Founding Members

In 1912, on the initiative of the University of London, representatives of 53 universities convened in London, UK, to hold a Congress of Universities of the Empire. There they decided that a bureau of information for the universities of the Empire should be established, and that its affairs should be managed by a committee representing both UK and overseas universities. The office of the Universities Bureau of the British Empire was opened in 1913 and, since 1963, the organisation has been known as the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

In 2013, to mark our Centenary year, we asked some our Founding Members why, after 100 years, they continue to value being a member of the ACU.

Read what some of our founding members had to say in full:

Dalhousie University (Canada) | Queen's University Belfast (UK) | University of Adelaide (Australia) | University of Bristol (UK) | University of Edinburgh (UK) | University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong) | University of South Africa (South Africa) | Western University (Canada)

“Bristol has most definitely benefited from being a member of the ACU. Collaboration and the sharing of ideas is a cornerstone of higher education. It is through this sharing that higher education can genuinely be a positive transformational force”

University of Bristol, United Kingdom


“Participation in ACU conferences has helped Dalhousie University make valuable connections in India, Australia, the United Kingdom and Africa”

Dalhousie University, Canada


“As a founding member, Unisa strongly identifies with the ACU’s mission to contribute to the provision of excellent higher education for the benefit of all people throughout the Commonwealth”

University of South Africa


“In recent years, we have continued to benefit from ACU programmes like CUDOS and Observatory on Borderless Higher Education. The ACU Professional Networks have also provided useful material to our colleagues in different areas. We also receive other publications from ACU which we circulate within the University”

University of Hong Kong


Our Centenary theme was ‘Future forward: design, develop, deliver’ – a theme through which the ACU and its membership focused the spotlight on the future of international higher education. With this in mind, we also asked our Founding Members for their take on the major challenges facing higher education institutions globally:


“The sustainability of higher education remains a key challenge, with institutions required to plan and budget carefully, ensuring an effective balance between investment in key infrastructure such as emerging technologies and buildings, and the allocation of resource to maintain high quality operations. The challenge of funding mass higher education from public and private sources is a global issue”

Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom


“Institutions are seeing a lasting effect from the Global Financial Crisis impacting both enrolment numbers and philanthropy and students have growing demands of their educational experience. These expectations relate to educational quality, career-readiness and access to learning and service tools via digital technologies and platforms”

University of Adelaide, Australia


“To provide accessible, affordable and aspirational teaching and research opportunities, which equip students and staff for global citizenship”

University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom


“The challenge for higher education institutions is securing the resources and infrastructure necessary to attract, support and retain the best talent in areas of institutional strength—areas of teaching and research that have the greatest capacity or potential to make an impact on a global scale”

Western University, Canada


Future Foward

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