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President’s Message

Dr. Pam Fredman
IAU President (2016-2021)
Former Rector of Gothenburg University, Sweden

President message April the 2021
Welcome to the IAU home page where you will find information about activities framed by the IAU vision and mission – to promote and advocate for the role of research and higher education for a democratic and sustainable development of society, with local relevance and global responsibility.

The strength of IAU as the global voice for Higher Education is to advocate for HE to policy- and decision-makers; to provide a valuable platform for cooperation and for sharing knowledge in HE, building on the participation and engagement from Members and partners and of other stakeholders in HE. This is well reflected in the celebrations to mark the IAU’s 70th anniversary.

IAU marked its 70th anniversary on the 9th of December 2020. The plan was to celebrate it at the IAU 16th General Conference planned to take place in Dublin, but, as we all know, the pandemic impacted on our plans as well and on-site meetings became impossible. However, the anniversary was successfully held as an on line event with participants from all over the world, even despite the time differences. Several distinguished speakers, including Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director General for Education at UNESCO - the founding organisation of the IAU -, shared their reflections on the importance and relevance of a global community of Higher education institutions and organisation, and debated the future of HE. Member institutions and organizations, current and former board members and presidents and senior fellows provided for high quality inputs. You will find fantastic short video messages from Members giving their views on IAU; an electronic copy of the special edition of IAU Horizons celebrating 70 years of Higher Education cooperation and presenting a series of though provoking texts on the future of HE (see:vol.25, no.2, 2020).

As a consequence of the pandemic, the IAU Administrative Board unanimously took the decision to postpone the General Conference to 2022. IAU is grateful to Andrew Deeks, VC, University College Dublin (UCD) to support this decision and to agree to host the Conference in October 2022. The postponement has meant that elections to the board and president also could not be held as planned. The Board members and the President have accepted to extend their mandate with an extra year. This also means that the strategic plan adopted in 2016 is extended until revision by the General Conference in 2022.

The IAU Key Thematic Priorities of work are to some extent more relevant than ever, and the importance of these for HE has been highlighted during the pandemic. So has the importance of Agenda 2030 – Transforming our World, and the interconnectedness of the 17 SDGs to realize it. Since April 2020, IAU has been pleased to organize and offer for free a weekly series of International Webinars in which the challenges in HE and the opportunities they have been counterbalanced with are being discussed – the Webinar recordings are all available on the IAU YouTube Channel available from this website; upcoming Webinars as well.

The transfer to online meetings has facilitated invitation and participation of speakers and audiences from all over the world. Yet the transfer to online and virtual mode is not equally accessible to all. The risk of increased inequality in HE is one consequence highlighted in the 2020 IAU global survey on the impact of COVID-19 on HE. Other key challenges stressed include: reduced access to HE, uneven yet substantial decrease of funding for HE, including for education and research in different parts of the world and differently impacting disciplines. But there are also issues that can be jointly address at both the global and local levels. The Report of the 1st Global Survey and the initial results of the 2nd and still ongoing survey on the impacts of Covid-19 on HE can be found on this website as well.

Let me conclude by inviting you to further your cooperation efforts around the world and to develop joint actions and initiatives in order to promote and meet the expectations and needs for high quality HE - education, research and community engagement - for the benefit of society, locally and globally; higher quality HE that leaves no one and no knowledge behind!

Looking forward to welcoming you to IAU events and activities,

Best regards,

Pam Fredman

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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