Global Meeting of Associations

Doha, Qatar


About the GMA:

Global Meetings of Associations (GMA) are held every two years. They are organized exclusively for leaders of national, regional and international associations/organizations of higher education institutions. They offer a unique opportunity for these leaders to meet as a relatively small group of peers to exchange ideas, practices and to network.

Host & Partner:

The 2023 GMA was hosted by and organised in partnership with Qatar University.


The GMA was exclusively open to senior representatives from national, regional and international IAU Member associations, organisations and networks. IAU Affiliate Members were also welcome at the GMA.


The GMA began with a panel composed of representatives from regional and national associations from different regions of the world to frame the theme of intercultural learning and how this is implemented in associations’ work. The participants then had the opportunity to debate and exchange views. At the end of the day, the key outcomes of the discussions were presented in plenary in order to conclude the meeting and outlines the way forward until the next GMA in 2025.


IAU GMA 2019

GMA Programme (25 November 2023): 

The GMA took place from 9:00 AM to 17:00 PM. 


9:30 AM – 11:00 AM

  • The role of languages in intercultural learning and dialogue

Language is one of the defining features of a culture. Although the relationship between language and culture is not biunivocal (different cultures can speak the same language and people of the culture can speak different languages), it is undeniable that language can act both as a cohesive factor and as a barrier to mutual understanding between cultures. The panel explored the role of languages in intercultural learning and dialogue with examples from three different associations from three different regions of the world: India, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Euro-Mediterranean. 


  1. Pankaj Mittal, Secretary General, Association of Indian Universities
  2. Roberto Escalante Semerena, Secretary-General, Association of Universities of Latin America and the Caribbean (UDUAL) 
  3. Anne-Laurence Pastorini, Programme Officer, UNIMED - Mediterranean Universities Union


11:30 PM – 13:00 PM

  • Interaction of diverse cultural groups at local institutional level 

In the contemporary world, it is often not necessary to travel far to encounter different cultures, many countries in the world are multicultural. The same is true for higher education institutions (HEIs). Many HEIs are intercultural realities, which is only reinforced by internationalization and international mobility. The panal  discussed how university associations can work with Members to foster integration and dialogue among diverse cultural groups within the institution and in realtion to society. They also discussed how connecting culturally diverse knowledge systems can improve the quality of T&L and Research. They presented perspectives from different regions of the world: The Americas, Japan, and The Arctic. 


  1. David Julien, Executive Director, Inter-american Organization for Higher Education (OUI-IOHE) 

  2. Kyosuke Nagata, President, The Japan Association of National Universities (JANU)

  3. Liisa Holmberg, Vice-Chair of the Assembly and Chair of the Nominations Committee, University of the Arctic (UArctic)


15:00 PM - 16:30 PM

  • The effect of the digital transformation on intercultural learning and dialogue

Digital transformation has the potential to completly transform the way in which people interact and communicate, opening up the access to information and communication beyond borders. At the same, these developments can also pose a threat to cultural diversity, as all cultures are not necessarily well represented, which often means that human biases are amplified in the digital space. There is a dual risk of cultural homogenization or; on the contrary, to cultural segregation. The panel discussed the positive and negative consequences of the digital transformation on intercultural learning and dialogue with contributions from the European region and the Arabic world. 


  1. Michael Gaebel, Director, Higher Education Policy, European University Association (EUA)

  2. Cristina Sarmento, Secretary General and João Calvão da Silva, President, Associação das Universidades da Língua Portuguesa (AULP) 

  3. Amr Salama, Secretary General, Association of Arab Universities (AARU)






IAU provides a special forum for its organizational Members: the Global Meeting of Associations (GMA). It is a meeting exclusively for leaders of national, regional and international higher education associations and organizations. The GMA offers a unique opportunity to meet and network, as well as  exchange ideas and best practices among peers for mutual learning. These in-depth interactions boost international cooperation and help develop important joint initiativesfor the higher education sector and society at large.
The GMA is an in-person event and convenes  every two years in conjunction with the IAU International Conferences, rotating from one region of the world to the next  In addition, the GMA convenes online on a regular basis throughout the year.




The Role of associations in enhancing quality of higher education at home and abroad



Associations, Networks, Alliances etc.: Making Sense of the Emerging Global Higher Education Landscape



Internationalization of Higher Education: New Players, New Approaches





Institutional Diversity in Higher Education: Advantage or Threat for Associations?




Social innovation: challenges and prospects for higher education





Leadership for a changing public-private higher education funding landscape


Sponsors & Partners