Ethics in Higher Education


Currently, there exists no international code or guidelines on ethical conduct for higher education institutions that articulates how, as institutions, they promote academic and scientific integrity and prevent academic dishonesty and unethical behaviour by actors and stakeholders that form the academic community.

During the IAU International Conference entitled “Ethics and Values in Higher Education in the Era of Globalization: What Role for the Disciplines?”, held at Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania, in November 2010, it was agreed that, together with the Magna Charta Observatory (MCO), IAU would examine the feasibility of developing an international code or set of guidelines concerned with ethical conduct of and in higher education.

The Joint IAU-MCO Working Group on Ethics in Higher Education was set up, consisting of representatives from IAU Member Institutions as well as the MCO. The first meeting was held during the Fourth Global Meeting of Associations (GMA IV) held in New Delhi, India on 13 April 2011 where it was decided to work on a set of guidelines for institutions wishing to put in place their own code of ethics.

During the second meeting, held on 3 October 2011 at the Council of Europe offices in Paris, France, the first draft was debated and elaborated, before being sent for wider consultation.

The final meeting of the drafting phase was hosted by Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey, 17-18 May 2012 where the final draft of the Guidelines was put forward, and which can now be viewed here.


The IAU-MCO Guidelines for an Institutional Code of Ethics in Higher Education were approved by the IAU Administrative Board and the Magna Charta Council and, after wide dissemination to IAU Members, also approved at the IAU 14th General Conference, held at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, USA in November 2012. The final version is now available.

For more information, or to send comments, contact Nicholas Poulton

IAU welcomes all examples of institutional codes of ethics that may already exist. Copies, in English or French, can also be sent to Nicholas Poulton.

Working Group

This Working Group is chaired by a member of the Administrative Board and can, in addition to Administrative Board members, include experts from any IAU Member institution or organization. Building on the Guidelines for an Institutional Code of Ethics in Higher Education developed jointly by IAU and the Magna Charta Observatory (MCO), the Working Group advises the Administrative Board and the Secretary General on the overall strategic directions to be pursued to increase the visibility and use of the Guidelines by institutions of higher education. It is also invited to propose new and alternative actions that IAU could undertake to support its Members in this policy area or to continue the discussion of ethics-related issues. More specifically, the Working Group provides recommendations on how IAU could assist its Member institutions make the best use of the Guidelines to develop, improve or strengthen their policies. The Working Group is also expected to make recommendations on other, related activities that might be undertaken to promote ethical conduct and to improve understanding the ethical challenges or potential dilemmas that HEIs may face. The MCO will be invited to continue the collaboration in this area.

  • Stephen FREEDMAN, Chair, Provost, Fordham University, USA

  • Santiago ACOSTA, Vice-Rector, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, Ecuador

  • Agneta BLADH, Former Rector, University of Kalmar, Sweden; Council Member, MCO
  • Jean-Pierre FINANCE, Former President, Henri Poincaré University, Nancy-1, France; Council Member, MCO
  • Walid MOUSSA, President, Notre Dame University – Louaize, Lebanon
  • Inga ZALENIENE, Vice-Rector for Research, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania

IAU Secretariat

  • Eva EGRON-POLAK, Secretary General
  • Nicholas POULTON, Administrative/Editorial Assistant

  • Contact: Nicholas Poulton (n.poulton(at)