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Strategic priorities

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  • Digital transformation of Higher Education

    The digital transformation of society is inevitably reshaping the higher education sector and it impacts the way HEIs operate at all levels, from governance to teaching and learning, from the content of curricula to knowledge production and research activities. This constitutes an important transformation of higher education that comes both with new opportunities as well as challenges. It is an ongoing process that higher education institutions are reacting to, interacting with, shaping to remain relevant and to adapt to increasingly digitalised societies.

    IAU Strategy (2022-2030):

    The IAU Strategy 2030 includes the following strategic objectives to guide the work of the Association in this area:

    1. Bridging digital divides through knowledge sharing and building global intelligence to enhance quality of and access to higher education
    2. Opening up knowledge for humanity
    3. Fostering innovations in teaching and learning in an increasingly digital world


    The IAU activities in this field are organized around the following core functions:

    Global advocacy

    Digital transformation is one of the four key priorities in its Strategic Plan.

    More information

    Monitoring transformations

    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 favour exchange of best practices. In end of 2018 and beginning of 2019 the IAU conducted an Open Consultation to monitor the current state of digital transformation within higher education institutions (HEI). This stocktaking exercise also served to the development of the new Policy Statement which will be submitted to the 16th IAU General Conference for adoption. The consultation led to a report entitled: Higher Education in the Digital Era: The current state of transformation around the world which was released in January 2020 a few months prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, IAU has been monitoring transformations through it Global Surveys on the Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Higher Education.

    More information

    Catalyst for collaboration and exchange

    IAU plays an important role as a catalyst for collaboration and exchange. In the field of digital transformation and higher education, IAU seeks to pursue this mission through a series of different activities.

    IAU and UOC (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) have partnered to develop a series of 6 chapters to explore some of the changes we are currently observing in higher education under the title: Innovative Education for Unshaped Futures (IE4UF).

    Learn more

    The IDOCOS project
    to leverage the opportunity of the accelerated pace of digital transformation during the Covid-19 pandemic by proposing an innovative approach to co-creation and sharing of doctoral courses among universities in different countries.

    Learn more

    IAU launched a new programme in 2019 which is the institutional site visits where higher education institutions that are very innovative or advanced in using technology in higher education in order to improve the quality or to widening access to higher education, invite IAU Members to attend a 2-day meeting to learn from their experiences. The first programme took place at UOC in Barcelona.

    Learn more

    Interested in receiving tailored updates and initiatives on HE and Digital Transformation?

    Subscribe to IAU’s dedicated list

    Trine Jensen


    IAU Policy Statement

    In the context of the rapid development of digital technologies, which affects society and higher education, IAU has developed a IAU Policy Statement 2022 to outline the key principles and values that must underpin the digital transformation. This policy statement serves as the framework for the Association’s actions in this field for the period 2022-2030.

    Expert Advisory Group

    The development of the IAU Policy Statement was steered by an Expert Advisory Group (EAG) composed of experts from different regions of the world as well as representatives of the IAU Administrative Board. It was also opened for a Membership consultation and student Associations were invited to provide their feedback and comments.



    In 2019, IAU launched the Institutional Site Visits programme. The purpose of this programme is to create opportunities for exchange among Members while meeting at a university with an advanced approach to using digital innovations to improve higher education. Members are invited to participate in these site visits to learn from experiences at the host university and to connect with peers from around the world. The aim of the programme is to foster sharing of knowledge and experience among Members and to allow participants to acquire new insights on how to leverage the digital transformation in higher education.

    The institutional site visits are held once a year.

    Upcoming IAU Open Science Institutional Site Visit to Utrecht University
    The upcoming Institutional Site Visit will be hosted by Utrecht University in the Netherlands from 3 – 4 April 2024. The University is pleased to welcome IAU Members to learn from the extensive experience of the institution in its transition to Open Science.

    Open Science is a movement which encourages collaborative and public research in which findings are shared at the earliest stage possible. The purpose of Open Science is to foster more transparent, collaborative, and inclusive scientific practices to make new knowledge more accessible and verifiable, to ensure more equitable access to science and knowledge, and to enhance international research collaboration.

    The Netherlands has long been at the forefront of promoting Open Science, a commitment reflected first in the Amsterdam Call for Open Science in 2016 and in various subsequent policies. The adoption of Open Science throughout Dutch research centres and institutions encourages transparency, collaboration, and accessibility in research, aiming to make scientific knowledge freely available to all.

    Appreciating the nation-wide adoption of Open Science policies, Utrecht University has enthusiastically welcomed the notion of Open Science. Since 2017, the University has embraced the Open Science transition in order to “accelerate and improve the realisation of research results and their societal impact.” It has implemented various initiatives to foster Open Science practices among its faculty, academics, and students, and it emphasises open access publishing, data sharing, and collaborative research and education projects, thus aligning the university with the strategy of the Dutch government to promote innovation and accelerate scientific progress through the principles of Open Science. The University thus may be seen as a prime example and source of inspiration for how higher education institutions around the world may too embrace the principles of Open Science.

    The IAU Institutional Site Visit will provide insights on the inspiring practices and lessons learned from the institution during the transformation to Open Science. This site visit intends to inspire senior leadership in charge of research and teaching and learning to gain knowledge about how to lead transformations that embrace Open Science.

    Session topics will include: Open Science Policy, Public Engagement and Stakeholder Engagement, Open Science in the Faculty, Open Education and Open Educational Resources, and FAIR Data & Software, amongst others. More programme details will soon be announced.

    Key Details:
    - Goal: The focus of this institutional site visit will be to show how universities can contribute to the implementation of the principles of Open Science.
    - When: 3-4 April 2023
    - Where: Utrecht University, The Netherlands
    - Opening Speech: Henk Kummeling, Rector of Utrecht University and IAU Board Member
    - Fees: 250 euro for IAU Members; 400 euro for Non IAU Members


    The first IAU Site Visit was hosted by Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) - the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) – which is the first fully online university worldwide. UOC welcomed 24 IAU Member representatives from 16 countries to Barcelona on 27-28 March in order to share their experience about online learning, the pedagogical and management model and its educational model based on personalization and accompanying students using e-learning.

    - When?: 27-28 March 2019
    - Where?: Barcelona, Spain
    - Watch a video from the Site Visit: click here
    - See the Agenda: click here

    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.

    Interested in receiving tailored updates and initiatives on Technology and Higher Education?

    Subscribe to IAU’s dedicated list

    Trine Jensen


    IAU Expert Group on Open Science

    The recent IAU Policy Statement: Transforming Higher Education in a Digital World for the Global Common Good recognizes the principles laid out in the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in 2021. The latter constitutes a normative and legal instrument adopted by the UNESCO Member States and encourages its implementation - in conformity with the constitutional practice of each State - and it thus serves to influence the development of national laws and practices. The IAU Policy Statement calls for universities to play an important role to shape the implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science across the different countries of the world.

    Against this backdrop, the International Association of Universities (IAU) is convening an international Expert Group on Open Science to bring together expertise and knowledge from all regions of the world to discuss and share experiences about how universities can contribute to the implementation of the norms and principles laid out in the UNESCO Recommendation.

    The IAU recognizes the following definition of Open Science laid out in the UNESCO Recommendation:

    Open science is defined as “an inclusive construct that combines various movements and practices aiming to make multilingual scientific knowledge openly available, accessible and reusable for everyone, to increase scientific collaborations and sharing of information for the benefits of science and society, and to open the processes of scientific knowledge creation, evaluation and communication to societal actors beyond the traditional scientific community. It comprises all scientific disciplines and aspects of scholarly practices, including basic and applied sciences, natural and social sciences and the humanities, and it builds on the following key pillars: open scientific knowledge, open science infrastructures, science communication, open engagement of societal actors and open dialogue with other knowledge systems.”

    There are numerous benefits to Open Science, most importantly democratizing access to knowledge. Science constitutes an essential pillar of society for examining, analyzing, and understanding world phenomena, developing new knowledge and insights, and exploring opportunities for addressing the challenges of today. Since most of the pressing societal challenges of today - environmental, social, and economic - are interconnected, they cannot be solved at the national or local level alone. Therefore, the purpose of Open Science is to foster more transparent, collaborative, and inclusive scientific practices to make new knowledge more accessible and verifiable; to ensure more equitable access to science and knowledge, and to enhance international research collaboration.

    The Expert Group on Open Science will be tasked to develop recommendations on potential actions that can support institutions in the complex transition, share best practices and experiences, and to identify what type of research, evidence and data collection can serve universities in their transition towards Open Science.

    The purpose of the Expert Group is to provide policy advice for the leadership of universities, based on the following objectives:

    - Make Open science an institutional priority and invest in Open Science initiatives that support organizational change. For example, revising policies to include incentives for open research and data.
    - Build capacities and awareness about Open Science and to address issues of concern such as legal and ethical aspects around privacy, intellectual property and open licenses.
    - Contribute to connecting and building infrastructure to support Open Science practices and make use of or develop repositories for information and data sharing.
    - Participate in international research collaboration to build standardization that will facilitate data sharing and management practices both nationally, regionally and globally.
    - Build trust in science by engaging in science communication and collaboration beyond the traditional scientific community.
    - Identify the key challenges that hamper the transition towards open science such as predatory scientific practices that erodes the ideals of Open Science.

    The Expert Group is comprised of the following members:

    Peter Aronsson, Vice-Chancellor, Linnaeus University, Sweden

    Noorsaadah Abd. Rahman, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Universiti Malay, Malaysia

    Batool Almarzouq, Bioinformatician and computational biologist affiliated with the Alan Turing Institute (UK) and Open Science Community Saudi Arabia (OSCSA)

    Paola Andrea, Librarian, Independent Consultant, Colombia

    Tina Baich, Senior Associate Dean for Scholarly Communication and Content Strategies for the University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, United States of America

    Claudia Bauzer Medeiros, Professor, UNICAMP, Brazil

    Ahmed C Bawa, Professor of Higher Education, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

    Fernanda Beigel, Principal Researcher at CONICET, Head Professor, National University of Cuyo, Argentina

    Geoffrey Boulton, Professor of Geology Emeritus, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

    Saray Córdoba González, bio, Retired Professor, Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica

    Elena Denisova-Schmidt, Privatdozentin / Research Fellow, University of St.Gallen (HSG) and CIHE Boston College, Switzerland and USA

    Su Nee Goh, Deputy Director and Lead for Open Science and Research Services, Office of Information, Knowledge and Library Services, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

    Carolina Guzman-Valenzuela, Professor of Higher Education, Universidad de Tarapaca, Chile

    Aldrie Henry-Lee, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Graduate Studies & Research, University of the West Indies, Jamaica

    Matyas Hirman, Data Steward and Open Science Support, Charles University, Czech Republic

    Alina Irimia, Open Science expert, UNESCO Chair on Science and Innovation Policies, The National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA) and UEFISCDI, Romania

    Pattarachai Kiratisin, Vice President for Research, Mahidol University, Thailand

    Moumita Koley, Visiting Scholar, Indian Institute of Science, India

    Ahmed Legrouri, Adjunct Professor, International University of Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire

    Erivelton Nepomuceno, Assistant Professor, Maynooth University, Ireland

    Takashi Okada, Vice President for Academic Research Affairs, Sophia University, Japan

    Sinéad Ryan, Dean and Vice President for Research, Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Ireland

    Andrea Vargiu, Professor, University of Sassari, Italy

    Ricardo Villegas-Tovar, Director of the International Center for International Education, BUAP, Mexico

    Interested in receiving tailored updates and initiatives on HE & Digital Transformation?

    Subscribe to IAU’s dedicated list

    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 favour exchange of best practices.

    Second Global Survey on the State of Digital Transformation of Higher Education

    After several years of rapid digital transformation particularly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the IAU is pleased to announce that we are preparing the second Global Survey on Digital Transformation of Higher Education. The first global survey on digital transformation was launched in 2019 and it led to the report: Higher Education in the Digital Era: The current state of transformation around the world (January 2020). This report constitutes an important source of information about the state of digital transformation prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    This survey will take stock of the current state of digital transformation in higher education to monitor developments and identify key achievements as well as challenges. For the preparation of the global survey, it is essential that we work with experts from different regions of the world to ensure a sound design of the questionnaire and that it is resonating with all regions of the world.

    The following individuals will serve as part of the survey’s Expert Advisory Committee:

    Sian Bayne, Professor of Digital Education, University of Edinbourgh, Scotland

    Ainuddin Wahid Bin Abdul Wahab, Deputy Dean of Research, University of Malaya, Malaysia

    Neil Butcher, Expert on OERs and Director, Neil Butcher & Associates, South Africa

    Mathieu Denis, Senior Director, and Head of the new Centre for Science Futures, International Science Council

    Liz Johnson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic & Alfred Deakin Professor, Deakin University, Australia

    Dale Johnson, Director, University Design Institute, Arizona State University (ASU), USA

    Simon-Peter Kafui Aheto, "Coordinator for the International Programmes at the College of Education, Senior Lecturer of Education and Information Technology, Department of Distance Education, School of Continuing & Distance Education," University of Ghana, Ghana

    Marcelo Knobel, IAU Senior Fellow and Former President, UNICAMP, Brazil

    Marcelo Milrad, Professor and Manager for the Knowledge Environment Digital Transformations, Linnaeus University, Sweden

    Ilse Yuridia Muñoz, PhD Candidate and Lecturer, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico

    Rajani Naidoo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (People and Culture), University of Exeter, United Kingdom

    Raphael Ondeko Nyonje, Associate Professor, Open Learning Programmes, University of Nairobi, Kenya

    Kate Thompson, Associate Professor and leader of the Digital Learning for Change Research Group in the Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

    Frank Tsiwah, Assistant Professor and AI specialist, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

    Wondwosen Tamrat, President, St Mary’s University, Ethiopia

    Global Survey Report on the State of Digital Transformation of Higher Education

    IAU conducted its first Global Survey in the area of digital transformation from 1 November 2018 to 1 April 2019. The results of the survey was launched in the IAU Report: Higher Education in the Digital Era: The current state of transformation around the world in January 2020 just prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    An expert group will be set up for the development of the 2nd Global Survey Report in 2023 and the data collection is foreseen in 2024.

    Higher Education in the Digital Era: The current state of transformation around the world - 1st IAU Global Survey Report (January 2020)

    IAU is pleased to present this first stock-taking exercise in the field, and to contribute to discussing the current state of transformation, the risk of inequalities, the ethical implications and how to jointly leverage the potential of technological developments for a sustainable future.

    Download the report

    Global Survey Report related to the the impact of the pandemic on higher education and the accelerated digital transformation

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, IAU has been conducting Global Surveys to monitor the impact of the pandemic on higher education. These include perspectives on digital transformation which have clearly changed compared to prior to the pandemic. The first Report was launched in May 2020 only months into the pandemic and the second Report in March 2022 based on data collected in 2021.

    The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education around the World - 1st IAU Global Survey (May 2020)

    Almost all responding HEIs declared that they have been impacted one way or another by the COVID-19 crisis. The report presents a general assessment of the situation in universities globally and explores different aspects of the impact of COVID-19, such as: teaching & learning, research, community engagement and other key challenges and opportunities.

    Download the report

    Higher Education One Year into the COVID-19 Pandemic - 2nd IAU Global Survey (March 2022)

    In 2021, the IAU conducted the Second Global Survey to monitor the impact of the pandemic on higher education. The Survey Report offers a comprehensive picture of how higher education institutions have been affected by the difficult conditions under which they were operating during the pandemic. The report covers a broad institutional perspective, looking at governance, teaching and learning, research and community/societal engagement. 496 higher education institutions from 112 countries and territories responded to the survey. The report presents the results at the global level as well as by region. It also compares trends among public and private higher education institutions. It uncovers worrisome tendencies both in terms of funding and research, but it also reveals several transformations and opportunities that may have positive effects beyond the pandemic.

    Download the report

    Interested in receiving tailored updates and initiatives on HE & Digital Transformation?

    Subscribe to IAU’s dedicated list

    Trine Jensen


    IAU-UOC PUBLICATION: Improving Online Teaching: Practical Guide for Quality Online Education

    In complement to the IAU-UOC Innovative Education for Unshaped Futures (IE4UF) Series, IAU is happy to announce the publication of Improving Online Teaching: Practical Guide for Quality Online Education. After two years of pandemic related educational disruption, the need for strong and sustainable digital solutions for higher education is critically clear. The IAU-UOC collaboration to study the effects of and necessary solutions for online higher education learning has culminated in the publication of this text. 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 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation of higher education. After a year of adapting to the sudden disruption of higher education and pivoting operations to increasingly rely on digital technologies in higher education, the new constant is uncertainty and a need for resilience to respond to fast changing environment. Within this context, the International Association of Universities (IAU) and UOC (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) have partnered in 2021 to develop a series to explore some of the changes we are currently observing in higher education under the title Innovative Education for Unshaped Futures (IE4UF). The series is divided into 6 chapters exploring different levels of change and moving from broader topics to more specific areas in the second part of the series. Each chapter includes perspectives from an online and a campus-based university. The recordings are available below.

    Trine Jensen


    CHAPTER I: Return to Campus: Making sense of (innovative) hybrid teaching and learning | Thursday, 10 June 2021

    This first session in the series includes opening words from the leadership of the two partner organisations to officially kick off the series, followed by a discussion on the changes and innovations in teaching and learning. At Deakin University, students had access to both online and physical campus prior to the pandemic. Learn more about the current trends and developments as well as their vision for blended and hybrid modes of learning moving forward. UOC University, on the other hand, has 25 years of experience in fully online learning and shares experiences about leveraging the potential of this method. The last part of the session is dedicated to questions from the audience.

    - Speakers:

    • Albert Sangrà, UNESCO Chair in Education & Technology for Social Change, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain
    • Liz Johnson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Education, Deakin University, Australia.

    - Moderator:

    • Trine Jensen, Manager, HE & Digital Transformation, International Association of Universities (IAU)

    CHAPTER II: Assessment practices in hybrid and online HE scenarios | Tuesday, 22 June 2021

    - Speakers:

    • Nati Cabrera, Professor and Director, Master Programme in Quality Evaluation and Management in Higher Education, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain.
    • Henrik Hansson, ICT - Culture - Flexible Learning - Sustainable Development, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, Sweden.

    - Moderator:

    • Albert Sangrà, UNESCO Chair in Education & Technology for Social Change, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain.

    CHAPTER III: Leadership for Digital Education: Shortcuts and pitfalls | Thursday, 1 July 2021

    - Speakers:

    - Moderator:

    • Deborah Arnold, AUNEGe, Digital University for Management and Economics, France.

    CHAPTER IV: Designing Quality (Online) Learning | Thursday, 16 September 2021

    - Speakers:

    • Sian Bayne, Professor of Digital Education, University of Edinburgh; Director, Centre for Research in Digital Education, Edinburgh Futures Institute, Scotland, UK.
    • Marcelo Maina, Professor and Director Master Programme in Education and ICT (e-learning), Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain.

    - Moderator:

    • Trine Jensen, Manager, HE & Digital Transformation, International Association of Universities (IAU).

    CHAPTER V : Interaction and collaboration: being social in digital environments | Thursday, 30 September 2021

    - Speakers:

    • Shanali Govender, Academic Staff Lecturer, Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
    • Montse Guitert, Professor, Psychology and Education Department, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

    - Moderator:

    • Albert Sangrà, UNESCO Chair in Education & Technology for Social Change, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain.

    CHAPTER VI: Data Governance: What should we be aware of?

    Thursday, 14 October 2021 | 2:30 pm CEST (12:30 pm UTC)

    - Speakers:

    • Nela Petkovic, CIO, Information and Communication Technologies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada
    • Juliana E. Raffaghelli, Ramón y Cajal Programme Researcher, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

    - Moderator:

    • Trine Jensen, Manager, HE & Digital Transformation, International Association of Universities (IAU)




    Innovative Doctoral Courses for Sustainability (IDOCOS), focuses on how to secure both quality enhancement, an increased number of PhDs and increased efficacy. IDOCOS combines an innovative approach in co-creation and sharing with relevant existing building blocks and has the following five objectives:

    To support and facilitate university staff and doctoral students across universities in different countries:

    1. In co-creation and sharing of digitalised courses and open learning materials prepared for quality online, flexible and blended teaching and learning.
    2. For adopting a scalable and robust methodology for co-creation and sharing of digitalised courses.
    3. Access to shared courses and open learning materials for teaching and learning.
    4. For access to relevant tools, (open when available) for co-creation and sharing of open courses and learning materials.
    5. In building competencies for digital transformation.

    Visit the IDOCOS Portal

    Concluding Event
    Innovative Doctoral Courses for Sustainability (IDOCOS) is a project that aims to enhance the quality of and increase access to doctoral courses through international co-creation and sharing. To support this objective, the main focus of the project has been to develop a methodology for international collaboration building on co-creation and sharing of doctoral courses.

    The methodology builds on the opportunities provided by digital technologies while linking the content to sustainable development. Learn more about the scope of the project here.

    The project includes a demonstrator course on Digital Transformation as well as a platform that supports the process of co-creation and sharing.
    The partners of the project are pleased to invite you to an online event where the key project outcomes will be presented. The session will also include an interactive session where the audience can engage, ask questions and share their experience in terms of collaboration around doctoral courses.

    This event will welcome the following speakers:
    - Hilligje van’t Land, Secretary General, International Association of Universities (IAU)
    - Gard Titlestad, Director, Nordic Insight
    - Elizabeth Keller, Administrative Coordinator, KTH, Sweden
    - Henrik Hansson, Professor at Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, Sweden
    - Johan Thorbiörnson, Director, KTH, Sweden
    - Tore Sætersdal, Assistant Director, and Academic Coordinator, Global Challenges, Center for International Health, University of Bergen, Norway

    This event will be moderated by Trine Jensen, Manager for HE & Digital Transformation, International Association of Universities (IAU)

    The online event will take place on 15 May from 12:00 - 2:00 PM UTC/GMT.

    Register Here

    Funding source and partners
    IDOCOS project is co-funded by the Erasmus + Strategic Partnership programme of the European Union and within this frame, the key target group for the project deliverables are universities in EU countries. Yet the group of partners is committed to building on the project and engaging with universities from different parts of the world and most particularly Africa.

    The project runs from March 2021 to May 2023.


    For more information, contact Trine Jensen

    Trine Jensen

  • Internationalization

    IAU’s vision is to be the facilitator and promoter of an internationalization for all, in which all the different voices of nations, people and cultures of the world are represented and heard equally; an internationalization which allows students to grow as global responsible citizens, which promotes collaboration in research to find answers to most pressing challenges at global level; an internationalization which allows the sharing of experiences to find solutions to local problems and benefits local communities; an internationalization for society and the global common good, an internationalization that incorporates a global outlook in HEIs .

    Such an internationalization is a fundamental tool to build a global community of higher education and research which contributes to openness, collaboration, social justice and equity, mitigate global asymmetries through education, research and community/societal engagement.


    To achieve this vision, the IAU will lead the global higher education community, including all stakeholders, towards this common understanding of internationalization, and will proactively engage its members in this endeavor.

    Strategic objectives

    To achieve this ultimate goal IAU has established three strategic objectives directed at different stakeholders:

    • Higher education institutions around the world have a clear understanding of internationalization and are aware of the latest trends and developments;
    • Higher education institutions around the world have the capacity to develop and implement a comprehensive internationalization strategy;
    • Governments, international governmental and nongovernmental organizations share the vision of internationalization for society and the global common good and support it.

    Lines of action

    In order to achieve these strategic objectives IAU will perform four main types of actions:

    • Think tank and Global hub: to provide fora in which the concept of an internationalization for all can be developed and to act as a focal point at global level for knowledge sharing and mutual learning in internationalization
    • Research: to provide a critical analysis of the current trends in internationalization
    • Advisory services: to provide support to HEIs in the implementation of an internationalization plan and action plan
    • Advocacy: to engage governments and international governmental and nongovernmental organizations, university leadership and university associations in the promotion and implementation of internationalization for society and the global common good


    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).



    The objective of the ISAS impact evaluation study, conducted in partnership between IAU and the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, is to investigate the efficacy of the Internationalization Strategy Advisory Services (ISAS) and its successor program ISAS (2.0) on internationalization initiatives at higher education institutions.

    Research objectives of this study are three-fold:

      • To identify progress institutions have made at the suggestion of ISAS;
      • To identify the reason for gaps between recommendations and implementation, defined as barriers to internationalization;
      • To analyze and share results that inform the development of IAU’s future advisory services.

    12 of the 17 institutions that ever undertook an ISAS or ISAS (2.0) service participated in the study. The sampling of institutions included in this study, with unique regional, national and institutional contexts, are a microcosm of global higher education at large. Yet collectively, their responses convey that internationalization remains a pressing priority of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), regardless of geographic location.

    The results show that every university indicated that working with ISAS was helpful in advancing internationalization initiatives. This is a clear endorsement of ISAS by the institutions.

    In their quest for internationalization, all institutions inevitably face challenges. Overcoming those challenges requires a clear, strategic approach, one that is responsive and in alignment with the core mission and values of the institution. IAU through its advisory services stands ready to help institutions in refining or progressing their internationalization priorities built on an inclusive, fair and ethical process.


    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 IAU Institutional Members (HEIs), individuals at HEIs, national governments and organizations.

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    IAU aims to expand the range of learning opportunities available to individuals, and to offer to all individuals at HEIs the opportunity to access its programs.

    In October 2018 the first ISAS (2.0) webinars took place. The topic of the first webinar was “Developing a Strategic Approach to Internationalization”. The speakers were the IAU Senior Fellows Eva Egron-Polak and Madeleine Green. To maximize outreach and accommodate time differences, IAU conducted the webinar in both English and French and re-broadcasted the original English language session.

    The English language webinars drew 36 participants from all over the world, including Australia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan and the USA. IAU received positive feedback and participants expressed enthusiasm about IAU’s plans to continue this initiative. Participation was low in the French webinar. Moving forward, IAU will thus develop a whole series of webinars in English, each dedicated to a specific pressing topic in international education.


    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.



    IAU officially launched the 6th edition of the Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education: The Future of Internationalization of Higher Education in January 2023. The IAU accepted responses for the survey until June 2023. The survey report was published on 2 April 2024 via a live webinar. The webinar recording is available on the IAU Youtube page.

    The IAU 6th Global Survey on the Internationalization of Higher Education received responses from 722 higher education institutions (HEIs) in 110 countries and territories. The resulting survey report analyses the findings in order to present both global and regional trends. Furthermore, the report compares current findings with data from the IAU’s previous Global Surveys on Internationalization in order to explore long-term changes occurring in the internationalization field. Discover first results of the survey here.

    The Global Surveys are IAU flagship publications for our strategic priority on Internationalization. IAU has produced five Global Surveys to date (2003, 2005, 2010, 2014, 2019), and the reports of the surveys are of seminal importance in the internationalization of higher education. The survey has grown in breadth and detail over the years and are often cited by researchers and experts in the field, and higher education media.

    Read the Report

    Read the Executive Summary

    For the latest edition of the survey, IAU draws on the expertise of an Advisory Committee.

    Initial Findings

    Sponsors and partners

    IAU extends our gratitude to the institutions below who are the Global Survey sponsorship partners:

    and the following organizations partnering with IAU for the Global Survey:

    6th Global Survey Timeline

    IAU developed a first draft of the questionnaire for the 6th edition in June 2022 and identified a group of 14 universities from all regions of the world for the pilot phase that took place in October 2022. The survey was launched on 16 January 2023 and closed on 16 June 2023 collecting replies from 740 Higher Education Institutions from 110 countries and territories around the world. IAU aims to publish the 6th Global Survey report at the start of 2024.


    The Global Surveys in numbers

    The 2003 edition of the survey was completed by 176 IAU member HEIs from 66 different countries. 745 institutions in 115 countries completed the 2010 edition. The 2014 edition was completed by 1 336 institutions in 131 countries. The 2019 edition saw fewer institutions (907 in 126 countries) taking part; however, it has the best geographical distribution of all the surveys. IAU aims to continue to build on these successes in the future.

    Since 2003, IAU has conducted regular Global Surveys, which have become an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the internationalization of higher education. They are used by researchers, as relevant data that stimulate further research and innovation in the field; by HEIs to benchmark themselves in the development of their internationalization processes at global and regional levels; and by policymakers to seek inspiration for policies affecting higher education.

    - 5th Global Survey (2019) - IAU 5th Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education.
    Executive Summary
    - Analysis of answers from francophone and francophile higher education institutions in French
    - 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

    Contact: Giorgio Marinoni

    Future of Internationalization Partnership (FIP) Project

    The Future of Internationalization Partnership (FIP) is a three-year project, begun in May 2021, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) that brings together The Center for International Higher Education (CIHE) at Boston College, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, and the IAU.

    Led by Project Director Dr. Elizabeth Buckner, an Assistant Professor in Higher Education at the University of Toronto, the FIP aims to deepen theoretical understanding of how internationalization is changing in response to global pressures.

    The outcome of the first year of the project, the report "The Internationalization of Higher Education in the Wake of COVID-19: A Rigorous Review of the Literature on Short-Term Impacts" is now available.

    During the second year, through mixed methods research, the project will design a new survey module to be included in the sixth edition of the IAU Global Survey on Internationalization, which addresses external pressures to internationalization.

    The project will also conduct case studies of institutional innovations and engage scholars and practitioners to discuss effective, equitable, and sustainable forms of internationalization in higher education. One of the most important aspects of the project will be to translate research findings into profiles of good practice and resources for institutional leaders.

    COST Action - European Network on International Student Mobility: Connecting Research and Practice

    Giorgio Marinoni, Manager HE and Int sits on the Management Committee of COST Action - European Network on International Student Mobility: Connecting Research and Practice.

    This Action responds to the pressing need for systematic interdisciplinary and international exchange of knowledge on theoretical frameworks, research methodologies, findings, and best practice examples, and for translating scientific findings into recommendations for international student mobility ISM practice.

    The Action brings together established researchers, early-career investigators (ECIs) and PhD students from different scientific disciplines, countries, and research communities as well as stakeholders from international offices, international student and study abroad organizations, and different policy levels. The Action will offer comparative and practical insights into ISM dynamics by bringing fragmented knowledge together, with the main aim of generating new interdisciplinary and innovative empirical perspectives on the phenomenon and translating these into tangible recommendations for stakeholders.

    Learn more about COST Action

    2024 Conference of COST Action CA20115

    ‘European Network on International Student Mobility: Connecting Research and Practice’ (ENIS)
    13-15 May 2024
    Tbilisi, Georgia

    Learn more about the conference.

    ENIS COST Action Tweeter TwitterENIS COST Action LinkedInLinkedin


    IAU and Boston College collaborated on a research project about the role of English language instruction in higher education institutions(HEIs) around the world. IAU and the Boston College Center for International Higher Education (CIHE) co-supervised research undertaken by Xinyan (Sissi) Liu, a student in CIHE’s Master of Arts program in International Higher Education. This program requires that all students participate in a course titled “Field Experience in International Higher Education.” The course combines practical experience at higher education organizations, such as the IAU, with an in-depth research project.

    Sissi’s report explores the national policies and role of English language instruction at HEIs in Brazil, France, Malaysia, South Africa and Spain. This is a particularly timely topic at the time when English language has become dominant in many fields, including in highly cited research and scholarship more broadly.


    Policy Statements - Network of International Education Associations (NIEA) - IAU Working Group

    IAU has developed advocacy positions on internationalization of higher education:


    IAU acts as the coordinator of the Network of International Education Associations, NIEA. NIEA members are non-profit, non-government associations which main stated purpose is to advance international higher education. The Network advances the global learning of post-secondary education organizations through the exchange of information and dialogue, advocacy for international education, professional development, and discovery of new approaches to international education.

    NIEA members have two annual meetings, one alternating between EAIE and NAFSA conferences and the other at a conference organized by a member in the Global South.

    In addition to IAU acting as a coordinator, one NIEA chair is elected from NIEA members. The chair for 2022 is Esther Brimmer, CEO, NAFSA.



    NIEA organised two Global Dialogues on Internationalization of higher education, the first Global Dialogue held in 2014 and hosted by International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA), led to the Nelson Mandela Bay declaration on the future of internationalization of higher education.

    In 2020, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, NIEA members published a statement reaffirming the importance of international higher education and research, which calls government and higher education institutions around the world for supporting international collaboration as an essential means to finding solutions to global problems, which manifest differently in local contexts.

    Scope: The Working Group provides strategic advice and direction to the IAU. The WG suggests the overall direction IAU internationalization work should take while keeping in mind the synergies with the other IAU strategic priorities, specifically sustainable development and the digital transformation of higher education. Equally, its recommendations respect the overall vision, mission, values and strategic plan of IAU.


    • Inga Žalėnienė bio, Rector, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania


    • Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah bio, Vice-Chancellor, University of Abuja, Nigeria
    • Wondwosen Tamrat bio, President, St Mary’s University, Ethiopia
    • Sunungurai Dominica Chingarande bio, Vice-Chancellor, Women’s University in Africa, Zimbabwe
    • Miquel Nicolau-Vila bio, Rector, Universitat d’Andorra, Andorra
    • Shahin Bayramov bio, Rector, Mingachevir State University, Azerbaijan
    • David Julien bio, Secretary-General, Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (IOHE)
    • Fernando Leon-Garcia bio, President, CETYS University, Mexico

    IAU Secretariat Staff:

    Giorgio Marinoni



    In collaboration with the UNESCO Chair "Internationalization of Higher Education and Global Citizenship" of the University of Guadalajara, the IAU offered an online diploma in Fall 2023 in "Management of the Internationalization of Higher Education" specifically designed for the context of higher education institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Throughout the course, the following themes were centrally discussed:

    - Strategies for the design, planning and management of a comprehensive internationalization process
    - Strategies and management of student mobility
    - Internationalization of the curriculum
    - Internationalization of research
    - Promotion and management of international cooperation
    - Promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and global citizenship

    The first edition of this project ran from September 2023 to December 2023. Courses were conducted completely online and in English and Spanish.

    To learn more about the Online Diploma in Internationalization Management in Higher Education, please visit the project website here. The next and second edition of this online diploma is planned to start in September 2024 and to be global in scope.

  • 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. Since 1993, IAU advocates for the key role higher education plays in achieving sustainable development. IAU’s actions in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provide a framework for universities to develop inter-institutional collaboration in pursuit of sustainable development. The aim is to assist higher education leaders wishing to embed sustainable development concepts and principles in strategic planning, academic and organizational work.


    • 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

    Have a look at the IAU HESD Flyer



    IAU represents the voice of its Members globally, develops guidelines for embedding sustainable development in higher education and research and provides analyzes of global and regional trends on institutional approaches to sustainable development.

    >> To learn more about IAU Policy Statements and the Global Surveys on HESD, go to RESOURCES.


    - The IAU global HESD Cluster brings together IAU Members who work together in teaching, research and campus and community engagement activities to share knowledge, develop expertise, joint projects and recommendations on how higher education contributes to addressing the global goals set in Agenda 2030.
    >> To learn more about the IAU global HESD Cluster, please go to IAU GLOBAL CLUSTER ON HESD.

    - IAU is a key partner of the UNESCO GAP ESD, which ended in 2019. IAU is involved in the follow-up programme ESD for 2030, which was launched at the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development in May 2021.
    >> IAU collaborates with international and national entities and sits on several committees to advance cooperation and foster HESD.


    - The IAU Global Portal maps institutional initiatives and showcases best practices on sustainable development from around the world. It includes more than 800 higher education institutions.
    >> To learn more about the IAU Global portal on HESD, go to GLOBAL PORTAL

    - The IAU developed a series of joint Publications on HESD, each time focusing specifically on a particular SDG.
    >> To learn more about the IAU SDG Publication Series, go to RESOURCES.

    The working group, composed of IAU Administrative Board members, provides advice on the strategic direction in HESD, and can be consulted by the Vice President chairing the WG group with regard to engagement in activities. The WG’s suggestions and recommendations respect the overall vision, mission, values and strategic plan of IAU. The WG meets 2-3 times a year, online and with the possibility of meeting on the sidelines of regular IAU conferences and Board meetings.


    Jouhaina Gherib, President, University of Manouba, Tunisia

    Salim Daccache, Rector, Saint Joseph University of Beirut, Lebanon
    Yoshiaki Terumichi, President, Sophia University, Japan
    Pam Fredman, IAU Immediate Past President
    Nomeda Gudelienė, Advisor to Deputy Rector on Sustainable Development, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania

    IAU Secretariat
    - Hilligje van't Land, Secretary General, International Association of Universities
    - Isabel Toman, Programme Officer, International Association of Universities


    To enhance international cooperation in HESD, IAU cooperates with various key partners and sits on several committees.
    Click on each partner to learn more about our cooperation:

    UNESCO ESD for 2030

    Copernicus Alliance

    Energy Observer


    Green Gown Awards

    Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie

    Association of Commonwealth Universities



    Launched in 2018, the IAU Cluster on HESD promotes the role of higher education institutions in building more sustainable societies. It is a consortium of IAU Member universities from all parts of the world, working in collaboration to develop existing and new exciting initiatives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by all United Nations Member States in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    The Cluster encourages a holistic approach to the SDGs, promoting the whole institution approach, where institutions aim to embed sustainable development in their strategic planning, academic and organizational work.


    Each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is assigned an institutional team leader, joined by a group of Satellite Universities. IAU is responsible for leading the work on SDG 17 - Partnerships for the goals.
    IAU and the 16 lead institutions, together with their satellite universities, are acting as the voice for higher education at the United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum. Through this international cooperation, the project has the most global outreach than any other project in the field.

    Read the latest IAU HESD Cluster Activity Report (2022-23) here to discover:

    • The latest updates from all 16 Cluster Leads
    • Updates from the IAU on work towards SDG 17: Partnerships for the SDGs
    • Information from various Cluster Satellites
    • Good practices and initiatives to replicate


    Discover the Members of the IAU Global Cluster on HESD !
    Click on each SDG to learn more about the lead institution and its initiatives on the IAU HESD Portal

    • SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals: International Association of Universities (IAU)

    The full list of IAU HESD Cluster Leads and Satellites, as well as examples for Cluster actions, can be found here.

    If you wish to get involved in the activities of the IAU Global Cluster on Higher Education and Sustainable Development, please contact Isabel Toman, IAU Programme Officer for HESD. Please indicate your institution’s name, and contact details and do not hesitate to provide information on the existing and/or future initiatives towards sustainable development at your institution!



    IAU developed a dedicated portal on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development:

    This global portal presents IAU’s strategy to support sustainable development in higher education, reports on all IAU activities in the the field, provides useful resources about sustainable development in higher education and maps more than 1000 inspiring initiatives implemented by higher education institutions and organizations to reach the SDGs.|

    The Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD) global portal is a tool developed by the International Association of Universities; it provides access to actions and initiatives developed around the world to promote sustainability. It showcases best practices of universities and higher education institutions worldwide. Actions include student initiatives, Living Labs, Green Campuses, faculties engaged in sustainable development, and leadership initiatives.

    The portal is searchable by Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), type of initiative, organisation/HEI and area of work. Currently, the portal lists over 480 News items , more than 1200 actions from 1100 HEIs and 200 Organizations globally (July 2023).

    If you wish to add your higher education institution, action, or news to the portal, please contact Isabel Toman.



    The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) is the yearly conference of the United Nations where governments, UN Agencies and civil society come together to discuss the achievements that have been made towards the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.

    HLPF 2023
    The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) was held from Monday, 10 July, to Wednesday, 19 July 2023, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. This included the three-day ministerial segment of the forum from Monday, 17 July, to Wednesday, 19 July 2023 as part of the High-level Segment of the Council. The last day of the High-level Segment of ECOSOC was on Thursday, 20 July 2023.

    The theme was "Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels”.

    The HLPF in 2023, without prejudice to the integrated, indivisible and interlinked nature of the SDGs, also reviewed in-depth Goals 6 on clean water and sanitation, 7 on affordable and clean energy, 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, 11 on sustainable cities and communities, and 17 on partnerships for the Goals.

    >>> List of UN HLPF 2023 events with IAU participation <<<

    SDG 11: Progress, challenges, lessons learned and tools for sustainable transformation of cities - 14 July

    As in previous years, IAU’s proposal to hold a virtual workshop as part of the UN DESA 2023 SDGs Learning, Training and Practice Workshops was successful. This year’s event focused on SDG 11: Sustainable Cities, and in particular the role of universities in contributing to a sustainable city and building partnerships with local actors and communities.

    Partners: Sustainable Cities Institute (Brazil), World Blind Union (WBU), UNIBO and University of Paris Saclay.

    Session 9, 8.30am-10.00am ET/ 2.30pm-4pm CEST (Session description here)
    More information and Recording here

    2023 HESI Global Forum - 17 July

    The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) is a partnership between several United Nations entities and the higher education community, currently chaired by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA). IAU and many other UN agencies, associations, and higher education institutions are part of the HESI initiative. Each year, HESI organizes a global forum as a special event to the HLPF to highlight the critical role of higher education in achieving sustainable development.

    17 July, 10am-1pm ET/ 4pm-7pm CEST (Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York and virtual)
    Learn more about the hybrid event, programme, and event recording here.

    2023 International Green Gown Awards Ceremony - 17 July

    The International Green Gown Awards Ceremony, took place virtually on 17 July. More information on this year’s finalists and registration available here.
    IAU is pleased to be a longstanding partner of HESI and the IGGAs.

    Community and Partnership Based Approaches to Capacity Building in the Water Sector - 18 July

    Recognizing that research, knowledge transfer, and community engagement are essential for the achievement of all of the Sustainable Development Goals, and that SDG 6 is under review at this year’s HLPF, the "How we know what we know about water: Community and partnership-based approaches to capacity building in the water sector" side event, which took place on July 18, 8am-9.30 ET, 2pm-3.30pm CEST explored best practices in water sector capacity building from around the world, including a focus on partnerships (with educational institutions, local governments, NGOs, etc.) as an accelerator for action.

    The event brought together experts from across the global networks of the International Association of Universities, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and the Global Water Partnership, representing higher education, policy, and practice, who presented and discussed innovative approaches to, and the remaining needs of, capacity building in the sector.

    The virtual event was co-organized by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and the IAU.
    More information on the concept note here.

    IAU at the HLPF

    IAU has Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) which enables participation in this High-Level event. While 2019 was the first year that IAU participated in the HLPF in New York (IAU secretariat with a delegation of 18 Members), in the years before IAU was represented by its Members (and in particular through the University of Bergen, Norway). Read about it in the 2019 HLPF Report. In 2020, 2021, and 2022, participation in the HLPF was virtual. Find out more about IAU’s participation in previous years by clicking on the boxes 2019, 2020 2021, and 2022 below.

    Follow us for updates on the UN HLPF also here:


    IAU 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 1500 initiatives and counts some 3000 monthly visitors.

    >>> Researching HESD trends

    >>> Publications

    IAU started a Series of Publication, one for each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The first one on SDG 13 (Climate Action) was released in July 2019, followed by a publication on SDG 5 (Gender Equality) published on the occasion of International Women’s Day in March 2021. In November 2021, a special collection of papers on Higher Education and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) resulting from a paper competition for young scholars with UNODC/E4J was released. Also in 2021, the work on a publication for SDG 14 (Life below water) with the University of Bergen was completed.


    The International Association of Universities (IAU) has advocated for the role universities and other higher education institutions (HEIs) have played in support of sustainable development since the early 1990s. Already in 1993, the IAU Kyoto Declaration called for higher education leaders to articulate better HE’s work to achieve a sustainable future. This was reaffirmed in 2014 with the IAU Iquitos Statement. IAU is one of the strongest advocates for the inclusion of higher education as a key stakeholder in achieving Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, including at high-level events such as the UN-HLPF, at UNESCO conferences and other global events with its Members and partners.

    UNESCO ESD Net 2030 and recent UNESCO engagement

    ESD for 2030 Global Network IAU was a key partner of the UNESCO GAP ESD, which ended in 2019. IAU is again a partner in the follow-up programme ESD for 2030, which was launched at the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development in May 2021. IAU actively participated at this 2021 ESD Conference, with IAU Secretary General Hilligje van’t Land and IAU Board Member and president, Siam University, Thailand Pornchai Mongkhonvanit, speaking in the expert panel on ‘Putting ESD into action: in higher education’. IAU supports the Berlin declaration and the ESD for 2030 Roadmap. In March 2023, IAU facilitated a UNESCO Webinar on on ESD Pedagogy, and in June 2023, IAU was invited to attend and speak at the ESD for 2030 Regional Meeting in Paris at UNESCO HQ.

    UNESCO UNITWIN Chairs Conference November 2022
    IAU attended the 2-day UNESCO UNITWIN Chairs Conference at UNESCO HQ in Paris, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the programme which connects academics, HEIs and UNESCO’s work all over the globe. IAU Secretary General Hilligje van’t Land spoke on the plenary Responding to Multi-dimensional Crises: Implications for Research. She stressed the importance of collaboration in higher education for democracy, fairness, and inclusion to transform knowledge systems for the future, including the role of research to achieve this. IAU met with many UNESCO Chairholders that are also IAU Member representatives, as well as colleagues from UNESCO IESALC, IIEP, and other.

    UN Transforming Education Summit 2022
    Among the events in which theIAU participated were the UN Transforming Education pre-Summit (pre-TES) at UNESCO in Paris in June, and the UN TES at the UN Headquarters in New York in September. The IAU presented in both events as a partner to the session organised by the SDG Academyof the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), placing focus on the importance of sharing Open Educational Resources for SD to ensure proper circulation of knowledge around the world. While the Summit provided an important opportunity to mobilise support of governments across the world for the importance of investing in education, higher education unfortunately remains at the fringes of the conversations. The IAU thus continues to call for more specific attention to the higher education sector.

    IAU was invited to co-organise a session on higher education and ESD at the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference (WHEC22) in May 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. The panel included experts from UNESCO and IAU Board members and partners.

    IAU HESD Cluster Workshop 2022
    After successful application for the 2020-2021 UNESCO Participation Programme, IAU was able to implement an expert workshop in March 2022 originally foreseen in 2021), which brought together over 81 participants including university leaders and researchers from 37 universities from 31 countries around the world taking part – with participation from 18 representatives from 6 LDC countries. During the 3-day virtual workshop, many aspects of Agenda 2030 were discussed, and the universities exchanged on good practices towards higher education’s contribution towards the SDGs, as well as elaborate two key documents for the future commitment of the IAU HESD cluster: A statement on the Joint vision from the IAU Higher Education for Sustainable Development (HESD) Cluster members and Strategy and Working Plan 2022-2024.

    In 2021, IAU also supported its member universities in the creation of the UNITWIN Network on ESD and Social Transformation (UNiESD&ST).


    IAU and its Member institutions are committed to working together towards a more sustainable future, including for SDG 13: Climate Action ahead of COP28. Key concepts are:
    • ESD: Education for Sustainable Development and the Greening Education Partnership (UNESCO)
    • ACE: Action for Climate Empowerment (UNFCCC)
    • CCE: Climate Change Education (MECCE)

    Several initiatives are in place to stress the role of higher education in research, teaching, student and community engagement, and more at COP28. More information will be shared soon.

    >>> IAU HESD Cluster on SDG 13

    The University of the West Indies leads SDG 13: Climate Action in the global IAU HESD Cluster. It is located in the Caribbean with campuses in Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and hence in one of the regions already affected by climate change. The University has multiple initiatives focusing on sustainable development: the Climate Studies Group Mona (CSGM), Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), and the cross-campus UWI Resilience Working Group (UWIRWG).

    More information on their SDG13 Activities with the University Consortium on SDG 13 is available here.

    >>> Key events during COP28 for the (higher) education sector

    >>> IAU Partners working on higher education and climate

    UNESCO and the Greening Education partnership will organise a meeting and host a pavillion at COP28. The Greening Education Hub - During the 13-day COP28 event in Dubai (30 Nov to 12 Dec), the Greening Education Partnership coordinators and UNESCO secretariat will collaborate with the UAE Ministry of Education on the programming of the Greening Education Hub. This is the first education-focused pavilion hosted by a COP presidency. It will feature over 200 sessions related to each day’s COP theme, emphasizing education’s crucial role in addressing climate change, with a focus on greening schools, curriculum, teacher training, educational systems, and communities. The full timetable and hybrid links will be provided soon - find out more here.

    The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI).

    SDSN is organising several on-site and online events and has created a Resource Hub for COP28.

    The EAUC has created a resources page for COP28 and is calling on universities and individuals can sign on to the SDG Accord and "Race to Zero" commitments. More information here.

    The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), a close partner of IAU for HESD. The ACU Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort participated at COP28 with a delegation and co-organised several events.

    The MECCE Project, in which IAU is a partner, also send a delegation to COP 27 and is involved in discussions around ACE (Action for Climate Empowerment). More information on how MECCE is involved at COP27 is available on the MECCE website. Furthermore, MECCE launched an interactive data platform on CCE around the globe.

    SOS-UK is a student-led education charity focusing on sustainability. SOS was represented at the COP and involved in various activities.

    Second Nature brought together a small higher education delegation and has organised webinars leading up to the COP28. Find out more here.

    The Network of Networks (NoN) - network led by Zero Cambridge and University of Toronto.

    >>> Updates on general COP negotiations can also be found on the UNFCCC page here.


    >>> IAU Policy Statements on HESD & supported declarations

    >>> 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.

    Isabel Toman

  • Leadership

    Leadership is a core aspect of quality higher education, vital in enabling institutions to respond to complex challenges and social transformation. Higher education leadership must be underpinned by values and responsibility; it must also constantly evolve in order to address emerging challenges and opportunities. It is essential that higher education institutions fully contribute to the development of sustainable and democratic societies by ensuring fair, equitable, and inclusive access to education. IAU endeavours to strengthen capacities of university leaders and enhance cooperation among HEIs across the world, whilst also invigorating university leadership to maximise their impact on communities at all levels.

    Overall objectives for 2022-2026:

    • Provide thought leadership
    • Foster professional development
    • Monitor trends in leadership challenges
    • Facilitate peer-to-peer learning


    About the Executive Leadership Program (ELP)
    The IAU Executive Leadership Programme (ELP) is unique. It is radically global in its ambition to support university leaders across all higher education systems and types focusing on common issues and challenges. It covers central aspects of higher education management for a sustainable running of the institution, and it empowers university leaders to navigate the contextual and political dimensions of university leadership. In short, the ELP provides a framework with which to confront the big managerial, ethical, economic and societal questions universities are facing or will face.

    Want to learn more or share this opportunity with others? Access the full programme brochure here.

    Modular Topics:

    Transformative Leadership
    1. The Changing Mission of Universities
    2. Building Partnerships Across the Global Higher Education Landscape
    3. Navigating the Strategic Planning Process

    Higher Education Management
    4. Effective Governance, Risk Management, and Oversight
    5. Budgeting, Financial Strategy, and Administration
    6. Diversifying Income Streams and Fundraising Strategies in Higher Education
    7. Creating and Managing Effective Teams

    Values Based Leadership
    8. Leadership in the Transformation of Higher Education
    9. Charting a Sustainable Future for Higher Education
    10. Defining and Communicating the Role of Higher Education in Society

    Learning Outcomes:
    - Enhanced Strategic Thinking and Planning: Gain a new perspective on different aspects of global higher education to improve scenario thinking for the implications for your current strategy and future plans.
    - Understand Your Leadership Capabilities: Gain better knowledge of the different dimensions of strategic leadership to become a globally engaged leader of change.
    - Develop Effective Teams: Explore leadership expectations and improve interpersonal management skills to unlock the full potential of diverse high-performing teams.
    - Build a Global Network of Peers: Create long-term partnerships, connect with colleagues from all over the world, and share experiences to learn from each other.

    Program Details:
    Dates: 25 November 2023 - Autumn 2024. The first session will be held at the IAU 2023 International Conference at Qatar University in Doha.

    Format: The ELP will meet in person and online over the course of one year. Each module is complimented by two Action Leadership Groups, separated into current and emerging leaders for true peer-to-peer exchange. 

    Coordinator: Dr. Andreas Corcoran, IAU Deputy Secretary General

    Language of Instruction: English

    Tuition Fees:
    - IAU Members: €1500
    - Non Members: €2250
    - LDC Rate*: €1000
    * Click here to see which countries are categorized as LDCs.

    Registration: Please register via the following form:

    Register Here

    Meet the program facilitators:
    - Teri Balser, Immediate past Provost and Vice President,
    University of Calgary, Canada
    - Chris Brink, Former Vice Chancellor, Newcastle University, UK
    - Andreas Corcoran, IAU Deputy Secretary General
    - Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice Chancellor, Queen’s University, Canada
    - Andrew Deeks, President of Murdoch University, Australia and IAU President
    - Pam Fredman, Former Rector Gothenburg University and IAU immediate past President
    - Tawana Kupe, Former Vice Chancellor, University of Pretoria, South Africa
    - Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives and Professor, Howard University, USA, and Former Vice Chancellor and Professor of the Humanities and Social SciencesVice Chancellor and Professor of the Humanities and Social Sciences
    United States International University - Africa, Kenya.


    Please note that this program has been redesigned into the IAU Executive Leadership Program and that this particular program is no longer available.




    - JUNE 2019 / LGEU-7: ISIT (Paris, France)

    - OCTOBER 2018 / LGEU-6: National University of Political Studies and Public Administration
    (Bucharest, Romania)

    - MAY 2018 / LGEU-5: McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada)

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

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

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

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



    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.


    Inter-american Organization for Higher Education (OUI-IOHE)

    The Inter-american Organization for Higher Education (OUI-IOHE) is a reflective and action-oriented forum of over 350 members from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), research centers and national, regional, and international associations.

    OUI-IOHE is a common space composed of 28 countries divided into 9 regions: the Andean countries, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, Colombia, Mexico, the Southern Cone, and the United States.

    It is a network of 5 million decision-makers, leaders, professors, researchers and students in higher education across the Americas with 40 years of experience in internationalization, leadership and training.

  • EAIE

    European Association for International Education (EAIE)

    Founded in 1989, the EAIE is the European centre for expertise, networking and resources in the internationalisation of higher education.

    As a member-led organisation, EAIE provides a platform for learning, networking and knowledge exchange. EAIE’s activities are geared towards helping professionals succeed in their work. EAIE equips academic and non-academic professionals with best practices and workable solutions to internationalisation challenges and provide a platform for strategic exchange. EAIE partners with key stakeholder organisations and institutions to promote its membership interests and advance international higher education. In short, EAIE is dedicated to promoting and driving responsible international education in Europe and beyond.

  • CIN

    Red de Cooperación Internacional de las Universidades Nacionales (RedCIUN) del Consejo Interuniversitario Nacional (CIN)

    The National Interuniversity Board (CIN, by its Spanish acronym) created in 1985, is a non-state-controlled entity under public law mainly supported by the contributions of its members.

    The CIN is in charge of proposing and coordinating policies for the development of Argentine Universities and of promoting activities for the higher education system. In addition, it is a compulsory consultation body in case of major decisions for the university system.
    The Network of International Cooperation of the National Universities (RedCIUN, by its Spanish acronym) is the branch of CIN dedicated to foster International Cooperation of Argentinian Universities.


    NAFSA: Association of International Educators

    NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world’s largest non-profit association dedicated to international education and exchange. NAFSA’s 10 000 members are located at more than 3 500 institutions worldwide, in over 150 countries.

    NAFSA believes that international education advances learning and scholarship, fosters understanding and respect among people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, is essential for developing globally competent individuals, and builds leadership for the global community.


    Korean Association of Foreign Student Administrators (KAFSA) (Membership currently suspended)

    The Korean Association of Foreign Student Administrators (KAFSA) was founded in 1999 for leaders and staffers working for international education of domestic educational institutions of higher learning to encourage the interchange of information thereof, and now, it is regarded as the one representing the international interchange of domestic universities.


    Japan Network for International Education (JAFSA)

    JAFSA is an association comprised of universities, individuals, and other entities including private firms as supporting members interested in facilitating the internationalization of education in Japan and around the world.

    JAFSA promotes and enhances excellence in international education in Japan and provides for a connection to the global community.

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