International Association of Universities
The Global Voice of Higher Education


Barcelona, Spain | 18-20 May 2022

The IAU engages with higher education (HE) stakeholders worldwide and shares our expertise on strategic issues for higher education and society. The actions in this section showcase how the Association actively contributed to the UNESCO WHEC2022 by offering university perspectives on leading-edge themes.

Download the proposed WHEC2022 Roadmap for higher education - Beyond Limits: New Ways to Reinvent Higher Education.

IAU activities at UNESCO WHEC2022

Aside from the inclusion of various IAU written contributions such as Open Knowledge Products and a Policy Brief, and as a key partner in WHEC2022, an event that serves to shape the future of higher education, the IAU organized three sessions at the conference.

In addition, Remus Pricopie, IAU Vice-President and President of FAP ALC-UE, was a keynote speaker at:

Two IAU pre-WHEC 2022 sessions:
Launch of IAU Horizons - Reinventing Higher Education?How does the pandemic shape the future of higher education?
The WHEC2022 concept note introduces the complex context in which higher education institutions operate worldwide. The assumption is that a new vision is needed, a reinvention of what higher education will mean in the future and for society’s future. During the launch webinarof IAU Horizons May 2022 issue, the authors discussed what is at stake for the future of higher education. Download the May Issue of IAU Horizons 27.1. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a transformative moment in history, mainly generating new challenges and new opportunities. This webinar investigates higher education in this new reality, drawing from the results of the second Global Survey on the impact of COVID-19 on higher education: “Higher Education One Year into the COVID-19 Pandemic” by the International Association of Universities (IAU).
Covid-19: Higher Education Challenges & ResponsesUNESCO Futures of Education initiative
The IAU continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation globally. Actions and initiatives include the Report on the Second Global Survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education published in March 2022 and submitted to the WHEC2022 as an Open Knowledge Product. The Report will also be presented at a virtual-side event at the WHEC2022. Additional resources provide information on developments on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on universities, recommendations and initiatives, opportunities to engage or exchange, and a selection of recent country-based and international news items on the subject.The IAU sits on the Advisory Board of the Futures of Education, a global initiative to reimagine how knowledge and learning can shape the future of humanity and the planet. The initiative catalyzes an international debate on how knowledge, education and learning need to be reimagined in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty, and precarity. The Futures Report “Reimagining our futures together: a new social contract for education” launched during the UNESCO General Conference in November 2021 can be accessed here.
Transforming Higher Education in a Digital WorldFuture of Higher Education
Digital transformation is one of the four strategic priorities of the IAU. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of higher education, and now is an opportune moment to reflect on to shape the future of higher education in an increasingly digital world. This Policy Statement outlines essential values and principles that must underpin the digital transformation. The final draft will be submitted for official endorsement at the IAU 16th General Conference in Dublin on 25-28 October 2022 in Dublin, Ireland. The IAU Webinar Series: The Future of Higher Education, launched in May 2020, offers a platform for exchange on key higher education topics. IAU has hosted and co-hosted over 40 webinars on a variety of themes, including leadership, internationalization, digital transformation, and sustainable development. This series gives an overview of historical developments in the HE sector and introduces emerging trends. the Association continues to pursue these important exchanges across borders.
IAU WHEDThe Continuing Need for Internationalization of Higher Education
The World Higher Education Database (WHED) is a unique resource for the practical implementation of the UNESCO Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications. The WHED supports global academic recognition and international cooperation while reinforcing quality assurance and credentialing. It provides authoritative information on some 19,800 accredited higher education institutions and higher education systems and credentials in 196 countries and territories. The Network of International Education Associations (NIEA) submitted a Policy Brief on “The Continuing Need for Internationalization of Higher Education” to the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference (WHEC2022). IAU is a coordinator of NIEA, composed of 15 leading organisations in the internationalization of higher education. This Policy Brief underlines the importance of international cooperation and exchange in tackling the challenges humankind faces today, as expressed in the UN Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.
UNESCO Futures of Education InitiativeHigher Education Institutions & Lifelong Learning
In highlighting SDG 4 on quality education and the cross-cutting nature of all SDGs, universities are regarded as key actors in achieving the 17 goals set out by Agenda 2030. Accordingly, the University of Bergen and UNESCO established the Global Independent Expert Group on the Universities and the 2030 Agenda (EGU2030). Together with ISC, IAU is a partner in this initiative and contributed to the EGU2030 Report. The Report to be presented at the WHEC2022 can be accessed here. UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) is one of UNESCO’s key education-related institutes and holds a global mandate for lifelong learning. In 2020 - 2021 IAU and UIL collaborated on the elaboration and dissemination of a Global Survey on the role of HE for LLL. The outcomes report will be presented at the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference 2022.
About the WHEC 2022
UNESCO World Higher Education Conference (WHEC2022) aims at reshaping ideas and practices in higher education to ensure sustainable development for the planet and humanity. The third UNESCO World HE Conference in Barcelona on 18-20 May 2022 will be an opportunity to deepen and expand joint knowledge production, policy dialogue, exchange, and networking. UNESCO considers the process of collective construction as the greatest richness of this conference, which aims to become a global conversation nurtured by diverse narratives on higher education.
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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