The International Association of Universities (IAU) is an international non-governmental organization of Member Institutions and Organizations, which was formally established in 1950 to encourage cooperation among institutions of higher education throughout the world. The Association maintains formal and close links with UNESCO.
The IAU is a worldwide organization with Members in some 130 countries; it cooperates with a vast network of international, regional and national bodies.
Its permanent Secretariat, the International Universities Bureau - located at UNESCO, Paris (France) - provides a wide variety of services to its Members and to the international higher education community at large.
The overall goals of the IAU are both internal and external. First, IAU links up its institutional and organisational members; offers them quality services and provides a forum for the higher education institutions of the world to work together. Second, the Association speaks on behalf of universities and of higher education in general. It represents their concerns and interests in public debate and to outside partners. Both of these complementary goals are pursued through future-oriented collective action, including information services, informed policy discussion, research and publications.
By encouraging its members to work together, the IAU:
• facilitates the exchange of experience and learning;
• restates and defends the values that underlie and determine the proper functioning of universities;
• upholds and contributes to the development of a long-term vision of universities' role and responsibilities in society;
• voices the concerns for higher education with regard to policies of international bodies such as UNESCO, the World Bank and others;
• contributes to a better understanding of current trends and developments through analysis, research and debate;
• provides comprehensive and authoritative information on higher education systems, institutions and qualifications worldwide;
• fosters university cooperation and academic exchange through linkages and networks.
Priorities themes looked at by the IAU are the following:
• Sustainable Development
• Intercultural Dialogue
• Access to Higher Education
• Education For All