About IAU


For a worldwide higher education community

Founded in 1950 under the auspices of UNESCO, the International Association of Universities (IAU) is an independent international non-governmental organization. The permanent Secretariat of the Association is based in Paris, France.

IAU is a membership organization that brings together universities, other institutions of higher education and national and regional higher education associations from around the world. Its mission is to strengthen higher education worldwide by providing a global forum for reflection and action to achieve shared goals and respond to common concerns. 

The Association provides its Members, and more generally all higher education stakeholders (decision-makers, specialists, administrators, teachers, researchers and students), with a unique global platform for debate and networking.  It also offers its Members a wide range of services, including information and reference publications such as the International Handbook of Universities (through the IAU/UNESCO Information Centre on Higher Education), research and analysis of latest developments in higher education (through Higher Education Policy journal, for example and reports), and advocacy on behalf of higher education institutions on a number of key topics (through policy statements).  IAU is also committed to building partnerships and networks between higher education institutions worldwide as well as with various international, regional and national bodies (through conferences and most recently the LEADHER Programme of professional development grants).

The Association upholds the values of academic freedom and institutional autonomy, while also promoting greater accountability, institutional responsibility and effectiveness, and the ideal of knowledge made accessible to all through collaboration, commitment to solidarity and improved access to higher education.