International Association of Universities
Building a Worldwide Higher Education Community
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Strategic priorities

  • Technology in Higher Education

    Technology has an important impact in all aspects of higher education worldwide. It brings new opportunities and means for improving access and the quality of higher education. Yet, for various reasons the inclusion of how to use technology to improve higher education is uneven from region to region, country within a region, and institutions within a country. Thus, while recognizing and pursuing the important potential to bridge divides and to reduce inequalities in terms of access to knowledge and information, it is important to acknowledge that the risk of exacerbating existing or creating new inequalities is equally high as it requires means, necessary infrastructure and human skills to harness the potential of technology in higher education. The aim of the IAU’s action in this area is to pursue that the potential of technology is fully harnessed to improve the quality of higher education and to increase access to knowledge and education for all.


    Overall objectives for 2016-2020:

    • Advocate for equity and solidarity between and within higher education institutions in ICT matters;
    • Promote the design of inclusive ICT strategies in HEIs by encouraging and facilitating networking and cooperation between HEIs, international, and national bodies.


    A working group has been established by the IAU Administrative Board in order to develop activities and provide advice to the Administrative Board and the Secretary General on the strategic direction in this field. It will be in charge of establishing a drafting group for the revision of the IAU statement “Universities and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)” from 2004 with a view to review and revise the statement to the current context.

    Working Group:

    - Remus Pricopie, Rector, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania

    - Marta Losada Falk, President, Antonio Nariño University, Colombia
    - Pierre-André Pierre, Rector, Université Notre-Dame d’Haiti, Haiti
    - Daniel Hernandez Ruiperez, Former Rector, University of Salamanca, Spain

    IAU Secretariat
    Trine Jensen, Manager, Events and Projects

    If you are interested in getting involved in the work of IAU in this area and pilot specific activities, provide feedback on initiatives and to shape the work of the association in this area, please contact IAU, specifying your name, position, organization/institution and a few lines on your experience in this field.

    Trine Jensen


    As a global Association with members in all regions of the world, the IAU has a unique position to monitor trends around the world in order to favor exchange of best practices. The Association is currently developing a survey in to monitor the role of technology in higher education as a stocktaking exercise that will inform the revision of the statement “Universities and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)” from 2004.

    If you are interested in getting involved in the work of IAU in this area and pilot specific activities, provide feedback on initiatives and to shape the work of the association in this area, please contact IAU, specifying your name, position, organization/institution and a few lines on your experience in this field.

    Trine Jensen


    In 2019 IAU will launch a series of Institutional site visits. . The purpose of these visits is to create opportunities for exchanging among Members while meeting at a university that is very advanced in using digital technology to improve aspects of higher education. If you believe that your institution is a leader in this field and you wish to promote your institution and share your experience, consider hosting a site visit. Contact IAU to learn more.

    Trine Jensen

  • Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD)

    Future well-being of humanity and the planet depends on successful resolution of the interconnected challenges of economic, social, cultural, and environmental sustainability. For over three decades, the Association takes part in international and regional initiatives and organises events to promote the integration of sustainable development into higher education policies, strategies and work.


    IAU’s Strategic Plan and related actions in support of the 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT provides a framework for university leaders to develop inter institutional collaboration in pursuit of sustainable development. The aim is to assist higher education institution leaders, from our Members and Partners, wishing to embed sustainable development concepts and principles in strategic planning, academic and organizational work.

    Overall objectives for 2016-2020

    • Encourage peer-to-peer learning using IAU global network of higher education leaders
    • Monitor trends, develop and share expertise on the Sustainable Development Goals
    • Foster whole institution approaches at the leadership level to integrate sustainable development priorities
    • Provide leadership training, capacity building and networking services

    IAU pursue its goal trough an ABC Strategy:

    • Advocacy & Analyses
    • Building synergies & networking
    • Communicating & convening


    Since 1993, IAU advocates for the key role higher education plays in achieving sustainable development. It provides research and monitors trends in order to help higher education institutions worldwide implement HESD.


    >>> Mapping HESD worldwide – IAU HESD Global Portal
    The IAU HESD portal is a tool accessible to all, spotlighting IAU Members’ and Partners’ contributions to the sustainable development goals. The aim is to generate synergies and networking around the world in favour of sustainable development. The portal features more than 350 initiatives and counts some 1000 monthly visitors.

    >>> Researching HESD trends – IAU HESD global survey 2016
    In 2016, the IAU launched its first global survey on the role of higher education in fostering sustainable development. The aim was to analyse IAU Members’ approaches to sustainable development. 120 institutions from all continents took part in the survey.

    >>> Publications
    - Higher Education Paving the Way to Sustainable Development: A Global perspective, 2017
    - The Role of Higher Education in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, 18 experts worldwide shared their views in IAU Horizons, 2014
    - The Contribution of Higher Education to Sustainable Development, 26 experts worldwide shared their views in IAU Horizons, 2012


    >>> IAU Policy Statements on HESD

    >>> Letter from the President of the United Nations General Assembly (2017)
    H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, Former President of the United Nations General Assembly, reached out to the IAU to call on all leaders of higher education institutions to embrace the sustainable development goals. The Association disseminated the UN letter to all IAU Members and Partners worldwide.

    >>> Open Letter to COP21 Ministers and Governments (2015)
    On 1 December 2015, a global alliance of higher education sustainability networks, including the IAU, representing more than 3,000 universities and colleges worldwide, jointly issued an Open Letter urging Ministers and Governments to acknowledge and strengthen the research and education role that universities and colleges play in addressing climate change.

    >>> Rio+20 People’s Sustainability Treaty on Higher Education (2012)
    A partnership of over 30 agencies, organizations and associations, led by Copernicus Alliance and the IAU, developed the Higher Education People’s Sustainability Treaty to influence Rio + 20 dialogues.


    To enhance international cooperation in HESD, IAU cooperates with various key partners and sits on several committees.


    The Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) seeks to generate and scale-up ESD and to accelerate progress towards sustainable development. The Partner Networks, consisting of 90 major ESD stakeholders, drive implementation of the GAP. IAU is one of the key partners (Action Area 2: Transforming Learning and Training Environments).

    COPERNICUS Alliance

    In September 2016, IAU and COPERNICUS Alliance, a European network of higher education institutions promoting transformational learning and change for sustainable development, signed a partnership agreement to jointly foster HESD.


    Dr Hilligje van‘t Land, IAU Secretary General, is Member of the Administrative Board of UVED (Université Virtuelle Environnement et Développement Durable) in France where she contributes to the development of the UVED Foundation and the creation of a francophone MOOC dedicated to the sustainable development goals.


    IAU is a Member of the SULITEST Administrative Board and contributes to the development and awareness raising of this test tool and overall project.

    Green Gown Awards

    IAU took part in the 2016 jury of the French-speaking edition of the Green Gown Awards Les Trophées des Campus Responsables that recognizes exceptional higher education sustainability initiatives. IAU also took part in the 2016 jury of the International Green Gown Awards.

    HEIRRI Project

    The HEIRRI (Higher Education Institutions and Responsible Research and Innovation) project aims at starting the integration of responsible research and innovation within the formal and informal education of future scientists and engineers. The IAU is member of the science communication & internationalization advisory board and works on disseminating the project results. Discover the resources developed by HEIRRI.



    Every year the IAU Board meets to review progress made on IAU activities and to provide expert advice on the future developments of the Association. On that occasion, the IAU Working Group on HESD meets and works on initiatives developed to foster education and research for sustainable development.


    Each year the Association organizes an international Conference. HESD always forms part of the topics addressed. At times, the conference is devoted to fostering debate on specific topics relating to HESD.

    - IAU 15th General Conference (November 2016, Bangkok, Thailand)
    The programme was dedicated to Higher Education: A catalyst for innovative and sustainable societies.
    - IAU 2014 International Conference (March 2014, Iquitos, Peru). The theme was Blending Higher Education and Traditional Knowledge for Sustainable Development.


    Learn more about IAU representation at external events.

  • Internationalization

    Internationalization of higher education is an inevitable process in the era of globalization and a deliberate strategy for improving quality and relevance. IAU focuses on the academic rationales, the equitable and collaborative nature of the process and aims to minimize the adverse effects of international interactions when these take place in highly unequal and diverse contexts among HEIs with different, resources, needs and interests.


    IAU aims at retaining a leadership role in HE Internationalization which focuses on quality of learning, research and outreach for all.

    Overall objectives for 2016-2020:

    • Provide critical analysis of current trends
    • Research on global developments
    • Increase tailored advisory services
    • Expand IAU expertise in benchmarking and impact assessment
    • Provide information and develop global advocacy



    Over the years, the concept of internationalization has evolved and different definitions exist, IAU adopts the following: “[Internationalization of Higher Education is] the intentional process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions and delivery of post-secondary education, in order to enhance the quality of education and research for all students and staff, and to make a meaningful contribution to society.“ (De Wit, H., Hunter F., Howard L., Egron-Polak E. (Eds.) (2015) “Internationalization of Higher Education”, European Parliament, Brussels: EU).

    This recently refined definition emphasizes the fact that internationalization is an intentional process, not a passive experience. It underscores that internationalization is not a goal in itself, but a means of enhancing quality and excellence of higher education and research. In addition, the definition notes that internationalization needs to serve societal needs, rather than focusing solely on economic rationales and returns. Although globalization affects all institutions, HEIs experience different pressures; they exist in different contexts, and have different needs. Therefore, there is no “one size fits all” model or approach for internationalization, rather, each HEI must find its own way of internationalizing. At the same time, all HEIs can benefit from the best thinking and good practice from other institutions around the world. This is why IAU developed the internationalization strategies advisory service: ISAS (2.0).


    Launched in 2016, ISAS (2.0) builds on the former IAU ISAS program, created to help HEIs develop or review their internationalization policies, strategies and programs. ISAS (2.0) consists of several different but complementary services designed for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), individuals at HEIs, national governments andorganizations.

    It consists of three services:
    - Advancing strategic internationalization at HEIs (for HEIs)
    - Facilitating individual learning for internationalization for HEIs and individuals working at HEIs. (for HEIs and individuals at HEIs)
    - National advisory service for strategy or policy development for HE internationalization (for national governments, agencies and organizations)

    ISAS (2.0) promotional leaflet

    List of past and ongoing ISAS 2.0 projects

    Giorgio Marinoni

    There are 4 strands of service designed specifically for HEIs.. The duration of each strand of service depends on the specific needs of the HEIs but typically is between 6 and 12 months. Each strand culminates with the award of an IAU internationalization learning badge. Institutions awarded an IAU internationalization learning badge must follow the guidelines for use.

    Planning and Strategy

    Target audience
    Higher Education Institutions at early development stage of internationalization

    Help the institution develop and/or refine its internationalization strategy.


    • Mapping and reviewing internationalization policies and actions at the institution
    • Developing or revising the internationalization strategy
    • IAU Learning Badge rewarded: Planning and Strategy

    Detailed procedure


    HEI Low income country Middle income country High income country
    IAU member 18 000 euros 20 000 euros 22 000 euros
    Non-IAU member 20 000 euros 23 000 euros 25 000 euros

    Assessing Strategy and Monitoring Achievements

    Target audience
    HEIs having an already implemented internationalization strategy

    Help the institution assess its strategy for internationalization and their monitoring achievements and progress towards the goals outlined in its internationalization strategy.


    • Evaluating the institutional strategy and reviewing of monitoring framework
    • Monitoring progress
    • IAU Learning Badge rewarded : Strategy Monitoring and Achievements

    Detailed procedure


    HEI Low income country Middle income country High income country
    IAU member 18 000 euros 20 000 euros 22 000 euros
    Non-IAU member 20 000 euros 23 000 euros 25 000 euros

    Enhancing a specific area of internationalization

    Target audience
    Higher Education Institutions interested in a specific area of internationalization

    Enabling institutions to focus on a particular area of internationalization requiring special enhancing and monitoring efforts including:
    - Governance and management structures for internationalization;
    - Internationalization at home;
    - Internationalization of research;
    - Internationalization of the curriculum;
    - Language policy;
    - Strategic partnerships;
    - Academic and non-academic staff mobility;
    - Student mobility;
    - Transnational/cross border education;
    - On-line and distance learning.


    • Reviewing fitness of purpose of specific goals and objectives for the area of focus within the overall institutional context
    • Assessing the implementation strategies adopted and pursued to achieve objectives
    • Providing recommendations for developing new activities in the specific area
    • Reviewing and/or developing indicators for evaluating progress
    • Evaluating achievement
    • IAU Learning Badges rewarded: Governance or Internationalization at home or Curriculum, Language policy, Strategic partnership, Staff mobility, Student mobility, Distance learning, Research

    Detailed procedure


    HEI Low income country Middle income country High income country
    IAU member 10 000 euros 12 000 euros 14 000 euros
    Non-IAU member 12 000 euros 14 000 euros 16 000 euros

    Achieving comprehensive internationalisation

    Comprehensive Internationalization is increasingly the goal of many institutions that have emphasized internationalization for some time and have devoted particular attention and resources to developing a comprehensive approach within their institution.
    This strand of service is highly selective, not all institutions that would wish to choose this strand might be ready for it.

    Target audience
    Higher Education Institutions at advanced development stage of internationalization

    Assess to what extent the HEI is achieving Comprehensive Internationalization


    • Submission of an application by the institution
    • IAU submission evaluation: decision on acceptance or suggestion to undertake another strand of service of ISAS (2.0)
    • Asses to what extent the HEI is achieving Comprehensive Internationalization, that is, looking at the extent to which internationalization is pervasive throughout the institution.
    • IAU Learning Badge rewarded: Comprehensive Internationalization

    Detailed procedure


    HEI Low income country Middle income country High income country
    IAU member 22 000 euros 24 000 euros 26 000 euros
    Non-IAU member 28 000 euros 30 000 euros 32 000 euros

    One of the major institutional obstacles to internationalization is the limited expertise of academic and administrative staff working at HEIs. IAU has therefore developed this service, intended for individuals and groups of individuals at one or more HEIs wishing to improve their knowledge, skills and competences related to strategic planning and monitoring of internationalization of higher education. It consists of two main strands of service:

    Training workshops for professional development of senior academic and administrative staff

    Target audience
    Higher Education Institutions (or groups of HEIs)
    Enhance staff development to allow them to gain expertise in internationalization process.

    Duration: 2-3 days


    • Request for workshop by an HEI, National rectors’ conferences, national university associations or networks.
    • Tailored-made peer-to-peer workshop by IAU
    • IAU charges to the host institution an all-inclusive fee for the workshop design.
    • Host institution is responsible for the logistics related costs and can charge fees to workshop participants, which must be agreed upon by IAU

    Detailed procedure

    Fees will be negotiated with the host institution on a case-by-case basis.

    Webinars on specific topics on internationalization for academic and administrative staff

    Target audience
    Individuals at HEIs
    To expand the range of learning opportunities available to individuals, and to offer to all individuals at HEIs the opportunity to access its programs.

    IAU organizes webinars on various specific topics related to internationalization. Webinars can draw experts from all over the world and on specific topics of internationalization.

    Detailed procedure

    IAU Member: free
    Non-IAU member: 150 Euro

    Higher education has become a high-level priority for more and more national governments, some of which have adopted national strategies for internationalization or plan to develop one. IAU has gained significant experience in helping national governments and organizations in the development of national strategies and policies for internationalization (e.g Romania, Malaysia).

    Tailored approach at national level

    Target audience
    National governments, governmental agencies and organizations

    Provide international expertise to assist the government (or governmental organization) in developing a proposal for a national strategy

    The approach is tailored to the specific needs of the country. It can focus exclusively on the national policy level, with IAU providing international experts to assist the government or governmental organization in developing a proposal for a national strategy.

    Detailed procedure

    Fees are agreed upon on a case by case basis

    ’Bottom-up’ approach

    Target audience
    National governments, governmental agencies and organizations

    Provide international expertise to assist the government (or governmental organization) in developing a proposal for a national strategy

    The process of designing or revising a national policy can also involve working ’bottom-up’, meaning working at the same time at governmental and institutional levels. It consists in assisting a group of HEIs in revising and developing their institutional internationalization strategies while helping the government or governmental organization developing a proposal for a national strategy. This simultaneous process ensure that national policy recommendations are based on a understanding of HEIs needs and visions.

    Detailed procedure

    Fees are agreed upon on a case by as basis.


    Since 2003, IAU has conducted Global Surveys on Internationalization of Higher Education. Each IAU global survey report provides a unique analysis of global and regional level data on trends and developments in the field of international higher education and related policymaking. The Global Survey reports have become a invaluable resource for anyone working on or interested in internationalization of higher education.

    >>> 5th edition of the global survey
    An Advisory Committee of 21 international internationalization experts assists IAU in the elaboration of the 5th edition of the Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education. The Committee redesigned the questionnaire to collect most relevant data from higher education institutions. IAU has launched its 5th Global Survey.

    Learn more and take part

    Sponsoring partners of the 5th edition of the Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education:

    >>> Former editions of the global survey
    - 4th Global Survey (2014) - IAU 4th Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education.
    Executive Summary
    - IAU 3rd Global Survey (2010) - Internationalization of Higher Education: Global Trends, Regional Perspectives
    Executive Summary
    - IAU 2nd Global Survey (2005) - Internationalization of Higher Education - New Directions, New Challenges.
    Highlights of findings
    - IAU 1st Global Survey (2003) - Internationalization of Higher Education: Practices and Priorities
    Highlights of findings

    Giorgio Marinoni


    IAU has developed advocacy positions on internationalization of higher education:

    This Working Group encompasses a small group of Administrative Board members. It provides advice to the Administrative Board and the Secretary General on the strategic direction. The Working Group develops recommendations on how to improve the visibility and response rate and dissemination of the IAU Global Survey. The Working Group also provides recommendations on how to operationalize the Call for Action: Affirming Academic Values in Internationalization of Higher Education. Finally, it assists in the promotion of the IAU Internationalization Strategies Advisory Service (ISAS (2.0)).


    • Andrew Deeks, President, University College Dublin, Ireland


    IAU Secretariat Staff:

    Giorgio Marinoni

  • Leadership

    Leadership is a core aspect of quality higher education, vital in enabling institutions to respond to complex challenges and rapid societal change. Higher education leadership must be underpinned by values and responsibility. Leadership must be adaptable and constantly evolving to ensure always more equity. It is essential that higher education institutions fully contribute to the development of sustainable & democratic societies.


    IAU aims at strengthening capacities of leaders and enhance cooperation among them. It also tends to reinforce leadership of universities to maximize their impact on communities.

    Overall objectives for 2016-2020:

    • Facilitate Peer-to-Peer Learning
    • Provide professional development
    • Monitor trends in leadership challenges



    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 IAU has developed a leadership programme entitled: Leading Globally Engaged Universities (LGEU).

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

    • Recently appointed Rectors/Vice Chancellors/Presidents
    • Deputy/Pro Vice Chancellors/ Vice Provosts /Vice Presidents/Vice Rectors
    • Senior International Relations Officers 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.

    Participants will gain:

    • Insights from leaders from other universities in all regions of the world that will inform the strategic developments in their institution;
    • data 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.
    • Being part of a unique international network of colleagues. LGEU will act as a catalyst for the establishment of partnerships and longer-term collaborations between participants and their respective institutions.
    • LGEU graduates will bring back approaches from other contexts that can be adapted and implemented at home.
    • Institutions will gain from the rich bank of resources made available.

      >> LEAFLET


    13-18 MAY 2018
    McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
    Registrations are now closed.

    14-19 OCTOBER 2018
    National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania
    The deadline for applications is 1 September 2018.

    >> SIGN UP


    Registration Fees:
    Fees include programme delivery and material, accommodation and meals but exclude travel costs.

    • IAU Member: 3,200 € (Euro)
    • Non Member: 6,000 € (Euro)

    Applicants from developing countries may apply for financial support. Sponsorships are limited and IAU considers applications on a case-by-case basis.

    Each session is limited to 15-20 participants.

    >> SIGN UP


    NOVEMBER 2015 / LGEU-1:
    University Malaya (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

    APRIL 2016 / LGEU-2:
    University College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland)

    DECEMBER 2016 / LGEU-3:
    Universidad EAFIT, (Medellin, Colombia)

    MAY 2017 / LGEU-4
    University of Botswana, (Gaborone, Botswana)

    Juliette Becker


    >> SIGN UP



    IAU was commissioned by the World Bank to undertake a mapping of professional development training programme available around the world for higher education leaders at different levels of the institution. IAU has created an online directory. Based on the mapping findings, IAU has conducted a gap analysis.

    >>> Mapping of higher education leadership programs worldwide
    Depending on the national or regional context, the number of higher education institutions is growing, the nature of the institutions is diversifying, their role in society is continuously questioned and the demands placed on these institutions is expanding. It is thus not surprising that the leadership of such institutions becomes more complex and that the development of leadership capacity becomes a priority.
    In response to these complex realities, there is a growing number of training programs offered to strengthen higher education leadership. Yet, there is no single source of information about what is on offer, nor have there been many studies to look at the impact of such trainings. IAU, itself offering a leadership program since 2015, produced an initial mapping of programs. The aim is to identify and briefly describe programs on offer and discover gaps in terms of geographic coverage, type of program offered, who is being targeted, etc. IAU has issued an analytical report presenting the rationale, methodology and results of the study.

    >>> Online searchable directory of programs
    The list of all 78 identified programs is available in a directory in a format of a searchable excel file, which allows sorting the programs according to 6 topics as follows:
    - Target audience
    - Duration
    - Delivery mode
    - Location
    - Tuition fee
    - Credential

    Leadership Programmes Directory

    Juliette Becker

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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