administration bio contact

    Nicholas Poulton, Information and Publication Officer bio contact

    Samuel Pousson, Assistant, Reference Publications bio contact

    Georgeta Sadlak, Manager, Information Systems bio contact

    Carine Sébast, Manager, Reference Publications bio contact

    Isabel Toman, Programme Officer, Sustainable Development bio contact

    >>> IAU is pleased to welcome interns in 2022:

    Emma Furlan, Intern at the IAU bio contact

    Elisa Guidi, Intern at the IAU bio contact

    Meg Harris, Intern at the IAU bio contact

    International Association of Universities - International Universities Bureau
    UNESCO House
    1, rue Miollis
    75732 Paris Cedex 15
    Tel.: (33 1) 45 68 48 00
    Fax: (33 1) 47 34 76 05
    Contact us here

  • Secretary General

    Hilligje van’t Land
    IAU Secretary General, International Association of Universities
    Executive Director, International Universities Bureau


    As is the case everywhere in the world, for IAU the years 2019-20 and 2020-2021 have been unprecedented and challenging ones, characterised by uncertainty, complexity, and disruption, but also by accelerated innovation, and the enormous resilience and humanity we share as a global higher education community. The profound health, economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic provides the opportunity for a critical redefinition of the way in which universities and other higher education institutions, and as well their organisations and associations operate.

    IAU was quick to adapt to the new normal and decided to make optimal use of the available resources through several new initiatives. While physical events were no longer conceivable, we pivoted all our activities online. This fundamental transformation to our operation mode has however been consistent with the IAU values and goals.

    To enhance cooperation and exchange, we launched the IAU Webinar Series on the Future of Higher Education – short, medium, and long-term perspectives, to bring together different ideas and perspectives from Members of our global community of universities and higher education institutions.

    A new set of pages was introduced on the IAU website, bringing together COVID-related news and updates from all over the world. In solidarity with the broader higher education sector, we also allowed free access to the World Higher Education Database as well as our other services and activities for Members as well as non-members. Furthermore, we launched the IAU series of Global Surveys of the Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education, a second of which was launched in February and open till 1 June 2021 – the Report will be drafted over the summer; a third one will be drafted and launched in late 2022. More detailed information on these initiatives is available on this website.

    Even as the full toll of COVID-19 becomes apparent, it is clear that the Higher Education sector, like all others, must be prepared for future events with the potential to severely disrupt ‘normal’ operations. Understanding change, responding to it, and managing it, requires strong leadership. I believe now is an unprecedented opportunity to drive radical transformation of our education systems and institutions for the benefit of society. As we look to the future, we must set our ambitions even higher — to accelerate societal progress, drive sustainable growth and heighten our global impact. Together, we can achieve what IAU founders envisioned: a more peaceful society, prosperous world, and sustainable future for higher education. The road ahead is however paved with challenges again as we see populism grow, detractors to the value of science and facts become more vocal and higher education’s value for society on the one hand cheered and on the other challenged. We need to care for the sector together to ensure it will receive the trust it deserves and the support it needs in order to fully contribute to building a better and more inclusive world post COVID-19.

    With the IAU President, the full and deputy Board Members of the Administrative Board and the Members of the IAU Secretariat, I would like to thank all Members and partners for their much valued commitment and support to the work of the Association and your active engagement during this past year. We commit to continue to address the new challenges ahead and to best seize the opportunities and will put all valuable lessons learnt to the benefit of navigating complexity with agility, innovation, entrepreneurship, and responsible leadership to further our mission of building stronger, more accessible, and sustainable higher education systems all over the world.

    Hilligje van‘t Land, PhD

  • President’s Message

    Dr. Pam Fredman
    IAU President (2016-2021)
    Former Rector of Gothenburg University, Sweden

    President message April the 2021
    Welcome to the IAU home page where you will find information about activities framed by the IAU vision and mission – to promote and advocate for the role of research and higher education for a democratic and sustainable development of society, with local relevance and global responsibility.

    The strength of IAU as the global voice for Higher Education is to advocate for HE to policy- and decision-makers; to provide a valuable platform for cooperation and for sharing knowledge in HE, building on the participation and engagement from Members and partners and of other stakeholders in HE. This is well reflected in the celebrations to mark the IAU’s 70th anniversary.

    IAU marked its 70th anniversary on the 9th of December 2020. The plan was to celebrate it at the IAU 16th General Conference planned to take place in Dublin, but, as we all know, the pandemic impacted on our plans as well and on-site meetings became impossible. However, the anniversary was successfully held as an on line event with participants from all over the world, even despite the time differences. Several distinguished speakers, including Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director General for Education at UNESCO - the founding organisation of the IAU -, shared their reflections on the importance and relevance of a global community of Higher education institutions and organisation, and debated the future of HE. Member institutions and organizations, current and former board members and presidents and senior fellows provided for high quality inputs. You will find fantastic short video messages from Members giving their views on IAU; an electronic copy of the special edition of IAU Horizons celebrating 70 years of Higher Education cooperation and presenting a series of though provoking texts on the future of HE (see:vol.25, no.2, 2020).

    As a consequence of the pandemic, the IAU Administrative Board unanimously took the decision to postpone the General Conference to 2022. IAU is grateful to Andrew Deeks, VC, University College Dublin (UCD) to support this decision and to agree to host the Conference in October 2022. The postponement has meant that elections to the board and president also could not be held as planned. The Board members and the President have accepted to extend their mandate with an extra year. This also means that the strategic plan adopted in 2016 is extended until revision by the General Conference in 2022.

    The IAU Key Thematic Priorities of work are to some extent more relevant than ever, and the importance of these for HE has been highlighted during the pandemic. So has the importance of Agenda 2030 – Transforming our World, and the interconnectedness of the 17 SDGs to realize it. Since April 2020, IAU has been pleased to organize and offer for free a weekly series of International Webinars in which the challenges in HE and the opportunities they have been counterbalanced with are being discussed – the Webinar recordings are all available on the IAU YouTube Channel available from this website; upcoming Webinars as well.

    The transfer to online meetings has facilitated invitation and participation of speakers and audiences from all over the world. Yet the transfer to online and virtual mode is not equally accessible to all. The risk of increased inequality in HE is one consequence highlighted in the 2020 IAU global survey on the impact of COVID-19 on HE. Other key challenges stressed include: reduced access to HE, uneven yet substantial decrease of funding for HE, including for education and research in different parts of the world and differently impacting disciplines. But there are also issues that can be jointly address at both the global and local levels. The Report of the 1st Global Survey and the initial results of the 2nd and still ongoing survey on the impacts of Covid-19 on HE can be found on this website as well.

    Let me conclude by inviting you to further your cooperation efforts around the world and to develop joint actions and initiatives in order to promote and meet the expectations and needs for high quality HE - education, research and community engagement - for the benefit of society, locally and globally; higher quality HE that leaves no one and no knowledge behind!

    Looking forward to welcoming you to IAU events and activities,

    Best regards,

    Pam Fredman

  • Governance Structure

    The International Association of Universities is a membership organization. It is governed by its Members who are represented or elect their representatives to three different decision-making bodies. The two main categories of Members who hold decision making power are the Institutional Members (universities & other higher education institutions) and Organizational Members (association of universities). IAU official statutory documents: IAU Consitution & IAU By Laws



    The General Conference is the highest decision-making body of the association. It is composed of all IAU institutional and organizational members. The General Conference meets every four years. The General Conference decides on the main strategic goals of the association, approves its four year plans, any policy statements or positions elaborated. It elects the President and members of the Administrative Board.


    Elected for a 4-year non-renewable term, the IAU President is elected from among members of the Administrative Board by the General Conference. He/She chairs the Administrative Board and the Executive Committee. Exceptionally due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the IAU 16th General Conference and the Elections of the new Administrative Board had to be postponed from 2020 to 2022. As a consequence, and in consultation with the IAU Board, formal decision has been taken to extend the mandate of the IAU President until 2022.

    All the member of the Administrative Board are elected for a four-year term. In addition to the President, the Board comprises 20 members (18 heads of member institutions & 2 heads of member organizations). It also comprises two ex-officio members (Immediate Past President & the Secretary General). Deputy members are also elected for each region and each category of members. A balanced geographic and gender representation are taken into consideration. The Administrative Board meets annually, ensures that decisions of the General Conference are implemented and guides the work of the IAU Secretariat. Some of its work is carried out through specific committees and working groups.

    Exceptionally due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the IAU General Conference and the elections of the new Administrative Board had to be postponed from 2020 to 2022. As a consequence, and in consultation with the IAU Board, formal decision has been taken to extend the mandate of the IAU Administrative Board Members elected in 2016 until 2022.

    The Executive Committee is composed of the President and four Vice-Presidents (representing each region of the world). It meets twice a year. The vice-presidents are designated by the President from among the Administrative Board members and their nomination is approved by the Administrative Board. The IAU Secretary General serves as secretary to the Executive Committee. The Committee acts on behalf of the Administrative Board between meetings. It guides the Association’s action agenda. It provides support to the President of the Association by preparing the meetings of the Administrative Board.


    IAU Administrative Board

    Pam Fredman, Former Rector, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

    Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, Rector at the International ‎Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Malaysia



    • Abdul Ganiyu Ambali, Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Nigeria (IAU Vice-President)
    • Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana, Ghana
    • Paul Zeleza, Former Vice-Chancellor, United States International University-Africa, Kenya


    Asia & Pacific



    • Zoltan Dubéczi, Secretary-General, MRK (Hungarian Rectors Conference), Hungary
    • Roberto Escalante Semerena, Secretary-General, UDUAL (Unión de Universidades de América Latina y el Caribe), Mexico (IAU Vice-President)

    Secretary General


    Asia & Pacific



    • Justin Thorens, President 1985-1990, Former Rector, Université de Genève, Switzerland
    • Hans Van Ginkel, President 2000-2004, Former Rector, Utrecht University, Netherlands; Former Rector, United Nations University, Japan
    • Goolam Mohamedbhai, President 2004-2008, Former Secretary-General, Association of African Universities (AAU), Ghana
    • Juan Ramón De La Fuente, President 2008-2012, Former Rector, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico

    • 1950-1955: 1st President - Jean Sarrailh, Rector of the University of Paris, France
    • 1955-1960: 2nd President - J. Baugniet, Rector Emeritus of the Universityof Brussels, Belgium
    • 1960-1965: 3rd President - F. Cyril James, Principal & Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, Canada
    • 1965-1970: 4th President - C. K. Zurayk, Professor of History, American University of Beirut and former rector, University of Damascus, Syria
    • 1970-1975: 5th President - V. Merikoski, Professor of law, University of Helsinki, Finland
    • 1975-1980: 6th President - Roger Gaudry, Professor of History, Former rector University of Montreal,Canada
    • 1980-1985: 7th President - Guillermo Soberon, Rector, National Autonomous University of Mexico had to step down in 1982 when he was appointed Minister of Public Health in Mexico. The Vice-Presidents, Dr. Sendov, Former Rector, University of Sofia, Bulgaria
      and Dr. Meyerson, President Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania were acting Presidents until the following elections.
    • 1985-1990: 8th President - Justin Thorens, former rector, University of Geneva, Switzerland
    • 1990-1995: 9th President - Walter Kamba, Vice-Chancellor, University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
    • 1995-2000: 10th President - Wataru Mori, Former President of the University of Tokyo, Japan
    • 2000-2004: 11th President - Hans Van Ginkel, Rector of the United Nations University (UNU)
    • 2004-2008: 12th President - Goolam Mohamedbhai, Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Mauritius, Mauritius
    • 2008-2012: 13th President - Juan Ramón De La Fuente, Former Rector, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico
    • 2012-2016: 14th President - Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, Former rector of University Sains Malaysia, Malaysia


    - Pam Fredman, Former Rector, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

    - Abdul Ganiyu Ambali, Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
    - Pornchai Mongkhonvanit, President, Siam University, Thailand (First VP)
    - Remus Pricopie, Rector, National University of Political and Administrative Studies, Romania (Treasurer)
    - Roberto Escalante Semerena, Secretary-General, UDUAL (Unión de Universidades de América Latina y el Caribe), Mexico

    - Hilligje van’t Land, Secretary General

  • Vision & Mission

    Founded in 1950, under the auspices of UNESCO, the International Association of Universities (IAU) is the leading global association of higher education institutions and organisations from around the world.

    IAU is an independent, bilingual (English and French), non-governmental, membership organization. IAU membership is open to higher education institutions (HEIs) and organisations.

    As a global forum for leaders of institutions and associations, IAU convenes and connects almost 600 Members from more than 130 countries to identify, reflect and act on common priorities. It acts as the global voice of higher education to a wide range of international and inter-governmental organizations, in particular to UNESCO. Members avail of a wide range of services on a priority basis, but these extend also to other HE stakeholders, such as organisations, institutions, higher education authorities, policy and decision-makers, specialists, administrators, teachers, researchers and students.

    IAU is funded primarily through its membership fees and depends on these to effectively carry out its wide portfolio of activities encompassing its series of online webinars and thematic debates, events and conferences, publications, projects and other initiatives.
    We need your support to maintain our high quality services and advocacy for the key transformative role higher education plays in society - for a better and more sustainable world.

    IAU is an official partner of UNESCO (Associate status) and has been given special consultative status by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
    IAU was granted the participatory status with the Council of Europe.

    For more information on IAU’s activities and membership, please consult our brochure.

    IAU aims to be the most representative and influential global association of diverse higher education institutions and their organizations, promoting and advancing a dynamic leadership role for higher education in society.

    IAU promotes collaboration among its Members by articulating the fundamental values and principles that underpin the pursuit, dissemination and application of knowledge. The Association advocates for higher education policies and practices that respect diverse perspectives and promote social responsibility. With a particular emphasis on values and leadership, and acting as a forum for sharing and joint action, IAU encourages innovation, mutual learning and cooperation among institutions.

    IAU promotes core values among its members and the wider higher education community including:
    • Academic freedom, institutional autonomy and social responsibility locally and globally
    • Cooperation and solidarity based on mutuality of interests and shared benefits
    • Tolerance of divergent opinions, freedom from political interference
    • Equity in access and success in higher education and open access to knowledge
    • Scientific integrity and ethical behaviour as cornerstones of conduct for all stakeholders in higher education
    • Higher education and research in the public interest
    • Quality in learning, research and outreach


    IAU works to enhance higher education community’s role and actions in advancing societies worldwide. As a global membership organization, IAU represents and serves the full spectrum of higher education institutions and their associations. The Strategic plan 2016-2020, adopted during the 15th IAU General Conference, in 2016, it deepens IAU’s focus on four key higher education priority themes, while improving support and services to members as well as enhancing their visibility and engagement. Under the current circumstances marked by COVID 19, the IAU strategic plan is extended until is submitted to the IAU 16th General Conference in October 2022.

    IAU 4 strategic priorities:

    IAU fulfils its goals through:

    • Expertise development & trends analysis
    • Publications & specialized portals
    • Advisory services
    • Training & peer-to-peer learning
    • Knowledge sharing events
    • Global advocacy & representation

    IAU continuously enhances its efficiency by:

    • Engaging & enlarging IAU membership
    • Ensuring financial sustainability
NGO in official partnership with UNESCO in associate status
International Association of Universities, UNESCO House, 1 rue Miollis, 75732 Paris cedex 15, France
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