University of Waterloo’s Membership with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)

Friday, April 8, 2022

University of Waterloo’s Membership with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)

Anna McWebb, Waterloo International

April 8th, 2022

The University of Waterloo is a proud member of many organizations that provide opportunities for members of the Waterloo community to get involved with international higher education. One of these organizations of which the university is a member is the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). The ACU has over 500 member universities in 50 countries across the Commonwealth, with the University of Waterloo being one of its 16 Canadian members.

The ACU aims to build a better world through higher education and proposes that bringing universities together from around the world will help to advance knowledge, promote understanding, broaden minds, and improve lives. Moreover, the organization is committed to mapping a road to 2030, where international collaboration and higher education are key components in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

A recent example of the ACU’s work is their engagement with the British Council to produce a report focused on the global impact of internationalizing higher education. Among their findings were the following key observations:

  • International higher education partnerships have greater potential to advance complex societal issues as compared to organizations acting individually
  • International partnerships contribute to innovation
  • Research agendas are becoming increasingly aligned with the SDGs

The ACU maintains that higher education is the key to healthier, greener, fairer societies, and that none of the 17 SDGs would be achievable without the contribution of higher education to research, teaching, and community engagement. A crucial component to the success of the endeavour to strengthen higher education globally is international collaboration. 

The ACU’s strategic plan outlines that its impact will take three main forms: capacity-building (supporting faculty, administrators, and students in Global South universities), connections (making connections across universities), and prominence (showing the contributions of higher education to society and thereby the SDGs). Waterloo’s membership of the ACU helps the ACU advance these priorities, as well as contributing to Waterloo’s own goals. With respect to the latter, Waterloo’s ACU membership helps the university foster a connected and supportive global community and promote the importance of higher education in the advancement of SDGs. Further, its membership supports the university’s international strategic direction by enabling impactful international collaborations.

With Waterloo’s membership of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, you – as a Waterloo faculty member, staff member, or student – can internationalize your learning, research, and service activities in the following ways:

More information about the Association of Commonwealth Universities can be found at its website. The ACU regularly updates its website with open opportunities, and their news page displays current and upcoming projects, which partners may be involved in. Finally, if Waterloo members have any questions or comments about our membership, they can contact Jessica Denenberg, Associate Director, International Relations at Waterloo International at