About us

Established in 1913, the Association of Commonwealth Universities is the world’s first international university network, and remains the only accredited organisation representing higher education across the Commonwealth.

Founded to lead ‘common action in matters of common interest’, the ACU is governed by its member institutions through an elected Council. A UK-registered charity, it received a royal charter in 1963 and, in 1986, Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, became its Patron. In 2019, Her Majesty passed on the patronage to HRH The Duchess of Sussex.

Today, the ACU champions higher education as a force for good in the Commonwealth. Among its key principles is the value of higher education to society – or its role ‘as a common good’ – and the conviction that this value is enhanced by international collaboration.

The Commonwealth – with its shared language, structures, and academic traditions – offers a powerful advantage, paving the way to an ease of working together and creating valuable opportunities for collaborative research and student/staff mobility.

Our role is to:

  • champion the work of Commonwealth universities, particularly the central role they play in achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals;
  • connect and convene our member institutions to share best practice, pool resources, and develop long-term partnerships;
  • bridge the gap between the higher education sector and Commonwealth governments;
  • seed change, building the capacity of universities to serve current and future generations.

ACU Charter

Our mission

To promote and support excellence in higher education for the benefit of individuals and societies throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.

Our vision

Vibrant and exciting universities that use their transformational power to:

  • Create opportunities for individuals to fulfil their potential
  • Increase understanding through international partnerships – both inside and outside the higher education sector
  • Contribute to the cultural, economic, and social development of every nation

Our values

The ACU's set of values help guide the organisation in its mission. Our values reflect our aspirations, who we are, and how we do things, and are brought alive in everything that we do.

We strive for excellence, using our collective expertise and professionalism to fulfil our commitments. We listen to our stakeholders to deliver valued services.

We promote the sharing of good practice and capacity strengthening, and provide a platform for knowledge generation and exchange. We foster cooperation and partnerships within the sector and across cultures.

We enable the exploration of ideas and willingness to think differently. We give staff the freedom to do their work and develop new ways to deliver our services.

We are committed to openness, fairness, integrity, and transparency in all our work and relationships. We share the values and aspirations that unite all the people and nations of the Commonwealth.

We are an inclusive organisation, working with and representing a diverse range of individuals, nations, and institutions. Inclusive thinking is part of our everyday working practices.


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