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President’s Message

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

Welcome to the website of the International Association of Universities (IAU). I am confident that it will give you a good overview on what this global organisation, with a unique global mandate stands for, of its vision and mission and the values that it upholds. IAU offers a unique platform for knowledge seeking and sharing, knowledge development and transfer. The website presents the various priority areas of work of the Association and the specific activities we offer.

IAU puts special emphasis on fostering the fundamental values of Academic Freedom and University Autonomy, Equitable access to higher education, appreciation for divergence of opinion and freedom from political interference, ethics and integrity at all levels within the institutions and in relation to all stakeholders in the wider community.

IAU is the only truly global association of higher education institutions and organizations. With its historic connection with UNESCO, it strives to fully play its role and assume its responsibility to promote and advocate for higher education community to be considered as key actor in the development of sustainable and fair societies. Through trustful collaborative work with our Members, HEIs and organizations from all over the world, IAU represents HE to UNESCO, the OED, the Council of Europe and policy and decision makers on all five continents.

The UN has now clearly recognised the key role of HE to society in the UN Agenda 2030, in particular to achieve SDG 4 – Quality Education. In addition, the IAU stresses the important role HE plays to reach each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Quality education is essential as it can provide the students the kind of competences, knowledge and academic skills, creativity, analytical and critical thinking, they need to take part in the development of a sustainable future and society for all and the development and implementation of innovative solutions for the future.

At the same time, higher education in many parts of the world is being challenged by politicians and sometimes also by other stakeholders in society. The fundamental values of higher education, as described above, are questioned and restricted. The value of knowledge, facts and evidence based scientific research is challenged and even denied.

It is therefore of utmost importance that HEIs and organizations collaborate at national, regional and global levels and build a truly global community able to voice the challenges HE faces and reaffirm the role it plays in society. IAU offers this global voice for higher education and is the Association you should be part of and support to make the difference together, everywhere. For IAU to become even more relevant and fulfil its role better, support, involvement and engagement from the many is needed. The IAU collective action allows to meet the needs of individual Member institutions and organizations.

Today, IAU’s relevance and value is recognized and this translates in the invitations received to join networks, research projects, conferences, global initiatives and in the great participation of the higher education community in IAU activities. The leading role taken up by IAU on the increased role of higher education in the UN Agenda 2030 translated in innovative projects like the creation of the IAU Global Cluster on HESD and the participation in the UN High Level Political Forum in New York for instance. In 2020, IAU joins forces with several key HE organizations to further foster the role of HE all around the world to reach the global goals.

The IAU 2019 International Conference, in Puebla, Mexico, was attended by some 250 Delegates from HE Institutions and organizations. The debates on “Transforming HE for the future” allowed to trigger respectful and open discussion among participants, including on the too many threats to HE and to highlight ideas on how to secure respect and trust for HE from society. The need for cooperation between HE institutions and organizations worldwide to meet challenges and promote HE was recognized as was the relevance of social responsibility of HE at local, regional and international levels. The outcome from this meeting will feed into the IAU 16th General conference to be hosted by UCD in Dublin from 26-29 October 2021.

I am pleased to invite you to already plan to attend and take an active part in the upcoming IAU General conference. It will offer a unique opportunity to debate the “Value and Relevance of Universities to Future Society”. The General Conference is also the decision-making body of the IAU and will see the election of the IAU Administrative Board and new President for the next 4 years, 2021-2025. I will welcome nominations for candidates and much look forward to welcoming you to Ireland in 2021.

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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