International Association of Universities
The Global Voice of Higher Education
EN  |   FR

Home > Knowledge hub

IAU Lynx March 2021


March 2021

IAU Lynx offers a monthly overview of higher education developments around the world. It covers new policies, initiatives and projects on various higher education topics. The information is classified by international, regional, bilateral and national initiatives.



UNESCO has just released the Practical Guide to Recognition: Implementing the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education. It provides a step-by step practical approach to recognition of foreign qualifications both for credential evaluation practitioners and for individuals seeking recognition of their foreign qualifications.

UNESCO has published the report Boosting Gender Equality in Science and Technology: a Challenge for TVET Programmes and Careers. It identifies successful practice in increasing the participation and performance of girls and women in STEM-related TVET, and initiatives to improve the participation of women in STEM-related occupations.

To confront the COVID-19 pandemic, parties of the Tokyo Convention issued a statement in which they call for strengthened cooperation and “commit to (…) protecting the rights of an individual to have their studies and qualifications recognized and/or assessed fairly and transparently, including those using non-traditional modes such as online and blended learning”.

Laureates of the 11th edition of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Sub-Sahara Africa Programme have been revealed. Since 2010 the Prize rewards each year twenty women scientists for the excellence of their work and supports them to pursue their research through grants of €10,000 for PhD students and €15,000 for post-doctorates.

UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE)

The policy brief AI in Education: Change at the Speed of Learning describes the advancements in technology and explores the promises of AI for students, teachers, school leaders, parents and education administrators. It also highlights the ethical aspects of AI implementation and challenges that it might bring.

UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC)

UNESCO IESALC has released the report Towards Universal Access to Higher Education: International Trends. (Spanish version).Themes covered include: global patterns in access to higher education, drivers and barriers to achieving universal access to higher education, enabling policies, access versus success rates in higher education, and effects of increased access on quality, equity and performance in higher education.

On 17 November, UNESCO IESALC organised the webinar “Access of the Most Disadvantaged to Higher Education is a Challenge to Face in Latin America and the Caribbean” . It highlighted the advances and challenges faced by the region and the aggravation of the situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic in social commitment, access, social mobility, more inclusive admission processes and decentralisation.

IESALC presented the Report “Towards Universal Access to Higher Education: International Trends” In the framework of the third edition of the World Day for Higher Education (WAHED), at the Conference "Inequalities in Access to Higher Education for Disadvantaged Populations in the Latin American and Caribbean Region in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic", held on 17 November.

International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP UNESCO)

IIEP UNESCO has released the online recording of the Strategic Debate Resilience in Higher Education - What Lessons Can We Draw from COVID-19? held online 26 November 2020 in which Hilligje van’t Land, Secretary General of IAU, took part. In light of the current health crisis, participants examined the factors that foster resilience in higher education, and what should be taken into account for the future of planning higher education. Watch recording.

IIEP-UNESCO held online the Latin America Regional Forum on Education Policy, November 9-13, meant to provide a space for dialogue and reflection with the goal of promoting strategies to advance towards achieving the Education 2030 Agenda. Attending ministries of education and officials from all the region developed recommendations and lines of action for building inclusive education in challenging post-pandemic times.

- Scholars at Risk

Scholars at risk has released a new report: Free to Think 2020, the Report of the Scholars at Risk Academic Freedom Monitoring Project. The report analyses 341 attacks on higher education communities in 58 countries between September 2019 and August 2020

- International Council for Distance Education (ICDE)

On the 25th of November, ICDE completed a ’virtual marathon’ through 18 hours of leadership discussions across 6 regions within 24 hours. Higher education leaders convened to discuss challenges, needs and solution to the topic: Recalibrating educational leadership for resilient education.

Return to top


Africa - Americas - Asia & Pacific - Europe

- Africa

The third World Access to Higher Education Day (WAHED) 2020 event was held on 17 November. The event was hosted virtually by the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Concentrating on Africa, the event examined how the COVID-19 pandemic has increased inequality in African higher education but, where universities have had successes in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, they can build on their experience to deal with the challenge.

- Americas

Asociación de Universidades Grupo Montevideo

At its meeting on 17 November, the Council of Rectors of the Association of Universities of the Montevideo Group released a declaration in which it expressed its growing concern about the lack of respect for and the violation of university autonomy in the region, and urged the public authorities of the States to safeguard it by granting it a budget and the necessary funding. Within this framework, the Council of Rectors approved the creation of the Regional Observatory of University Autonomy and Budgets, whose mission is to preserve and defend regional university autonomy.

Asociación Universitaria Iberoamericana de Postgrado

The Association has launched the “AUIP Sustainability Awards” with the aim of recognizing students who have focused their Doctoral thesis in relation to some of the SDGs. The prize is for Doctorants in universities belonging to a country in the Ibero-American Knowledge Area. Deadline: 30 December 2020.


The eLAC2022 Digital Agenda was approved and will be implemented over the next two years. It contains 39 objectives classified into 8 areas of action and a section on the pandemic and economic recovery, and was approved in the framework of the VII Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean, organized online by ECLAC and the Government of Ecuador. Goal 5 highlights the importance of "creating specialized digital and connectivity infrastructures to strengthen education, science and technology in the region".

Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (OEI)

TheMinistries of Education of the 23 OEI member states have given the green light to the organisation’s Programme Budget for the next two years. A more inclusive, digital, skills-based and human rights-based education, with a special focus on early childhood, as well as on higher education where academic mobility, research and scientific transfer of knowledge are key.

Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (IOHE)

The IOHE and the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Both institutions are committed to increasing opportunities for academic collaboration between Canada and the Americas. The MoU supports the strategy for academic cooperation between Canada and the Americas that was launched during the CAEI Montreal-2017 and reinforced in preparation for the CAEI Bogotá-2019.

Virtual Educa Lisboa

The Virtual Educa Global Forum "Connected Education" has made available to the public the recordings of the interventions during the Forum held between 23 and 24 November online.

Consejo Superior Universitario Centroamericano (CSUCA)

On 16 November 2020, the Central American Higher University Council held its conference in virtual mode. Innovative experiences of universities during the COVID pandemic were exchanged. As relevant results of the session, the General Secretariat’s Work Plan and budget for 2021 were approved.

- Asia & Pacific

Asia-Pacific Network of National Information Centres (APNNIC)

APNNIC, the regional network of National Information Centres (NICs) to the Tokyo Convention on the recognition of qualifications concerning higher education in the Asia-Pacific region, has launched a new portal that provides free and authoritative information on the recognition of qualifications to help facilitate physical or virtual mobility of students and academics.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

ADB has released the book Anticipating and Preparing for Emerging Skills and Jobs: Key Issues, Concerns, and Prospects, which contains a compilation of articles that examine the main drivers of change impacting upon society and the economy and, through them, on the evolving world of work. The book identifies and explores the implications of such developments for changes in education and training notably with regard to higher education.

- Europe

European Union

The European Parliament and EU Council agreed on 10 November on the EU’s multiannual financial framework. Horizon Europe is now set to receive 84.9bn Euros, meaning that its budget is increased by 4bn Euros compared to the amount reached in a decision in July. Erasmus+ is now set to reach 23.4bn Euros, compared to 21.2bn agreed in July.
The European University Association and the European Research Council have released Statements reacting to this developement

European Commission

The new European Commission “Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion” was released in November. It frames migrant integration under the overarching theme of “Inclusion for all”. With regard to higher education, the Action Plan emphasises the need for improved recognition of degrees, which would enhance labour market access and, generally, the social position of migrants. It acknowledges that in Europe today, a quarter of migrants are highly educated, and that 40% are overqualified for the job that they do. The European Universities Association has released a statement in response to the plan.

Return to top


Australia Belgium Brazil Canada
Chile China Colombia Egypt
Finland France Germany Guinea
Hong Kong Ireland Japan Kenya
Morocco Netherlands New Zealand Pakistan
Sweden United Kingdom United States Uruguay

-  Australia

Online learning
The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) has released the report Foundations for Good Practice: The Student Experience of Online Learning in Australian Higher Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Based on students experiences submitted by 118 HEIs, it analyses approaches taken by the providers and examples of good practice in the transition to online learning.

Indigenous students
Universities Australia in partnership with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium (NATSIHEC) have launched the new campaign Indigenous OpportUNIty which features a series of short social media videos and a website for potential students.

Graduate employment
The National Report of the 2020 Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS) of the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) survey programme provides updated information on the labour market outcomes, and further study activities of graduates. Areas of focus this year include: the impact of COVID-19 on labour force outcomes, gender differences, skills utilisation including graduate occupations.

Graduate employment - international students
The International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) has released the Second Edition of International Student Employability: A Guide for Australian Education Providers. It discusses the current challenges facing education providers and presents 10 best practice principles to enhance the prospects of international students in employment.

-  Belgium

Ministers of education have said that universities in Belgium can begin welcoming limited groups of students back on campus for certain exams or activities. The Flemish regional education minister, Ben Weyts, and the minister of higher education for the Brussels-Wallonia Federation, Valérie Glatigny, confirmed that both Flemish and Francophone universities will be able to hold on-site exams.

-  Brazil

The selection process for the Doctorate Programme Abroad (PDSE) offered by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Level Personnel (CAPES) is open. The selection allows students enrolled in doctorate courses evaluated with a score of four or higher in the last four years, who prove fluency in the foreign language of the destination institution, to undertake part of their training abroad.

-  Canada

Green Economy Scholarships - call for Applicants
The Canadian government has introduced a new short-term exchange opportunity in Canada for students from the Caribbean Community member states, who pursue qualifications in disciplines related to climate change and resilience building. The Canada-CARICOM Skills Training for the Green Economy Scholarships programme is facilitated through institutional collaborations and student exchange agreements between publicly funded Canadian colleges and institutes and post-secondary institutions across the CARICOM offering technical or vocational education and training (TVET). Application period: January to March 2021

International students
A new Statistics Canada study has shown that Canadian universities are increasingly reliant on international students studying in Canada – especially those from China – to boost their finance. China is the source of more than half of all international students in Canada. During the decade that closed at the end of the 2018-19 academic year, the growth in the number of international students attending Canadian universities and colleges far outstripped the growth in the number of Canadian students.

-  Chile

The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV) of Chile, through the Dirección de Estudios Avanzados (DEA), has created a set of financing instruments, for the strengthening and quality assurance of its postgraduate programmes. The implementation of this scholarship programme, in collaboration with the Ibero-American University Association for Postgraduate Studies (AUIP), is in line with this purpose, while favouring the recruitment of human talent and the internationalisation of the university and its programmes. Application deadline: 28 December 2020.

-  China
The National Conference on the Rule of Law in Higher Education was held at Nanjing University on November 5-6, 2020. It encouraged HEIs to improve instruments in relation to their constitution, mechanisms designed for protecting the rights and interests of teachers and students, and legal risk mitigation systems, in addition to strengthening education on the Constitution and the rule of law.

-  Colombia

Education budget
President Ivan Duque passed the Budget Law for 2021, which earmarks 47.3 billion pesos for the education sector. The Education sector receives the largest budget approved by Congress for the third consecutive year.

The Ibero-American Seminar on Quality Practices in Internationalization was held on 9 - 10 December 2020, promoted by the Colombian Association of Universities - ASCUN, the Organisation of Ibero-American States (OEI), in collaboration with the International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC-UNESCO), the Autonomous University of Bucaramanga in Colombia (UNAB), the University of Alcalá in Spain (UAH) and the National University of Córdoba in Argentina. Topics such as the OEI’s Universidad Iberoamérica 2030 project, the effects of the pandemic on the internationalisation of universities and experiences in virtual mobility were discussed.

-  Egypt

The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) has released the annual fact book on undergraduate and graduate students at the Egyptian universities and colleges for the year 2019.

-  Finland

The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) published the report Flexible Learning Pathways in Higher Education. Finland’s country case study as part of IIEP-UNESCO’s global research project – SDG4: Planning for Flexible Learning Pathways in Higher Education. It offers evidence-based policy recommendations for the Ministry of Education and Culture and HEIs to improve the learning experience for all students and close equity gaps.

-  France

The Prime Minister has announced to the Conference of University Presidents (Conférence des présidents d’université (CPU) a possible progressive return to in-class teaching in January depending on the evolution of the pandemic.

-  Germany

There have been major impacts on the international education sector in Germany due to the pandemic, according to an article published recently.

-  Guinea

The Guinean Ministry of Higher Education and Research has put in place a dedicated platform ECP (Espace de continuité pédagogique). The platform aims to assist students as they continue to study during the Covid-19 pandemic and is full of resources and tools designed to help students (in French).

-  Hong Kong

In his 2020 Policy Address, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong announced the introduction of the “Global STEM Professorship Scheme” a five-year plan meant to further support the UGC-funded universities to recruit outstanding research talent to work in Hong Kong.

The University Grants Committee (UGC) will allocate $50 million to the eight UGC-funded universities for strengthening their student support services in response to the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Initiatives to be taken will cover areas such as psychological counselling, mental well-being and career planning and development, physical fitness and healthy lifestyle.

-  Ireland

According to the Irish Universities Association (IUA), universities are estimated to be facing a combined deficit of at least €102m between this academic year and the last due to the effects of the pandemic.

-  Japan

The Japan University Accreditation Association (JUAA) and The Mongolian National Council for Education Accreditation (MNCEA) and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to build and develop collaborative relationships.

-  Kenya

The Kenya Space Agency has awarded development grants to local universities for nanosatellite development and operational space weather study under the Research Chairs (RC) programme as they aim to build up the country’s socio-economic development

-  Morocco

Proposed reforms by the Moroccan Ministry of Higher Education that would, introduce a new four year undergraduate degree instead of the current three years has led to opposition among both students and professors. The plan was supposed to be implemented this academic year, but has been delayed by a year. The proposed reforms come in an attempt to improve the quality of university education and the quality of students graduating.

-  Netherlands

The Dutch government has announced a set of measures to help safeguard knowledge security at the country’s universities and research institutions. The measures will prevent the transfer of sensitive knowledge and technology that could harm the country’s national security or lead to limits on academic freedom, the cabinet outlined in a letter.

-  New Zealand

Educational policy
The newly revealed Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) sets out the Government’s current and medium-term priorities, and long-term strategic direction for higher education. It is intended to address economic, social and environmental goals, and the development aspirations of Māori and other population groups

New minister briefing
Universities New Zealand has issued a briefing for the incoming Minister of Education that provides an overview of the key problems, challenges, and opportunities facing the university sector. It identifies 8 priorities and focuses on how to achieve these objectives in ways that ensure the country’s university system remains viable and effective in the long term.

- Pakistan

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has announced a new Policy Guidance for the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), following the Government’s decision regarding continuation of education during the 2nd wave of COVID-19. Areas covered include the duration of closure for academic institutions, the rescheduling of winter holidays, campus presence, examination planning, hostels occupation and financial support to help public sector universities improve the quality of online education.

- Sweden

The special investigator for proposing a new structure for innovation support at public universities in Sweden, Alf Karlsson, has published a report proposing a major restructure of HE by 2022 to a more nationally coordinated and better functioning and funded system.

-  United Kingdom

Covid and student returns
New guidance published by the Department for Education sets out how higher education institutions should manage student returns from January. All students should be offered Covid tests when they return to university. The Government also announced a one-off fund of up to £20 million to help students most in need of support.

International students and immigration
Universities UK has released guidance is to support university employers to transition to the skilled worker route under the new points-based immigration system.

-  United States

On 2 December, the American Council on Education (ACE) and over 100 other higher education associations sent a letter to House and Senate leaders documenting the extreme financial stress that colleges and universities have been under during the pandemic. The letter urges Congress and the Administration to finalize negotiations as quickly as possible on a supplemental spending to provide at least $120 billion in needed support to students and campuses across the country.

Data from the National Student Clearinghouse show that first-time enrollment at colleges and universities in the United States decreased by 13% from fall 2019 to fall 2020.

- Uruguay

The Education Directorate of the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC) released the publication "Characterization of non-formal education in Uruguay". The presentation was attended by the Minister of Education and Culture, Pablo da Silveira, who welcomed the study which "disarms many prejudices that exist about non-formal education”.

- Vietnam

Over 100,000 university students in Ho Chi Minh City have been asked to stay at home while many other universities are stepping up efforts to deal with new local Covid-19 transmissions.

Return to top

IAU Lynx November Edition
IAU Lynx October Edition
IAU Lynx September Edition

IAU Lynx coordinator: Amanda Sudic
Collaborating team: Nicholas Poulton, Samuel Pousson, Carine Sebast and Lianne Guerra
Contact: [email protected]
© IAU 2020

NGO in official partnership with UNESCO in associate status
International Association of Universities, UNESCO House, 1 rue Miollis, 75732 Paris cedex 15, France
Contact  |   Sitemap  |   Terms of use  |   Credits