The ACU is honoured that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex has chosen to become our Patron. She takes over this role from Her Majesty The Queen, who became the first Patron of the ACU in 1986.
The ACU is dedicated to building a better world through higher education, by championing the role of universities in addressing global challenges and improving people's lives. One of our key principles is the value of higher education to society – its role 'as a common good' – and the conviction that this value is enhanced by international collaboration.
Through a unique network of 500 universities in over 50 countries, the ACU expands educational opportunities, enables vital research, and supports the long-term vitality of higher education. We manage international scholarship schemes (including the UK government's three major scholarship programmes and The Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships), convene universities to address key policy challenges such as gender and equity, climate resilience, and peace and reconciliation, and promote the role of universities in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Dr Joanna Newman MBE, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the ACU, said 'We are absolutely delighted that HRH The Duchess of Sussex has chosen to become Patron of the ACU. The Duchess shares our passion for the transformational power of higher education, and Her Royal Highness' support will help champion higher education as a force for good in the Commonwealth and beyond.
'We would like to thank Her Majesty The Queen for her support, and we look forward to working closely with The Duchess as our Patron.'
Her Royal Highness will also take on Patronage of the National Theatre, Smart Works and Mayhew. Along with the ACU, these organisations reflect the causes and issues she has spent decades championing including female empowerment, the arts, animal welfare and access to education. Read more here
Established in 1913, the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is the world's first and oldest international university network, with more than 500 member institutions in over 50 countries. It is the only accredited organisation representing higher education across the Commonwealth. The ACU champions higher education as a force for good in the Commonwealth and beyond.
The ACU's activities include:
- Offering Gender Grants to support university students and academics to promote gender equity and equality through innovative workshops
- Offering grants and fellowships to support researchers
- Organising annual Summer Schools to bring together students from different regions to explore multidisciplinary issues of global importance
- Coordinating policy networks focused on key issues for higher education – including climate resilience and peace and reconciliation – to boost collaboration between universities
- Managing the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships, on behalf of Commonwealth governments
- Managing the Chevening, Commonwealth, and Marshall Scholarship programmes funded by the UK government
HRH The Duchess of Sussex announced two new ACU Gender Grants in her first official speech at the University of the South Pacific in October 2018. The grants support initiatives at the University of the South Pacific and Fiji National University to empower female staff and encourage women into leadership positions.
HRH The Duchess of Sussex attended an ACU event in December 2018 to explore how higher education can help build a better world, alongside university leaders, academics, and international scholarship students. Hosted by King's College London, the event was an opportunity to discuss the role of universities in addressing human trafficking and modern slavery, gender equality and inclusion, peace and reconciliation, and climate change and resilience.