International Association of Universities
The Global Voice of Higher Education

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Vision & Mission

Founded in 1950, under the auspices of UNESCO, the International Association of Universities (IAU) is the leading global association of higher education institutions and organisations from around the world.

IAU is an independent, bilingual (English and French), non-governmental, membership organization. IAU membership is open to higher education institutions (HEIs) and organisations.

As a global forum for leaders of institutions and associations, IAU convenes and connects almost 600 Members from more than 130 countries to identify, reflect and act on common priorities. It acts as the global voice of higher education to a wide range of international and inter-governmental organizations, in particular to UNESCO. Members avail of a wide range of services on a priority basis, but these extend also to other HE stakeholders, such as organisations, institutions, higher education authorities, policy and decision-makers, specialists, administrators, teachers, researchers and students.

IAU is funded primarily through its membership fees and depends on these to effectively carry out its wide portfolio of activities encompassing its series of online webinars and thematic debates, events and conferences, publications, projects and other initiatives.
We need your support to maintain our high quality services and advocacy for the key transformative role higher education plays in society - for a better and more sustainable world.

IAU is an official partner of UNESCO (Associate status) and has been given special consultative status by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
IAU was granted the participatory status with the Council of Europe.

For more information on IAU’s activities and membership, please click here or contact [email protected].

As the global voice of higher education, IAU will be the most influential and representative global association of diverse higher education institutions and their organisations, advocating and advancing a dynamic leadership role for higher education in society. Articulating the fundamental values and principles that underpin education and the pursuit, dissemination and application of knowledge, the Association will lead and advocate the development of higher education policies and practices that respect diverse perspectives promote social responsibility and contribute to the development of a sustainable future. IAU will be a think tank and forum for the development of new approaches, the sharing of best practice and the undertaking of joint action, encouraging and facilitating innovation, mutual learning and cooperation among higher education institutions around the world.

To contribute to peace and human development by promoting and enhancing the power of higher education to transform lives, build capacity, connect diverse peoples, generate and disseminate new knowledge, create insights and find sustainable solutions to local and global challenges.

IAU promotes core values among its members and the wider higher education community including:
  • Academic freedom, institutional autonomy and social responsibility locally and globally
  • Cooperation and solidarity based on mutuality of interests and shared benefits
  • Tolerance of divergent opinions, freedom from political interference
  • Equity in access and success in higher education and open access to knowledge
  • Scientific integrity and ethical behaviour as cornerstones of conduct for all stakeholders in higher education
  • Higher education and research in the public interest
  • Quality in learning, research and outreach


IAU works to enhance higher education community’s role and actions in advancing societies worldwide. As a global membership organization, IAU represents and serves the full spectrum of higher education institutions and their associations. The IAU Strategy 2030, adopted during the 16th IAU General Conference, in 2022, affirms IAU’s focus on four key higher education priority themes, while improving support and services to members as well as enhancing their visibility and engagement.

IAU 4 strategic priorities:

IAU fulfils its goals through:

  • Advocacy
  • Standard setter
  • Knowledge hub
  • Capacity builder
  • International collaboration

IAU continuously enhances its efficiency by:

  • Engaging & enlarging IAU membership
  • Ensuring financial sustainability
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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