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.

Our Strategic Priorities

  1. Favourable Policy Environment:
  2. The AAU will lead dialogue and policy debates around key issues in African higher education and promote the role of universities in sustainable development

  3. Strengthening Institutional Capacity of Stakeholders:
  4. The AAU will strengthen the institutional capacity of key stakeholders

  5. Promoting Harmonization, Standardization for Competitiveness and Collaboration:
  6. The AAU will promote harmonization and standardization in order to enhance competitiveness and inter-institutional collaboration and networking

  7. Resource Mobilization for Sustainability:
  8. The AAU will explore other mechanisms for sustainable financing

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.

The Pioneering Members of the AAU
Membership of the AAU is open to universities and other institutions of higher education in Africa, as well as organisations and networks whose members are universities or institutions which engage in supporting universities. At the time of its inauguration, there were forty-six (46) institutions of higher learning in Africa that qualified for membership, 34 were present at the inauguration and membership rose to 38 in 1968. All the 46 institutions had become members of the AAU five years after its formation.
The 34 pioneer institutions at its inauguration were:
  1. University of Algiers, Algeria
  2. Université Officielle de Bujumbura (Université du Burundi), Burundi
  3. Université Fédéral du Cameroun (Université de Yaoundé), Cameroon
  4. Université Nationale du Zaire (made up of Official University of Lubumbashi and Free University of Kisangani), Congo DR
  5. University of Lovanium, Kinshasa, Congo DR
  6. Ain Shams University, Egypt
  7. Al-Azhar University, Egypt
  8. Alexandria University, Egypt
  9. University of Cairo, Egypt
  10. University College of Addis Ababa (Haile Selassie I University/Addis Ababa University), Ethiopia
  11. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
  12. University of Cape Coast, Ghana
  13. University of Ghana, Ghana
  14. University of Abidjan, Ivory Coast
  15. University of College, Nairobi, Kenya
  16. Cuttington College (Cuttington University), Liberia
  17. University of Liberia, Liberia
  18. University of Libya (later divided to University of Benghazi and University of Tripoli), Libya
  19. Universite de Madagascar (University of Antananarivo), Madagascar
  20. Mohammed V University (University of Rabat), Morocco
  21. The University of al-Qarawiyyin, Morocco
  22. Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria
  23. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  24. University of Ife (Obafemi Awolowo University), Nigeria
  25. University of Lagos, Nigeria
  26. University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria
  27. Universite Nationale du Rwanda, Rwanda
  28. Universite de Dakar (Université Cheikh Anta Diop), Sénégal
  29. Fourah Bay College (University of Sierra Leone), Sierra Leone
  30. Njala University, Sierra Leone
  31. University of Khartoum, Sudan
  32. University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  33. Universite de Tunis, Tunisia
  34. Makerere University, Uganda

How AAU is funded

AAU is funded through:
  • Membership subscription fees;
  • Income from services provided and sales of publications;
  • Subventions from the African Union and African governments;
  • Grants from development partner agencies;
  • Capital investment fund and possibly an endowment fund (under consideration).

Our Objectives

  • Promote interchange, contact and cooperation among universities and other institutions of higher education in Africa;
  • Collect, classify and disseminate information on higher education and research, particularly in Africa;
  • 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;
  • Encourage and empower members of the Association to address developmental challenges and become an effective voice in national, regional and global higher education discourse;
  • 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;
  • Contribute to the improvement of leadership, institutional management and the policy environment of African higher education; and
  • Organise, encourage and support public fora for information dissemination and exchange and policy dialogue on issues of higher education.