- assisting members to develop the capacity of their human resources
- promoting, through several programmes, the movement of academic and
- administrative staff and of students from one country of the Commonwealth to another
- providing information about universities and about issues of relevance to them
- hosting a higher education management consultancy service
- organising meetings of various kinds
The ACU is the oldest international association of universities in the world.
In 1912, on the initiative of the University of London, representatives of 53 universities assembled in London to hold a Congress of Universities of the Empire. One of their main decisions was 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 home and overseas universities. The office of the Universities Bureau of the British Empire was accordingly opened in London in 1913. In 1919, the Bureau was incorporated under licence of the Board of Trade and a grant of £5000 made by the British government for office premises on condition that the universities of the Empire undertook to provide adequate funds for maintenance. In 1948 the name of the Bureau was changed to the Association of Universities of the British Commonwealth (AUBC); and in 1963 (its jubilee year) the Association received a royal charter under the new name of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
The first post-war secretary general of the Association (1947--70) was Dr. John F. Foster, an Australian, after whom the present ACU office building is named. He was succeeded (1970--80) by Sir Hugh W. Springer, a Barbadian, and (1980--96) by Dr. A. Christodoulou, who came to Britain from Cyprus. Dr. Christodoulou was succeeded, on 1 June 1996, by Professor Michael Gibbons, a Canadian.
An informal history of the Association from 1913 to 1963 is given by Lord Ashby in Community of Universities, first issued in 1963 by the Cambridge University Press and republished by the ACU in 1988. The Commonwealth of Universities by Sir Hugh Springer in collaboration with Dr. Alastair Niven, the story of the Association of Commonwealth Universities 1963--1988, was also published in 1988 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Association.
In 1986 Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, agreed to become Patron of the ACU.
Association of Commonwealth Universities
36 Gordon Square
London WC1H 0PF
Tel: +44 (0)20 7380 6700
Fax: +44 (0)20 7387 2655
Secretary General: Dr John Rowett
Deputy Secretary General (External): Dorothy Garland
Deputy Secretary General (Development): Dr John Kirkland
Director of Finance, Administration and Personnel: Martyn Moore
Director of Information Systems: Mike Brodbelt