Note: click here for a PDF of a printable version of this relatively long entry, which is also cross-posted on Inside Higher Ed.
On May 10th 2012 Universitas 21 heaved itself into the higher ed rankings world with “the first ranking of countries which are the ‘best’ at providing higher education.” As this international consortia of universities noted:
The Universitas 21 ranking of national higher education systems has been developed to highlight the importance of creating a strong environment for higher education institutions to contribute to economic and cultural development, provide a high-quality experience for students and help institutions compete for overseas applicants.
A screen grab of the top 24 countries, on the basis of this assessment, is pasted in to the right, and you can download a 28 page PDF of the ranking report here. Two informative commentaries on this rankings initiative were produced over the last few days by Ellen Hazelkorn and Alex Usher.
Now, methodological questions aside, it is always worth asking the questions why has a ranking been produced, and how does the ranking fit into the sponsoring organization’s mission and modus operandi. As I’ve outlined here numerous times, many world university rankings are mechanisms to extract freely provided data from universities, which is then transformed into tables, graphics, analyses, websites, etc., that generate attention, advertising, and fuel for income-generating services provided by private firms like QS and Thomson Reuters.
But the Universitas 21 ranking of national higher education systems is different. First, they are not attempting to extract data from universities as their analysis is framed at the national scale. Second, they primarily drew upon publicly available data to produce their rankings. And third, Universitas 21 is an international consortia of 23 universities (as at 2012), a rare if not lonely bird when it comes to rankings.
My guess, and this is just a guess, is that Universitas 21 is reworking its mission, and the associated suite of objectives and activities to implement this mission. I used to work as a faculty member at the National University of Singapore (a founding member of Universitas 21) and in the early 2000s discussions of rankings were nowhere to be seen in Universitas 21-linked meetings; it was all about human mobility, nascent discussions of generating revenue via online learning, and ways to encourage collaborative research. The sanctioning of a new ranking, taken at the May 2011 President’s Meeting of Universitas 21, highlights that it is indeed a new activity; one well suited for the ‘attention economy‘ we are situated in.
While I won’t comment here on the value of the Universitas 21 ranking of national higher education systems, or of the emergence of yet another higher ed ranking, I do think it is a timely reminder of the value of rethinking the missions and activities of international consortia (sometimes deemed networks) of universities. As Heike Jöns and Michael Hoyler have pointed out in various talks, consortia like Universitas 21 and the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the heyday of the dot.com boom era (remember that?!), a period when universities were exploring new mechanisms to competitively further their internationalization agendas (while simultaneously being seen to be doing so). Interestingly, several of them had early hopes to capitalize on the emergence of for-credit online education as a potential revenue stream.
Smaller, younger, and more exclusive than the national (e.g., Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada), regional (e.g., Association of African Universities), postcolonial/linguistic (e.g., Agence universitaire de la Francophonie; Association of Commonwealth Universities), and global (e.g., International Association of Universities) associations of universities, these international consortia/networks of universities were formed to bring together a group of peers (or almost peers) where some put forward a view that ‘you are only as strong as your weakest link.’ The logic was to bring together like-minded universities to engender deeper and more concentrated forms of collaboration that were impossible on a bilateral 1-1 basis as well as at larger national, regional, or global scales. These consortia, as originally envisioned, were not mechanisms for capacity building (e.g., on a North-South university to university basis); instead they were mechanisms to enable the carefully selected members to become more than the sum of their parts, so to speak.
It is safe to say, with the benefit of hindsight, that such international consortia of universities have had variable levels of success since their emergence in the 1990s and 2000s. Indeed Stephen Toope, the President of the University of British Columbia (UBC), had this to say in 2011:
Inviting the world in—from brilliant hiring to attracting the top international students—cannot of itself create the critical mass of talent that’s needed to solve fundamental global problems. We need partners. We must collaborate, not only with other universities but also with community groups, civil society organizations, industry, and government.
And yet, you might be thinking, we’ve built partnerships! We’ve formed networks! We’ve been collaborating! Yes, and I would argue that so far, none of the university networks that arose at the turn of this century has fulfilled its promise. Truly successful networks typically arise in an organic fashion, from the bottom up. We can’t direct this kind of growth hierarchically. But we can, I believe, foster the conditions in which it will happen naturally. [my emphasis]
A prompt, to be sure, that international consortia like Universitas 21 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (both of which UBC belongs to) need to have their missions and associated mechanisms for implementation debated about, while member universities also need to consider what expectations can realistically be made of the consortia they participate in.
International consortia of universities are operating in new contexts, as well, since many of them were formed “at the turn of this century.” We see, for example:
- A blossoming of international collaborative degrees, many fueled by the largesse of the European Commission, the emergence of the European Higher Education Area, and also the desire of universities in Pacific Asia, South Asia, and Latin America to partner up at North-South and South-South levels.
- The creation of massive open online courses (MOOCs) designed to further easily accessible (and often free) lifelong learning opportunities. Completion of the courses sometimes includes the acquisition of a certificate versus a formal credit towards a degree. This model is a sharp contrast to the early online agenda of the international consortia formed in the late 1990s and early 2000s. See, for example, Coursera, Course Hero, edX, Khan Academy, MITx, OpenClass, Udacity, Udemy, many of which were established in 2011 and 2012.
- The emergence of professional master degrees and “new credit programs that serve non-traditional student populations,” many of which are designed to generate retained revenue for intra-institutional units (departments and schools). These schemes, though, are often targeted at very national if not regional (e.g., state/province) audiences.
- Austerity-related budgets in many national funding councils, which has reduced the opportunity to acquire healthy large-scale research support. In such a context, ‘hitching your wagon’ via an international consortia to other universities in relatively resource rich contexts is unlikely to generate significant, if any, gains.
- The emergence of project-specific international consortia to develop both low and high profile experiments in higher education (e.g. Applied Sciences NYC, est 2012; Center for Urban Science and Progress, est 2012) as well as defacto consortia associated with buildings and programs in select cities (e.g., Singapore’s Campus for Research Excellence And Technological Enterprise (CREATE)), or even universities (e.g., both Saudi Arabia’s KAUST and Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University were brought to life on the back of temporary international consortia of universities).
- The emergence of institutionalized disciplinary-specific networks (e.g., Global Network for Advanced Management, est. 2012) and deep partnerships (e.g., the Wharton-INSEAD Alliance, est. 2001).
- Deep partnerships that bring together 2-3 universities to facilitate enhanced coordination and integration of teaching, research and service functions (e.g., the Monash-Warwick Alliance, est. 2012).
- The establishment of intra-national networks or associations of universities that act as explicit or defacto ‘entry points’ for relations with foreign universities, funding councils, scholarship agencies and the like (e.g. CALDO a consortium of the Universities of Alberta, Laval, Dalhousie and Ottawa).
- An emerging debate about the nature and value system underlying dominant forms of internationalization, including a concern that internationalization is a process “bringing commodification, increasing the brain drain and potentially diminishing diversity in higher education” (see ‘Affirming Academic Values in Internationalization of Higher Education: A Call for Action‘). This debate links into internal consortia discussions (that go back to Day 1, really) about the tensions between a member-only peer-to-peer approach vs the idea of more inclusive and diverse institutional membership structures, with more heterogeneous global geographies.
This is an interesting time for international consortia of universities. The consortia structure brings with it strengths and weaknesses. For example, it is large enough to enable the drawing in of complementary resources, people, skill sets, networks, etc. The scale of these consortia and the emphasis on peer-based membership structures also facilitates collaborative action on a number of levels. However, international consortia are also too large, in some ways, to facilitate rapid responses to opportunities. There is also a sense of equality in peer-based membership structures and this can preclude deeper partnerships between 2-3 members of a larger consortia. Add in the challenge of how to engender international research collaboration, as alluded to by Stephen Toope above, where you try to “foster the conditions in which it will happen naturally,” international teaching collaboration, and the collective provision of some forms of infrastructure, and you begin to see a rather complicated array of forces, dynamics, and actors to manage: all more reason for regular and open critical engagement about the purpose and value-added of international consortia and associations.
To facilitate further discussions about the mission/activities question, I have pasted in (see below) the missions of the international consortia, networks, and associations that I know of. I’ve listed this information in reverse chronological order, in part to see what the newest consortia, networks and associations have decided to focus upon. If you know of any others that I have missed, please email me <email@example.com> and I’ll add them here. Please keep it in mind, though, that some of these missions are evolving as I write, and the websites I link to are variable in quality and how up-to-date they are.
ps: my sincere thanks to a large number of people (too many to mention here) who provided very helpful leads and insights about this topic.
Mission Statements of International Associations, Consortia and Networks of Universities
Note: these are listed in reverse chronological order from date of formation. I’ve had to make a few editorial decisions about some text as there are varying understandings about what a ‘mission statement’ is. Link through to the organizations’ sites if you need information about associated objectives and activities. Please send any necessary updates or notifications about errors below to me at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
University Global Partnership Network (UGPN) Est. 2011 | 3 members & 2 partners
The mission of the UGPN is to develop sustainable world-class research, education and knowledge transfer through an active international network of selected Universities collaborating in research, learning and teaching to benefit global society.
Matariki Network of Universities (MNU) Est. 2010 | 7 members
The MNU has been established to enable the universities to enhance diversity, to share ideas and expertise, and to learn international best practice from each other, recognising the shared commitment to an ethos of excellence in research, scholarship and rounded education.
WC2 University Network Est. 2010 | 12 members
The WC2 University Network has been developed with the goal of bringing together top universities located in the heart of major world cities in order to address cultural, environmental and political issues of common interest to world cities and their universities.
By promoting closer interaction between universities, local government and business communities, WC2 will help to create a forum where universities can be more responsive to the needs of their stakeholders in the context of world cities.
Global Liberal Arts Alliance Est. 2009 | 25 Members
The Global Alliance is a multilateral partnership of equals intended to strengthen education in the liberal arts and sciences. Specifically, The Global Alliance’s strength derives from expertise and experience sharing, and its emphases on the challenges and opportunities facing institutions that educate graduates for citizenship and leadership in the highly-globalized twenty-first century.
Network of Networks (NNs) Est. 2008 | 26 members
The Network of Networks (NNs) is the idea of comprehensive network linking existing networks of universities and research institutions, which enables cooperation that will more effectively utilize the respective strengths of its members. By increasing opportunities for high-level joint research projects and student exchanges among members of existing networks, the NNs aims to provide a framework for the development of a new, integrated base of scientific knowledge leading to solutions to complex global challenges.
International Research Universities Network (IRUN) Est. 2007 | 10 members
The International Research Universities Network (IRUN) is an international network of broad-based research universities. The universities participating in the Network are well known for the international quality of their research and education, and are strongly motivated to improve that quality even further.
The aim of IRUN is to further improve the quality of research and teaching at the universities involved. Within the Network, the exchange of researchers, lecturers and students will be encouraged and facilitated.
International Forum of Public Universities (IFPU) Est. 2007 | 21 members
On October 11th, 2007, a new International Forum of Public Universities (IFPU) was created. Limited to some twenty-five establishments, the Forum brings together public universities covering a vast array of contemporary knowledge, establishments that are recognized within their country for the importance they afford to research and their close ties to the development of society. The founding universities members are from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and North America. The office of the general secretariat of the Forum is located at Université de Montréal.
The IFPU answers a need that is not being met by any existing university group. The Forum promotes the expression of values that underlie the mission of public universities in an era of internationalization. The Forum will assist in the creation of new models of cooperation in education, teaching and research. According to common themes reflecting the issues faced by public universities, the Forum will promote education and research actions between establishments by calling upon the professor-researchers of member establishments and their post-graduate students. Some twenty highly reputed public universities from four continents teaming up in the discovery and transmission of new knowledge is certainly timely responsible.
International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) Est. 2006 | 10 members
IARU members are leading research universities that share a global vision, similar values and a commitment to educating future world leaders. On 14 January 2006, IARU members signed a memorandum of understanding to engage in various activities including summer internships, research collaborations, benchmarking best practices, and identifying shared or common positions on key public issues. As the Alliance is small in nature, the members share a close-knit relationship.
Talloires Network Est. 2005 | 236 members
The Talloires Network is an international association of institutions committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education. We work together to implement the recommendations of the Talloires Declaration and build a global movement of engaged universities.
Note: in 2010 the Asia-Talloires Network of Industry and Community Engaged Universities (ATNEU) was established with the aim of bringing “together key regional stakeholders from universities, industries, NGOs, communities, and governments to catalyze sustainable partnerships that identify and address the social, economic and environmental challenges and ultimately improve the quality of life for communities in the region.”
Global U8 Consortium Est. 2003 | 7 members
Globalization of research and education activities requires that higher education itself becomes a global knowledge-based enterprise, seeking to build bridges across boundaries of diverse cultures and academic disciplines. Universities must ally with one another to create innovative research and educational advantages.
The Global U8 Consortium is an alliance of universities from around the world whose objective is a dynamic and distinctive collaboration, building innovative curricula and research programs. The GU8 Consortium focuses principally on four related academic disciplines: Marine Affairs, Global Logistics, Business Administration, and Advanced Technologies. All GU8 members strive to advance worldwide knowledge in these areas of common expertise. We pursue excellence, focus on sustainability and responsible leadership, and impart these values through our students, researchers and partners.
Academic Consortium 21 (AC21) Est. 2002 | 20 members
The vision of AC21 is the promoting of cooperation in education and research between members, the bridging between different societies in the world and the delivering of wisdom to all people to mutually understand and share values, knowledge and cultures necessary to improve quality of life and to foster co-existence beyond national and regional boundaries in the 21st century.
Alliance Program Est. 2002 | 4 members
Created in the fall 2002, the Alliance Program is a non-profit transatlantic joint-venture between Columbia University and three French prestigious institutions, The École Polytechnique, Sciences Po and the Université of Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne. Alliance is an innovative program whose aim is to initiate and accompany new initiatives in the fields of education cooperation, research collaboration, and policy outreach.
League of European Research Universities (LERU) Est. 2002 | 20 members
The League of European Research Universities (LERU) was founded in 2002 as an association of research-intensive universities sharing the values of high-quality teaching in an environment of internationally competitive research.
LERU is committed to:
- education through an awareness of the frontiers of human understanding;
- the creation of new knowledge through basic research, which is the ultimate source of innovation in society;
- the promotion of research across a broad front, which creates a unique capacity to reconfigure activities in response to new opportunities and problems.
The purpose of the League is to advocate these values, to influence policy in Europe and to develop best practice through mutual exchange of experience.
European University Association (EUA) Est. 2001 | 850 members
As a centre of expertise in higher education and research, EUA supports universities by:
- Promoting policies to enable universities and other higher education institutions to respond to growing expectations regarding their contribution to the future development of a knowledge society for Europe
- Advocating these policies to decision makers at different levels and ensuring that the voice of universities is heard
- Informing members of policy debates which will impact on their development
- Developing its knowledge and expertise through projects that involve and benefit individual institutions while also underpinning policy development
- Strengthening the governance, leadership and management of institutions through a range of activities targeted at mutual learning, exchange of experience and the transfer of best practices
- Developing partnerships in higher education and research between Europe and the rest of the word in order to strengthen the position of European universities in a global context.
Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Est. 2000 | 19 members
The Worldwide Universities Network comprises 19 research-intensive institutions spanning 6 continents. Our mission is to be one of the leading international Higher Education networks, collaborating to accelerate the creation of knowledge and to develop leaders who will be prepared to address the significant challenges, and opportunities, of our rapidly changing world.
Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) – International Consortium Est. 2000 | 6 members
The Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) – International Consortium is based at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California Berkeley and includes a selective group of top ranked international research universities who share the following objectives:
- Develop and administrator an on-line, census, and customized version of the SERU survey of first-degree students for international research universities, parallel to the SERU Surveys in the US.
- Conduct research on the student experience, sharing best practices via SERU meetings, symposiums, and joint-research projects intended to inform and drive institutional self-improvement in undergraduate education and broaden our understanding of the socioeconomic impact of these institutions.
- Collaborate with SERU-AAU Consortium members in the generation and sharing of institutional, comparative, and longitudinal data on the student experience, including SERU surveys of students, and based on agreed data sharing protocols.
Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi) Est. 1999 | 214 members
At the beginning of this century there was a strong need to establish new bases for a sustainable global society, taking into account environmental limits, re-examining the dynamics of global economic, political, human, social and cultural models, as well as their local manifestations. In fact we are currently experiencing a crisis of civilization, in which we must facilitate the transition towards a paradigm shift aimed at rebuilding society, with the collective desire and responsibility of attaining a better world for future generations.
This is significant enough to warrant a discussion on what the role of higher education and its social contract should be in this new era, to reinvent an innovative and socially committed response that anticipates and adds value to the process of social transformations. These changes are mostly related to the review of the educative purpose, the role of knowledge in society to address major global issues, local needs in a global context and the need to prepare people to be global actors of positive transformation of societies.
This requires reconsidering what the social contribution of higher education should be. GUNi encourages higher education institutions to redefine their role, embrace this process of transformation and strengthen their critical stance within society.
To face these challenges, the mission of GUNi is to strengthen higher education’s role in society and contributing to the renewal of the visions, missions and policies of higher education’s main issues across the world under a vision of public service, relevance and social responsibility.
IDEA League Est. 1999 | 5 members
The IDEA League, founded in 1999, is a network of five leading universities of technology and science. Our joint activities in education, research and quality assurance, as well as our joint participation in EU programmes and initiatives make us a model of European cooperation. Together, we create added value by pooling resources for collaborative and complementary programmes for our students, researchers and staff.
Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe (UNICA) Est. 1999 | 43 members
To achieve its aims UNICA articulates the views of member universities to European institutions and to national, regional and municipal governments. It provides members with information on European initiatives and programmes, and supports them in co-operative projects. It also provides a forum in which universities can reflect on the demands of strategic change in university research, education and administration.
Association of Arab & European Universities (AEUA) Est. 1998 | 67 members
The Association of Arab and European Universities (AEUA) was initiated in 1998 by the Lutfia Rabbani Foundation in The Netherlands. Its prime objective is to facilitate and to stimulate collaboration between universities in European and Arab countries at an institutional, departmental and faculty level. Ultimate goal is to develop human resources and promote understanding between cultures and exchanges between the civil societies involved.
Universitas 21 Est. 1997 | 23 members
The leading global network of research-intensive universities, working together to foster global citizenship and institutional innovation through research-inspired teaching and learning, student mobility, connecting our students and staff, and wider advocacy for internationalisation.
Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Est. 1997 | 42 members
APRU aims to promote scientific, educational and cultural collaboration among Pacific Rim economies. In both its objectives and guiding principles, APRU embodies a commitment to global academic and research standards.
APRU recognizes that its activities can be powerful catalysts for expanding educational, economic and technological cooperation among Pacific Rim economies. The association seeks to promote dialogue and collaboration between academic institutions in the Pacific Rim so that they can become effective players in today’s global knowledge economy.
Association of East Asian Research Universities (AEARU) Est. 1996 | 17 members
The Association of East Asian Research Universities (AEARU) is a regional organization founded in January 1996, with the goals of forming a forum for the presidents of leading research-oriented universities in East Asia and of carrying out mutual exchanges between the major universities in the region. Expectations are that this regional union, on the basis of common academic and cultural backgrounds among the member universities, will contribute not only to the development of higher education and research but also to the opening up of a new era leading to cultural, economic and social progress in the East Asian region.
ASEAN University Network (AUN) Est. 1995 | 26 members
The general objective of the AUN is to strengthen the existing network of cooperation among universities in ASEAN by promoting collaborative study and research programmes on the priority areas identified by ASEAN. The specific objective is to promote cooperation and solidarity among scientists and scholars in ASEAN Member Countries; to develop academic and human resources in the region; and to produce and transmit scientific and scholarly knowledge and information to achieve ASEAN goals.
Consortium for North American Higher Education (CONAHEC) Est. 1994 | 162 members
The Consortium for North American Higher Education (CONAHEC)’s primary mission is to foster academic collaboration among institutions, organizations and agencies of higher education in Canada, Mexico and the United States. CONAHEC also promotes linkages between North America and higher education entities around the world.
Compostela Group of Universities (CGU) Est. 1993 | 70 members
The Compostela Group of Universities (CGU) is a large, prominent, open and inclusive network of universities whose overarching goal is to facilitate and promote cooperation in the higher education sector. It achieves this by acting as a platform to foster and support projects among its members as well as by participating in activities as an entity in its own right.
Asociación de Universidades de América Latina y el Caribe para la Integración (AUALCPI) Est. 1993 | 70 members
AUALCPI primary purpose is to promote cooperation between universities in the region with the aim of promoting the integration of the Commonwealth of Latin America and the Caribbean through collaborative activities and construction of a permanent space for discussion on integration and its relationship to education.
Santander Group (SG) Est. 1992 | 34 members
The Santander Group is a European Universities Network comprising almost 40 members from 16 European countries cooperating closely to strengthen their individual potential as they strive for excellence in university governance, teaching and research approaches.
The Santander Group is based on mutual trust, understanding, and respect for cultural diversity, which makes the network an open forum for exchange of experience and best practices in the strategic areas for the higher education system in Europe such as quality assurance and academic mobility. Thus, the Network plays an essential role in realisation of the Bologna Process objectives.
The association also encourages contacts between universities and their surrounding communities on matters related to social and technological improvements, which makes it a reliable and strong partner for regional development.
Asociación de Universidades “Grupo Montevideo” (AUGM) Est. 1991 | 27 Members
The Asociación de Universidades “Grupo Montevideo” (AUGM) is a network of public universities, autonomous and self-governing, of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. It is a civil non-governmental non-profit organization whose main purpose to promote the integration process via scientific, technological, educational and cultural cooperation between all its members.
European Association for University Lifelong Learning (EUCEN) Est. 1991 | 222 members
To contribute to the economic and cultural life of Europe through the promotion and advancement of lifelong learning within higher education institutions in Europe and elsewhere;
To foster universities’ influence in the development of lifelong learning knowledge and policies throughout Europe.
Consortium Linking Universities of Science and Technology for Education and Research (CLUSTER) Est. 1990 | 12 members
The VISION for CLUSTER is to become:
- The leading university network in technology for Research, Education and Innovation in Europe
- A central player in the development of Knowledge & Innovation Communities in Europe.
- The prime partner for Industry cooperation at the European level
Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) Est. 1989 | 779 members
The Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) is one of the most important higher education and research associations in the world. The AUF has also been La Francophonie’s operating agency for higher education and research since 1989. This Francophone project aims to establish a French-language international academic community that produces and transmits knowledge.
Columbus Association (CA) Est. 1987 | 47 members
Columbus is a non-profit organization, founded by the European University Association (EUA) and the Association of Latin American Universities (AULA). Since 1987, Columbus has promoted cooperation between universities in Europe and Latin America. Its consolidated network of higher education institutions and university administrations allows directors to identify and implement institutional strategies to respond to new challenges.
Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU) Est. 1986 | 400+ members
To Champion Hispanic Success in Higher Education
HACU fulfills its mission by:
- promoting the development of member colleges and universities;
- improving access to and the quality of post-secondary educational opportunities for Hispanic students; and
- meeting the needs of business, industry and government through the development and sharing of resources, information and expertise.
Coimbra Group Est. 1985 | 40 members
Founded in 1985 and formally constituted by Charter in 1987, the Coimbra Group is an association of long-established European comprehensive, multidisciplinary universities of high international standard committed to creating special academic and cultural ties in order to promote, for the benefit of its members, internationalization, academic collaboration, excellence in learning and research, and service to society. It is also the purpose of the Group to influence European education and research policy and to develop best practice through the mutual exchange of experience.
Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (IOHE) Est. 1980 | 300+ members
Founded in 1980, the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (IOHE) was created to respond to the needs of developing international relations, improving the quality of information, and promoting academic collaboration among Higher Education Institutes (HEI) in the Americas. The IOHE is the only university organization that spans the entire continent of the Americas.
The IOHE is a not-for-profit organization whose objectives are primarily educational. This is achieved by: establishing collaboration among universities of the Americas; promoting understanding and mutual support; contributing to the sustainable development of the peoples of the Americas and respecting the free discussion of ideas.
Association of Arab Universities (AAU) Est. 1969 | 270 members
Assisting and coordinating the efforts of Arab Universities to prepare capable persons who can serve their Arab communities and preserve its unified culture and civilization, as well as to assist in developing its natural resources.
Association of African Universities (AAU) Est. 1967 | 270 members
The Association of African Universities is an international non governmental organization set up by universities in Africa to promote cooperation among themselves and between them and the international Academic community.
International Association of Universities (IAU) Est. 1950 | 604 members & 27 member organizations
IAU: Building a Worldwide Higher Education Community.
IAU, founded in 1950, is the UNESCO-based worldwide association of higher education institutions. It brings together institutions and organisations from some 120 countries for reflection and action on common concerns and collaborates with various international, regional and national bodies active in higher education. Its services are available on the priority basis to Members but also to organisations, institutions and authorities concerned with higher education, as well as to individual policy and decision-makers, specialists, administrators, teachers, researchers and students.
The Association aims at giving expression to the obligation of universities and other higher education institutions as social institutions to promote, through teaching, research and services, the principles of freedom and justice, of human dignity and solidarity, and contributes, through international cooperation, to the development of material and moral assistance for the strengthening of higher education generally.
As stated in its Founding Charter IAU’s mission is based on the fundamental principles for which every university should stand:
- The right to pursue knowledge for its own sake and to follow wherever the search for truth may lead;
- The tolerance of divergent opinion and freedom from political interference.
Union de Universidades de America Latina y el Caribe Est. 1949 | 177 members
Promoting regional integration, defending the autonomy of universities, boosting the quality and social relevance of higher education.
Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) Est. 1913 | 500+ members
Working with our members to promote and contribute to the provision of excellent higher education for the benefit of all people throughout the Commonwealth.
Thanks for this excellent and very useful synopsis of so many important higher ed groups (although I should tell you that despite the name, Universitas 21 actually has 23 members listed on their site)! I always look forward to new GHE posts in my inbox.
Thanks Kris! This analysis is great! Creating partnerships with international consortia of universities will have far reaching effects. Collaboration for research is part of it, but it will also provides students opportunities to study abroad.
There is a mind-boggling number of entities set up to rank higher education institutions based on various methodologies using select data provided by the institutions themselves and selectively formed into rankings based on the bias of the ranking organization. I find the Universitas 21 ranking system to be a refreshing change from the norm. As Kris pointed out, it is one of a very few ranking systems that is based on an international consortia. They also use public data to form their rankings, rather than data provided from the universities. I also can appreciate the clearly defined criteria that the rankings are based on as stated on the Universitas 21 website. It makes me hopeful that there is a change in the trend of university rankings to a more unified and global approach. Thanks for a great article.