UCD has been chosen to host the next General Conference of the International Association of Universities (IAU) in 2020. The news was revealed by UCD President Andrew Deeks, who travelled to Ghana this month to attend the annual IAU Conference and present UCD’s bid to host the event.

Founded in 1950, the IAU has members in over 120 countries, and works to promote collaboration and action between its members around higher education issues. UCD is one of 616 full-time members of the organisation. Other Irish members include NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, and the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). Based on the criteria for membership, UCD pays an annual €2,850 membership fee to the organisation.

Deeks broke the news in his Presidential Bulletin to staff, sent just after UCD’s bid was successful in Ghana. He wrote that ‘the board meeting has just concluded, and I am pleased to say that we have been successful in our bid to host the next General Conference of the IAU at UCD in 2020. The 2020 General Conference will coincide with the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the IAU, and so will be a very special event.’

Deeks further stated that the ‘current institutional membership is approximately 650, so hosting the General Conference will be a significant boost to our profile, and to our ambition to be recognised around the world as Ireland’s Global University. Thanks to everyone who assisted in putting the bid together.’

The IAU’s annual conference for 2017 was held in Accra, Ghana, where the theme was ‘Leadership for a Changing Public-Private Funding Higher Education Landscape.’ Deeks attended the three-day event, having been elected to the Board of the IAU last year. He chaired and moderated a discussion on the ‘Impact on Governance Models of New Higher Education Funding Realities.’

Leading participants in the discussion were Anthony Kahindi Mutune, the Secretary of Strathmore University, Kenya, Pornchai Mongkhonvanit, the President of Siam University, Thailand, and IAU Vice-president, and Godehard Ruppert, the President of the University of Bamberg, Germany, and also an IAU Board member. Other panel discussions included ‘Roles and Expectations for and of Higher Education Leaders Today’, ‘Tensions between Academic, Economic and Social Missions of Higher Education’, and ‘Academic Integrity in a Competitive Higher Education Landscape.’

The IAU is governed by a President, who chairs its Administrative Board. It contains twenty elected and two ex officio members. Pam Fredman, Vice-Chancellor of Göteborg University, Sweden, is the current IAU President. Deeks was elected to serve on the Board of the 2016-2020 administration. He is one of the six members elected in the European category. The other European representatives are from universities in Portugal, Romania, Spain, Germany, and Lithuania. Remus Pricopie, the Rector of the National University of Political and Administrative Studies, Romania, is one of several IAU Vice-Presidents. In total, ten people ran for the six European spots last year.

The General Conference is the most important meeting of the IAU. Held once every four years, all IAU members come together to elect a new President and Administrative Board Members. The last General Conference was held in Bangkok, Thailand, in November 2016. The 17th Annual IAU General Conference will see hundreds of university leaders travel to UCD for the event. The next step for UCD will be to arrange a Conference Programme Committee to begin planning the logistics. No date for the conference has yet been confirmed, but it is expected to be held around November 2020.

Cian Carton – Editor