Our History

The decision to create the AAU was taken at a meeting of Heads of African Institutions of Higher Education held for this purpose at the University of Khartoum, Sudan in September 1963. The International Association of Universities assisted in planning and making administrative arrangements for this meeting and was invited to cooperate with the Interim Committee that was set up to draft a constitution for the AAU.

A founding conference attended by the Heads or Senior representatives of 34 African Universities was held at Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco on 12th November 1967. At this meeting the constitution was adopted and the first officers and members of the AAU Executive Board were elected.

The second General Conference of the AAU was held at Lovanium University in Kinshasa in November 1969 and new officers and a new Executive Board were elected to take office in 1970. The Government of Ghana subsequently won the bid to host the AAU – and the AAU Secretariat has been hosted in Ghana since 1970. With an initial membership of 34, the Association now has over 360 members, cutting across the language and other divides.

The Association has provided a platform for research, reflection, consultation, debates, co-operation and collaboration on issues pertaining to higher education. It has provided a range of services to its members and served African higher education in a variety of ways. It has established and increased its role in the five sub-regions of Africa and is thus able, at reasonable notice, to assemble teams of experts in relevant fields from the sub-regions.

The Association possesses a unique capacity to convene higher education institutional leaders and policy-makers from all parts of the continent and on key issues related to African higher education and development, as demonstrated in the WTO/GATS workshop held in Ghana in April 2004. In addition, the Association provides leadership in the identification of emerging issues and support for debating them and facilitating appropriate follow-up action by its members, partners and other stakeholders.


To be the leading advocate for higher education in Africa, with the capacity to provide support for its member institutions in meeting national, continental and global needs.


To enhance the quality and relevance of higher education in Africa and strengthen its contribution to Africa’s development.


How AAU is funded

AAU is funded through:

  1. Membership subscription fees;
  2. Income from services provided and sales of publications;
  3. Subventions from the African Union and African governments;
  4. Grants from development partner agencies;
  5. Capital investment fund and possibly an endowment fund (under consideration).


Our Strategic Goals

  1. Promote and facilitate networking, collaboration and experience sharing in teaching, learning and research;
  2. Improve leadership, institutional management and the policy environment of African higher education;
  3. Empower AAU members to address developmental challenges and become an effective voice in national, continental and global bodies
  4. Facilitate mutually beneficial interaction between member institutions and the external academic and other communities;
  5. Provide effective representation of the African higher education community in regional and international affairs;
  6. Improve the governance and organizational framework of the Association;
  7. Raise efficiency and effectiveness of the Secretariat;
  8. Provide the Secretariat with a secure and adequate resource base for the pursuit of the Association’s goals

Our Strategy

The AAU’S first Strategic Plan, covering the period 2003-2010, was developed and approved at the COREVIP meeting held in Mauritius in 2003. The formulation of the second AAU 2011-2015 Strategic Plan followed a bottom-up and participatory process that provided an opportunity to assess the impact and consolidate the achievements of the first Strategic Plan. A review of 2003-2010 plan led to the identification of unfinished business and goals that guided the formulation of the 2011-2015 Strategic Plan. AAU’s third strategic plan for 2016-2020 has been approved by the AAU Governing Board.

Our Objectives

  1. Promote interchange, contact and cooperation among universities and other institutions of higher education in Africa;
  2. Collect, classify and disseminate information on higher education and research, particularly in Africa;
  3. Promote cooperation among African higher education institutions in curriculum development, post graduate training, research, quality assurance, recognition of qualifications, the determination of equivalence of degrees, and other matters of special policy or practical interest to African higher education;
  4. Encourage and empower members of the Association to address developmental challenges and become an effective voice in national, regional and global higher education discourse;
  5. Study and make known the educational and related needs of African universities and other institutions of higher education and, as far as practicable, co-ordinate the means whereby those needs may be met;
  6. Contribute to the improvement of leadership, institutional management and the policy environment of African higher education; and
  7. Organise, encourage and support public fora for information dissemination and exchange and policy dialogue on issues of higher education.


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