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The Global University Associations Forum (GUAF) is a platform for dialogue, cooperation and joint action. Established in 2021, it brings together leaders of university associations representing major world regions – Africa, the Americas, the Arab Region, Asia, and Europe.

Member associations

  • Association of African Universities (AAU)
  • Association of Arab Universities (AArU)
  • China Association of Higher Education (CAHE)
  • European University Association (EUA)
  • Association of Indian Universities (AIU)
  • Latin American and The Caribbean Space for Higher Education (ENLACES)
  • American Council on Education (ACE) and Universities Canada (UC)
  • ASEAN University Network (AUN)

Mission and purpose

The Forum was established as a platform to foster systematic exchange between its members, in order to mobilise the collective capacity of universities to tackle global challenges. Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic further highlighted the pivotal role of research, knowledge and education in responding to common challenges. Beyond global health concerns, nascent crises in the political sphere, combined with major environmental, technological and demographic shifts, have prompted questions on the role of universities in shaping our future society.

Disruption to in-person exchange brought about by the pandemic further highlighted the need for global partners to connect and collaborate in a more sustainable and systematic fashion. As a space for open dialogue, the Forum seeks to strengthen existing links between its members, building upon long-standing exchange and cooperation initiatives in areas where the collective resources and influence of members can add value. Through joint action, the Forum aims to build political awareness of the university sector’s current and potential contributions and how these can drive positive change.

GUAF’s 2022/23 working priorities are:

  • International mobility and recognition;
  • Sustainability as a theme of and mode for international partnerships; and
  • Limitations on international collaboration, particularly in relation to institutional autonomy and academic freedom.

Ways of working

GUAF was established with two distinct purposes: to serve as a platform for knowledge exchange among its member associations; and as a vehicle for action where the collective knowledge, capacity and outreach of its members can advance priority issues.

Forum members are typically represented by their president and/or secretary general. Regular meetings, in the form of an annual in-person meeting complemented by online meetings throughout the year, provide space for peer exchange and mutual learning among university association leaders and facilitate dialogue on pathways to jointly address common challenges.

The chair of the Forum rotates annually. Provision of secretarial support and responsibility for organisation of the annual in-person meeting is shared among members. As inaugural chair, EUA convened the first in-person meeting of Forum members on 17 May 2022, in Barcelona, to coincide with the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference.

The next in-person meeting will take place in Bangkok in September 2023. The meeting will be hosted by ASEAN University Network (AUN), the Forum chair for 2023, and will precede the fifth AUN Quality Assurance International Conference.

The Forum welcomes collaboration with other actors operating within or beyond the global higher education and research sphere. Organisations interested in engaging with the Forum are invited to contact Michael Gaebel, Director of Higher Education Policy, EUA.

Documents and resources

On 23 April 2024, members of the GUAF released a joint statement, on the topic of the UNESCO Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education, or Global Recognition Convention in short. In this statement, GUAF members highlight the Convention’s potential to establish universal principles for fair and transparent recognition of qualifications in higher education on a global scale, and point to key actions that need to be taken in order to ensure the right framework conditions for the Convention’s vision to be realised.

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