International Association of Universities
The Global Voice of Higher Education
Twitter Linkedin Youtube

Home > Knowledge hub

World Higher Education Database (WHED)




The unique database providing authoritative information on higher education systems, credentials and institutions worldwide

The World Higher Education Database (WHED) is the IAU unique online reference portal that provides authoritative information on some 19,800 accredited higher education institutions as well as on higher education systems and credentials in 196 countries and territories. It is globally recognized as an official source of information.

IAU has been collecting this data since its foundation in 1950. The WHED has evolved constantly to meet the needs of the global higher education community. The WHED team collects, processes, validates and publishes comprehensive and detailed higher education data on the portal on a continuous basis. It is a collaborative project with UNESCO and includes the following information:


- Basic Info
Name in English & native language, country

- In-depth info
History, source of funding, fields of study, divisions and degrees offered, accrediting body, admission requirements, key figures

- Key Contacts
Name and phone number of the head of institution, administrative and international relations officers

- AND NOW ! The Global WHED ID:
a unique identifier for each HEI in the world !

- National higher education structure

- Quality assurance systems

- Governing bodies

- Credentials and admission criteria

How is data collected?

The IAU obtains its information from national higher education authorities, governmental agencies and national academic bodies.

Who uses the WHED?

- Internationalization and Admissions offices at HEIs
- Governmental agencies and national authorities
- Higher education grant-awarding authorities
- Quality assurance agencies
- International organisations
- Researchers
- Human resources in the private sector

How can I benefit from the WHED?

Find the information you need through in-depth search functions

Research and analyse the higher education landscape

Obtain customized data sets

Increase your visibility as an IAU Member

Get an access to WHED


The constant and rapid development of the higher education landscape, on all continents, triggered discussions with key stakeholders, initially UNESCO and the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), on the need to facilitate the identification of higher education institutions. This led to the development of a new feature called Global WHED ID, which uniquely identifies each higher education institution listed in the World Higher Education Database (WHED).

What purpose does the Global WHED ID serve?

This project gained additional momentum in connection during the drafting process of the UNESCO Global Convention on the recognition of higher education qualifications, submitted for adoption at the UNESCO General Conference November 2019 (IAU took part in the process).

The Global Convention aims to increase transparency in the higher education landscape at the global level, and to enhance orientation through the ever-expanding field of higher education, by providing a standard for the listings of accredited higher education institutions.

The new development serves several major goals that are dear to the Association:

- Foster transparency of higher education on a global scale;
- Make available information on higher education systems and the list of nationally accredited higher education institutions to all;
- Help facilitate communication within the global higher education community;
- Address the needs of Higher Education stakeholders seeking to identify accredited HE institutions and gather information on them;
- Increase access, speed and the reliability of information;
- Provide better overall administrative certainty;
- Finally yet importantly, combat fraud in higher education.

Who uses the Global WHED ID ?

All stakeholders, whether they be higher education experts, researchers, accreditation officers, international student officers, UN agencies, or HR administrators, to name but a few.

Special Benefit to IAU Members

The visibility of IAU Members is facilated in WHED through a permalink.

Discover the Global WHED ID


While information on systems and credentials across the world remain open to access, different subscription offers are available and provide IAU members with special features to boost their visibility and make maximum use of WHED’s up-to-date and authoritative information on higher education institutions.

Discover the dedicated WHED features offered to IAU Members !

Download this information in PDF

>> Need more information about Membership ? Click here

>> For more information contact [email protected].

The International Handbook of Universities

The International Handbook of Universities was first published in 1959 in response to the growing demand for authoritative information about higher education institutions. It has grown considerably over the years in both the quantity and quality of entries, and includes higher education institutions that offer at least a 4-year degree or a 4-year professional diploma. It is published every year. The latest edition - the 29th edition - was released in eformat and in print in December 2019.

>> Order printed copy
>> Request more information

NGO in official partnership with UNESCO in associate status
International Association of Universities, UNESCO House, 1 rue Miollis, 75732 Paris cedex 15, France
Contact  |   Sitemap  |   Terms of use  |   Credits