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.



The UNESCO Policy brief Building Ecosystems for Online and Blended Learning: Advancing Equity and Excellence in Higher Education in the Asia-Pacific highlights important questions for national policy makers in the Asia-Pacific to enhance online and blended learning for quality higher education.

Nominations are open for the 2021 UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development which recognises the role of education in connecting the social, economic, cultural and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. Each of the three recipients will be awarded USD 50,000. Deadline: 30 April 2021

Laureates of the 23rd L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Awards were announced on the International Day for Women and Girls in Science in February. Five women researchers in mathematics, astrophysics, chemistry and informatics were honoured.

The 2021 call for applications of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Young Talents Programmes is open. Women scientists at doctoral and/or post-doctoral level are invited to submit their application for one of the national and regional programmes aimed at promoting and encouraging young women researchers, helping them to pursue their research in institutions at home or abroad.

The second UNESCO Engineering Report, Engineering for Sustainable Development: Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals has been released. It highlights the lack of diversity in the field, the crucial role of engineering in achieving the 17 SDGs and discusses engineering education and capacity-building for sustainable development as well as regional trends in Engineering.

A new pilot project has been launched to trial the UNESCO Qualification Passport (UQP) in Iraq. It is the first step to build bridges between the Iraqi qualification authorities and other QAs around the globe, to facilitate mutual-learning opportunities among UNESCO member states.

Russia and Afghanistan will respectively become the 10th and 11th States to ratify the Asia-Pacific Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education, known as the Tokyo Convention.

UNESCO launched in March the free online course “Education for Global Citizenship: Youth, Human Rights and Participation in Latin America and the Caribbean” (Educación para la Ciudadanía Mundial: Juventud, derechos humanos y participación en América Latina y el Caribe), aimed at youth from all over the world, the course aims to reflect on the most urgent global challenges, identifying successful youth strategies and practices to transform communities and regions.

UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNESCO IESALC)
The latest issue (number 32/Nº 2) of the journalEducación Superior y Sociedad (ESS) (Higher Education and Society) - investigates a series of experiences and practices showing how HEIs in Latin America and the Caribbean contribute to the achievement of the SDGs through the exercise of their academic functions (teaching, research, extension or interaction with society, comprehensive and systemic contributions).
(Spanish version only)

UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNESCO IESALC)/Ibero-American Observatory of Science, Technology and Society (OCTS-OEI)
UNESCO IESALC and OCTS-OEI released the report Investigación y vínculo con la sociedad en Universidades de América Latina (Research and the Link with Society in Latin American Universities) at the Second Virtual Forum of Rectors held by the CILAC Forum on December 10. The publication discusses the features of Latin American Higher Education Systems, science and technology trends in the region, production and transfer of knowledge in the universities of Latin America, Universities’ response to the COVID-19 crisis.

International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP UNESCO)
IIEP UNESCO posted online the recording of the Strategic Debate Resilience in higher education - what lessons can we draw from COVID-19? Held online 26 November 2020 - In which the Hilligje van’t Land, Secretary General of IAU, took part.

IIEP-UNESCO held online the 2020 edition of theRegional Forum on Education Policy, in November, 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.

- Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF)

AUF in the Caribbean is launching a doctoral mobility programme to support doctoral students from member universities of the Caribbean registered in a host university based outside their country of origin.

The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), has announced a new “AUF Plan for Lebanon”. Together with research agency CNRS-Liban the programme entitled ’3R Liban : Research. Responses. Resiliance’ , launching a call for research projects. In conjuenction with this, in November the AUF annonced the funding of more than one million euros, includes support for the acceleration of the transition to digital university education and an increase in grants paid to Lebanese doctoral students.

- International Council for Distance Education (ICDE)

The ICDE Advocacy Committee’s survey report 2020: Implementation of the UNESCO recommendation on Open Education Resources (OER) is available online. Based on the findings of the ICDE OER Advocacy Committee (OERAC) survey, this report aims to provide a general baseline against which the international community can map future progress toward the UNESCO OER Recommendation. The report also aims to provide context and recommended next steps, with a special recognition of COVID-19’s impact on OER activities.

International Association of University Presidents (IAUP)/Santander Universidades

The Report Leadership Responses to COVID-19: A Global Survey of College and University Leadership has been released. It analyses the HEIs leadership responses to COVID-19. It offers global, regional, sectoral, national (for United States, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil United Kingdom, Spain, India, Japan) perspectives.

Return to top


Africa - Americas - Asia & Pacific - Europe

- Africa

The 6th annual conference of the West and Central African Research and Education Network takes place on 15 March, the online conference organised by the West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN) in partnership with Agence pour le Développement du Numérique (ADN Benin) is titled ‘Digital transformation for development’. It will also focus on e-learning, open science and open access, ethics and governance, as well as responses and solutions to COVID-19 and beyond.

- Americas

Unión de Universidades de América Latina y el Caribe (UDUAL)
Video recordings of the virtual webinar Universidades del futuro visión 2030 Session 1 and held by UDUAL and ECESELI (Espacio Común de Educación Superior en Línea (ECESELI which took place in February are available. Participants discussed the future of internationalization in Brazilian universities, challenges faced by higher education institutions and strategies that the Caribbean Universities intend to follow, and windows of opportunities for 2030 that the pandemic offers to higher education institutions. (Session 1)

Conference of the Americas on International Education (CAEI)
TheConference of the Americas on International Education will be held from 19 to 22 October 2021. CAEI Chile-2021 calls on researchers and academics, specialists and representatives from civil society, to submit proposals for posters or parallel sessions that examine the ways in which international academic collaboration contributes to achieve collaborative solutions to our shared challenges.

Organization of American States (OAS)
The Technical Secretariat of the Inter-American Committee on Education has made resources available for Ministries of Education of the region to support their work during the COVID-19 crisis.

Secretaría General del Consejo Superior Universitario Centroamericano (CSUCA)
The IX Central American University Congress (IX Congreso Universitario Centroamericano) is convened to be held on 16 and 17 June 2021 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras at the National Autonomous University of Honduras. The activities will be carried out in semi-presential modality, with presentations and debates in virtual modality and also in physical presence modality. Proposals for papers will be accepted until 31 March in one of the 7 congress programmes.

- Asia & Pacific

Asian Development Bank
The briefing COVID-19 and Education in Asia and the Pacific has been released. It provides guidance to help developing countries address the disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic but also identifies critical policy reforms and concrete actions - framed as the three Rs - Response, Recovery, and Rejuvenation - to improve the quality, relevance, and inclusion of education systems over the long-term. All education levels - including higher education- are addressed.

Asian Association of Online Universities (AAOU)
Nominations are open for the AAOU 2021 Meritorious Service Award, that every year, recognises an individual for his/her outstanding services and contributions to open and distance education. Deadline for nomination: 26 March 2021.

- Europe

European Union

Micro-credentials are gaining momentum in the European Higher Education Area as an innovative way to support skills development, lifelong learning and inclusion within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and the European Union. In the latest Rome communiqué (November 2020) the 49 EHEA countries identified micro-credentials as a way to make the EHEA more innovative.

Return to top


Australia Bhutan Canada China
Colombia El Salvador France Germany
Honduras Hong Kong India Ireland
Japan Maldives Mozambique Netherlands
New Zealand Nicaragua Norway Singapore
Spain United Kingdom United States

-  Australia

New Minister
On 18 December 2020, Alan Tudge was appointed as Minister for Education and Youth following a Federal Cabinet reshuffle.

Research commercialisation
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) has launched a consultation to collect perspectives on the development of the University Research Commercialisation Scheme that will aim at better translating and commercialising university research outputs. Submissions Deadline: April 9, 2021.

International students employability
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) has launched the Enhancing employability: international students resource portal to help education providers assist international students in building their global employability by improving the delivery of employability programmes, promoting collaboration and sharing good practices. Online modules to prepare international students for work integrated learning experiences are also available.

Quality assurance
The recording of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) Quality Assurance Webinar Series titled Achieving self-accreditation is now online. Panellists discussed approaches to achieving self-accreditation and benefits.

Academic employment
Universities Australia estimates that at least 17,300 university jobs were cut in 2020 and AUS$1.8 billion in revenue lost compared to 2019 - a 4.9 per cent drop. A further 5.5 per cent loss is expected in 2021.

Academic freedom
The Report of the Independent Review of the Adoption of the Model Code on Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom has been released. It reviews policies; future steps to ensure ongoing alignment with the Model Code; and the role of university governing bodies.

-  Bhutan

The revised Institutional Accreditation Manual (IAM) 2020 was launched in December to support Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to examine their institutional vision, standards and performance and help them identify strategies to improve educational effectiveness.

The report State of Higher Education of Bhutan, released by the Ministry of Education features statistics on: higher Education Students (In-country and Ex-country); Self-Funding Students; students enrolled in STEM; students enrolled under Student Loan Scheme; Budget allocation for Higher Education Institutions; Status of Accreditation of Higher Education Institutions in Bhutan.

-  Canada

Covid 19 - Financial impact (Ontario)
Universities Ontario has made a call to the provincial government for recovery support since as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario’s universities have incurred more than $500 million in combined net costs and lost revenue.

Recordings from the Sustainable and Inclusive Internationalization Virtual Conference titled Reimagining Approaches in Higher Education in an Era of Global Uncertainties organized by IAU Member York University and the UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education Towards Sustainability (January 20-22) are online. Themes were: International mobility in practice; the greening of student and scholar exchange; Intercultural development, global and community engagement in mobility programmes; inclusive student exchanges and experiences; the use of technology and digital learning.

-  China

The 2020 Plenary Session of the Science and Technology Commission organized by the Ministry of Education in December mapped out the next steps for conducting research at HEIs in order to address the national strategic needs. Areas of action include: better strategic planning, basic research, breakthroughs in critical technologies, capacity building in service of the socio-economic development, reform and innovation in the institutions and mechanisms of scientific research, high-level sci-tech exchange and cooperation, integration of scientific and technological innovation with talent training, and security for science and technology.

Achievements in the opening up of China’s education sector were reviewed at a press conference held in December. Measures adopted aimed at improving high-level strategic planning, providing high quality education to students, deepening people-to-people and cultural exchange, promoting global education governance.

-  Colombia

The National Accreditation Council - CNA adjusted the timetable of the V Call for Regional Accreditation of Academic Programmes of MERCOSUR in the framework of ARCU-SUR due to the challenging situation that Higher Education Institutions are going through due to the impact of the health crisis. The new date is extended to 29 March 2021.

-  El Salvador

The University of El Salvador has decided to provide free and quality education to the Salvadoran people. The UES has named 2021 as the year of free education, bringing free education to the entire student community, exempting the payment of tuition and monthly fees.

The Vice Minister of Education, Ricardo Cardona Alvarenga, together with the authorities of the Technological University of El Salvador (UTEC) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), inaugurated the Recording, Multimedia and Training Laboratories for Virtual Education. This project was realised thanks to the coordination with the Cybernetics University of the Republic of Korea and with the financial support of KOICA, in order to build capacities in e-learning for Higher Education Institutions in the country.

-  France

On 14 February, Frédérique Vidal, French Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, announced plans to order the French research agency (CNRS) to conduct an enquiry into French university research focused on colonialism and race. On 16 February, the CPU (Conference des Présidents d’Universités), The French Rectors’ Association called for an “end to sterile polemics”, and stated that this action risks restricting free speech, highlighted as an essential component in healthy democratic societies.

-  Germany

German universities have voiced concern about their international students, both in terms of the financial and psychological problems they are facing during the COVID-19 crisis and declining first-year student numbers.

-  Honduras

The Ministry of Education has reported that it will seek to improve the mechanisms of care in the non-face to face education of students in the country. It also reported that the need has been raised for teachers to be vaccinated after attending to health personnel, in order to systematically open the educational centres.

-  Hong Kong

The University Grants Committee (UGC) and the Quality Assurance Council (QAC) will allocate additional funding of $165 million to support the eight UGC-funded universities in implementing various initiatives between 2021 and 2023 to promote the strategic development of virtual teaching and learning (VTL) in the medium to long run. These include: developing the governance framework, assessment methods, quality assurance system and professional best practices of VTL; enriching the overall educational experience of virtual learning; exploring new strategies, pedagogies, platforms and facilities in pursuit of longer-term visions on VTL.

-  India

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and EY India have released the Higher education in India: Vision 2040 Report that analyses how the pandemic, the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and changing student preferences have acted as a testbed for Education 4.0. It also focuses on assessing and understanding the aspects that are sustainable in the future through identification of global best practices, stakeholder opinions and the changing regulatory landscape.

The Global Risk Management Institute (GRMI) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) launched the research paper Disruption in the Higher Education sector – Managing Risks at the 16th FICCI Higher Education Summit on 25 February 2021. It examines the state of higher education in India and different aspects of disruptions and risk factors facing higher education institutions.

-  Ireland

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris has announced wide-ranging changes to the higher and further education entry system. The Central Applications Office (CAO) will be reformed incorporating apprenticeships and further education. Also among measures are plans to change the credit systems for courses, making it easier for students with a further education and training (FET) certificate to continue their education and earn a degree.

-  Japan

The Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) has released the Job Hunting Guide for International Students 2022. The guidebook provides international students with information on things to know regarding the preparation for job hunting, applications, job offers, and changes to status of residence.

-  Maldives

The Maldives Qualifications Authority (MQA) has issued the Covid-19 and aftermath: Guidance for Higher Education Providers on Standards and Quality providing HEIs with instructions to facilitate the continuation of teaching and learning while maintaining existing quality standards higher education. Principles for delivering higher education programmes, changes in assessment methods and the reopening of classrooms are addressed.

-  Mozambique

The report Mapping Research and Innovation in the Republic of Mozambique describes the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) landscape in Mozambique and identifies areas for strategic investment in STI in the country. It provides evidence and data for the revision of the national STI policy and strategy, as part of the country’s transition from a low-income country to a lower middle-income status. A list of key recommendations for STI policy development and STI investment is included.

-  Netherlands

Dutch universities structurally need 800 million euros per year, as well as a once off investment of 300 million euros, to get the level of education and research back to the desired level, according to a study by accountancy firm PwC for departing Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven.

-  Nicaragua

The Declaration of the Forum “Higher Education in Nicaragua 2020 and the Impact in times of Pandemic” that took place on 21, 22, 28 and 29 January 2021 is now available.

-  New Zealand

Education Counts has released theStudent Loan Scheme Annual Report 2020 to inform the Parliament and the New Zealand public about the performance of the Student Loan Scheme for the financial year 2019/20 in terms of participation and borrowing, repayment and cost.

-  Norway
Members of parliament have endorsed the strategic goal of ensuring that 50% of Norwegians have had a stay abroad upon graduation and that student exchanges are worked into all courses, with students having to opt out if they do not want to participate.

-  Singapore

The recording of the Straits Times Education Forum 2021 Webinar Reimagining Universities, Post-Covid held 5 February in partnership with the Singapore Management University (SMU) is online. It examined the ripple effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on higher education and the changes that it will forge. Topics addressed included the necessary transformation of universities in Singapore and the questions of costs and affordability of university education.

-  Spain

Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca presents its collection “La Universidad del siglo XXI” (The University in the 21st Century) with three books on the future of the university, the quality of education and a new conceptual model of knowledge transfer.

-  United Kingdom

Universities UK has published Building the global reputation and delivery of UK Transnational Online Higher Education. The report provides a summary of recommendations from a transnational education task and finish group set up in summer 2020. It examines the quality of UK degrees delivered through online and blended learning overseas, and explores how the sector can collaborate with other organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit spheres to innovate in this area.

UUK has also released UUK’s submission to the APPG for Students’ inquiry into ‘the impact of the pandemic on students’ tuition and accommodation’.

Students graduating from university in Scotland take on an average of three times less student debt than their counterparts in England.
The figures published by the Student Loans Company (SLC) reveal that graduates in Scotland on average leave university with £13,890 of debt from loans. Students in Wales have an average debt of £24,960 and students who were studying at English universities have to pay off an average of £40,280 in student loan debt.

-  United States

A survey by the American Council on Education of 348 college and university presidents looks at how universities have had to adapt and innovate many of their student services in order to continue to meet students’ needs during the pandemic. Presidents report that student mental health tops their most pressing concerns. “Mental health of faculty and staff” was the second most commonly selected pressing concern, followed by the “long-term financial viability of the institution.”

Return to top

IAU Lynx December Edition
IAU Lynx November Edition
IAU Lynx October Edition

IAU Lynx coordinator: Amanda Sudic
Collaborating team: Nicholas Poulton, Samuel Pousson, Carine Sebast and Lianne Guerra
Contact: [email protected]
© IAU 2021

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